After 20 years, it’s back to square one in Afghanistan, with Kabul scenes reminiscent of US exit from Vietnam

Why the US couldn’t ‘train’ an ‘Afghan Army’ to take on the Taliban is a question that will haunt American war historians and military planners

After 20 years, it’s back to square one in Afghanistan, with Kabul scenes reminiscent of US exit from Vietnam

Sushil Kutty

The Afghan Taliban are in Kabul. And foaming at the mouth are Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo. Both blame President Joe Biden for doing a Vietnam on Afghanistan. Even the “helicopter picture” is surreal.

Throughout Sunday, August 15, India’s Independence Day, the Taliban were at the gates of Kabul, and President Ashraf Ghani fled to Tajikstan.

The Taliban’s Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, likely Taliban President, entered the Presidential Palace; but, hold on, wait for the "peaceful" transfer of power, reported Afghanistan’s ‘TOLONews’.

The last time the Taliban ruled was from 1996 to 2001. It was an oppressor’s regime. A bunch of the rag-tag ordering people around. Then, Mohammed Atta and his men brought the two New York towers down, and the Taliban were ousted to hunt down Osama Bin Laden. But because of American idiocy, Pakistan was overlooked.

To this day, the United States has failed to recognize Pakistani perfidy and duplicity. Of course, Pakistan can choose to align with whosoever, but to take dollars and then work behind the back is pure deceit.

So, after 20 years, it’s back to square one in Afghanistan. Osama Bin Laden is in a watery grave and America’s Afghan policy is buried 6 feet under.

President Joe Biden had set 9/11 for the withdrawal of all US troops. But the ‘salwar-clad’ Taliban fighter doesn’t need to gear up in multiple layers of camouflage. Besides, the American withdrawal was “rushed, poorly planned and chaotic”, the stamp of Vietnam clearly marked on the envelope.

Now, over 5000 fresh US troops have been airlifted to Afghanistan to evacuate the American embassy. And Biden is under attack from predecessor Donald Trump and Trump’s secretary of state Mike Pompeo. They blame Biden for everything gone wrong in Afghanistan.

What took everybody by surprise was the speed of the Taliban advance. Biden says the Ashraf Ghani government and the Afghani people, “they have got to fight for themselves.”

Maybe “learn to fight” is a better way of putting it. The one lesson from America’s Afghan fiasco of 20 years is: never ask the Americans to train your army. And it’s highly unlikely that the US can win a war without ‘fat man’ and ‘little boy’. The last time the Americans won a battle, much less a war, will require returning to WW-II. Vietnam failure. Iraq ignominy. Libya humiliation. And, now, the stink from Afghanistan.

Why the US couldn’t “train” an “Afghan Army” to take on the Taliban is a question that will haunt American war historians and military planners.

The complete collapse of the Afghan National Army is straight out of Ripley’s Believe it or not… Armed to the teeth and moving about in Humvees, yet the Afghan National Army folded like a pack of cards.

At least a quarter of the Afghan National Army are dead. The rest are awaiting slaughter. The Taliban do not stun before they kill. Terrorists now rule Afghanistan. Without a doubt, it was very callous of the Biden administration to leave the Afghan people to the whims and mercies of the Afghan Taliban, to fend for themselves.

In fact, if today there are people still in Afghanistan, it’s because they didn’t have places to go, and because they took calculated decisions to switch sides, their own interests foremost in mind. The idea was to minimize violence and save skin and whatever else that could be saved. Even the Taliban didn’t want large-scale violence – only the Sharia imposed, and the women confined to the stockade!

But the big story is that China is set to make a grand entry into the ‘Great Afghan Game’, knowing fully that Afghanistan is the “graveyard of empires”. If anything, China was just waiting for the US to withdraw. July 28, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi met Mullah Baradar and the two sealed a pact, with Baradar emphasizing that China had a prime role to play in the “reconstruction and development” of Afghanistan.

Wang Yi in turn asked Mullah Baradar not to entertain Uyghur and East Turkmenistan terrorists. China, it’s learnt, also wants to extend CPEC into Afghanistan and thereafter, maybe, into Iran, where Chabahar is a nice port to divert the Belt & Road Initiative to. Pakistan will be a partner. Wang Yi, after he met Baradar, had a meeting with Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. It's hard not to visualize what they must have discussed -- India naturally!

Of course, India had helped in the reconstruction and development of Hamid Karzai and Ashraf Ghani’s Afghanistan, including building the Afghanistan Parliament, but the Taliban have no place for a Parliament in their scheme of things, and the Taliban and India don’t see eye to eye.

Reuter’s Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist Danish Siddiqui had to pay with his life for trusting the Taliban to play fair and square. Fact is, the last time the Taliban played fair was when they promised to place the right foot ahead of the left foot.

(IPA Service)

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