Afghanistan has a long history of bloodshed and unrest which can be traced back to the period of Alexander the Great who failed to rule the area and since then, the indigenous people have been struggling for peace and harmony in their land that is quite an eye-catching destination for invaders.
During the Old Great Game, Afghanistan acted as a buffer zone between the two powers of that time, the British Empire and Russia. Despite its geographically location, the landlocked state has played a significant role throughout history.
Due to such a long history of political unrest, violent elements were provided with a great platform to breed upon and this has been a case even today. The radical nature of the area which the world is facing today is the byproduct of countless proxy wars, which are now coming to haunt those who used the population to meet their own ends.
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The turn of the new millennia saw US invade Afghanistan following the events of 9/11. The invasion was conducted in a bid to counter terrorism but the war saw the whole world dragged into a pit there’s no getting out of.
US-Afghan War in numbers
The American-Afghan War bill is more than $1.35tn and if we ignore the financial cost of this adventure for a moment and focus on the results of spending such a huge chunk of money of the tax payers, one can forgive the people for feeling disappointed.
More than 3475 soldiers have lost their lives to this war. Great Britain on the other hand, has spent $40 billion on an exercise that its population accepts, has been nothing short of a spectacular failure.
The ledger does not justify the results from any angle, especially the loss of precious lives.
As mentioned earlier, the Afghan war failed to produce satisfactory results, despite the endless supply of finances, latest weaponry and time. After 14 years, the situation in Afghanistan is still the same. As things stand, US is still very much present there, albeit in lesser numbers than before but there is an overriding sense of failure among the troops and people back home. Comparing this to the Vietnam War would be unfair but in all honesty, recent events in Afghanistan seem to suggest that the largest military in the world has failed yet again and not a single target was met.
Events in the country from last week clearly show that American influence in Afghanistan is waning. The exit strategy has really backfired with the departure of a major chunk of American and NATO forces from the region, giving strength to the Taliban who are now looking to flex their muscles. For years, they had to be in hiding and did that very effectively. Now, they are looking to turn the tides.
Last week, provincial capital of Northern Afghanistan, Kunduz fell to the Taliban which is a clear proof that the White House may have deceived the world into thinking that the Afghan War was a success but has eventually cornered itself in a situation that should make the leaders blush.
US officials have started talking about the eventual failure of Afghan war
“U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko, says that, efforts aimed for development in Afghanistan have now cost more than the Marshall Plan that was put forth to reconstruct post-World War Two Europe.”
Global audience has seen Afghanistan exactly how it has been projected by Western media. However, the ground reality is completely opposite to the stories that have been giving channels great ratings over the years. Now, Afghan War is being dissected and inspected from other angles that in past, were not given much credence. Those who criticized US strategy when the Afghan War was in its initial phase, were scoffed at and branded for their naivety. Today, those people would be feeling a sense of vindication as they were right all along. The Afghan War, was going to cost America more than the Afghan people.
Today, many people are asking questions such as why no one has ever made a list of thousands of innocent live lost during this whole operation? What is the measure of success for the Whitehouse, since Taliban are still very active in the region.
Sadly, media has shown a very one-sided picture of the story, but in reality there is no glory to celebrate in terms of Afghan war.
Creation questions the creator
The militants the world has come to know as a symbol of terror, were created by America itself if history is given some time to be considered. During the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1980s, the US trained the young indigenous to run its proxy war against the USSR with a lot of help from Paksitan. However, after fulfilling their objectives through them, these warriors were left to their own devices. With just the skill set of killing and causing rampage, these people slowly returned to the only thing they ever knew and after some time, became stronger than US could ever imagine them to be. This was definitely a big miscalculation US’s part and something that is not surprising at all considering that the Pentagon has a history of deserting assets when its milestones are achieved.
Today these people have become a full-fledged operational organization with multiple sub groups and are operating on a vast scale. Third world countries are now under direct threat of invasion of such groups and even the western countries are facing this growing tension. US negligence has really brought this upon the world and even now, they are making countless blunders which clearly shows that the policymakers at the Pentagon are not really good at learning their lessons from history.
What exit strategy?
In his second term at the White House, Barack Obama announced the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan as he foresaw the situation getting better over there. However, it was a tad over-optimistic of him. Pentagon on the other hand, miscalculated and undermined the strength of the elements they were fighting against and overestimated the Afghan military.
Complete departure of US forces from Afghanistan would make the situation worse for its inhabitants and even for the world as a US exit is bound to have a domino effect. US cannot escape from what it created. Now, it is time for it to face it and take plausible measures to eliminate an enemy that has literally wreaked havoc and been behind so much bloodshed these past few years. Today, this deadly enemy has become much more organized that it used to be and has stretched its influence on a global level. It was given room to breathe and it thrived.
The recent events in Kunduz paint a horrific and grim picture of USA’s failure. Billions of dollars were injected in the Afghan forces but now, these forces have shown that they cannot cope with the Taliban uprising.
Afghan National Army troops have lost men on a regular basis and despite being well armed, are not very much experienced in this type of warfare. Tucking tail and leaving Afghanistan would definitely mean an official announcement from the Washington that it was a war that resulted in failure. There is no end in sight and US should be at least slowing the pace of withdrawal rather than completely withdrawing from the volatile region.
If waging a war on Afghanistan was a big mistake, leaving right now would be an even bigger mistake. It would be a clear message for the Taliban to turn the tide and wrest back control of the country from a government that is never going to last without American help.
The current withdrawal plan is asking for a total revamp. A decision to stay would understandably look like an act of desperation but at the same time, will be considered a logical one. With the way Russia and China have been furthering their global influence, the worst thing that America can do right now would be to run away from a war it started at a time when all that it achieved is at risk of being burned to the ground, which indeed would be a shame apart from a spectacular and embarrassing failure.