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NATO defeat in Afghanistan

The United States is going to totally withdraw from Afghanistan. The US gets nothing in return. The Taliban has the chance to take over the whole country.

Submitted by George Callaghan…

Uncle Sam is going home with his tail between his legs. John Bull is going with him. Johnny Cancuk, Marianne, Fritz and all the gang have also been humiliated. It is a defeat of unexampled ignominy.

Afghanistan has been by far the longest conflict in which the United States has been engaged. Yet after 19 years, 4000 deaths and countless billion splurged the United States has been vanquished. The other NATO countries have sustained a couple of thousand fatalities between them. As for NATO’s Afghan allies they have suffered tens of thousands of deaths.

The Taliban have not got off lightly. Tens of thousands of them have been slain. Huge numbers of Afghan civilians have also lost their lives.

A peace agreement has been signed with the Taliban. Make no mistake this is not a draw. It is an ignominious defeat for NATO.

The so called peace agreement is a face saving way of saying this is not defeat. But NATO has lost. It pains me to write it.  NATO belaboured the Taliban for two decades but never came close to conclusive victory.

What was NATO’s objective? It was to extirpate the Taliban. What was the Taliban’s objective? It was to survive. The Taliban has certainly not been wiped out. In fact it controls about 60% of the country. When the conflict began it controlled about 90% of the land. Although the Taliban was on the run for a while it made a comeback.

Make no mistake. I hold no brief for the Taliban. The Afghan people lived under insupportable oppression where the Talibs ruled. These theocrats, reactionaries and misogynists are odious.

NATO dealt the Taliban many mighty strokes of war. But such was the Taliban’s pertinacity that it was not crushed. They rose like phoenix from the ashes. They took shelter with their kith and kin over the Durand Line. They returned from Pakistan.

The Pakistanis have a vexed relationship with the Taliban. Pakistan is a society riven with ethnic, religious, regional, linguistic and social divisions. Certain elements of Pakistan were four square behind the Taliban. Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) is Pakistan’s answer to the CIA. ISI is Pakistan’s deep state. Despite there having been a formal military dictatorship for half of Pakistan’s short history it is the ISI which runs the country. The ISI is l’eminence grise. The ISI had at best a complicated relationship with the Taliban. At worst the Taliban was a mere emanation of the ISI. It is true that the Taliban sometimes attacked and killed the Pakistani Army. But they never attacked the ISI. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. There is rivalry and sometimes enmity between the ISI and the army.

The Taliban is not a monolith. Afghanistan consists of several ethno-linguistic groups. They are subdivided into tribes. Some Taliban factions clash with others. Certain Taliban factions in Pakistan clashed with the army and others did not.

The United States is going to totally withdraw from Afghanistan. The US gets nothing in return. The Taliban has the chance to take over the whole country.

This makes grim reading for anyone who cares about human rights in Afghanistan. What about free expression? What about women’s rights? What about freedom of conscience? Dare I mention elections?

The Republican Party castigated the Obama Administration for pulling out of Iraq. At that time Al Qa’eda and its Shia equivalents had been smashed. America’s allies ruled the whole country. ISIS had not been founded. The Iraqi Government did not agree to extend the US presence in most of the country. Obama was not going to keep his troops there against the express will of a sovereign state. That would be illegal occupation. Baghdad agreed to the US retaining one air base. The Obama withdrawal was sensible and timely. ISIS emerged a few years later. No one predicted that at the time. That was mainly owing to the Syrian debacle. The Grand Old Party then rounded on Obama. They lambasted him for not keeping troops in Iraq. Many Republicans had supported the withdrawal when it had been implemented. But hindsight is 20:20.

The Trump withdrawal is far worse than the Obama withdrawal. The Trump Administration is in effect handing Afghanistan over to America’s mortal foes. This defeat will suppurate in the US for decades. Apart from Vietnam this is only conflict that America has ever lost.

What not for Afghanistan? The Taliban will take over by hook or by crook. It might be through the guise of elections. But an Islamist caliphate shall be re-established. The country will then be an adjunct of Pakistan but have a strained relationship with Iran.

It has long been said that Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires. At Britain’s apogee she fought three wars against the Afghans. None of them were victorious for Victoria or George V. The USSR was drawn into the Afghan quagmire. Now America has to eat a generous helping of humble pie.

America’s harlequinade was always going to be a shit show. Anyone could have told you that. The US had to pretend it was battling against Islamic extremism when it truth America’s confederates there were also Islamic fundamentalists. The US was funding the Pakistanis who were arming the Taliban. Despite this the US carried on bankrolling the Pakistani generals. Washington DC said it was fighting for democracy. But everyone knows the US has often destroyed democracy and imposed dictatorships on lesser breeds without the law. Americans were told that their boys and girls were fighting to interdict drugs. But even the dogs in the street know that Hamid Karzai, America’s man I Kabul, was a scion of Afghanistan’s main opium cartel. Family is everything in Afghanistan. Everything!

To many in the USA this country is the puzzling east. Its mores are alien. There were many incidents when an Afghan soldier would kill several of his American comrades before being shot himself. Why? The people in the immediate surroundings of the shooter were all dead. We can only speculate that an American was culturally insensitive. He said or did something that mortally offended the Afghan. Any disrespect towards his faith or clan would be an insult that could only be purged with blood.

The hearts and minds stratagem was only semi-successful. It bore fruit in the more liberal areas. Aid was all too often creamed off by functionaries and warlords. Too little percolated down to the poverty-stricken people. Peculation is a way of life here. As for the hard-pressed farmers of course they were going to grow opium poppies. The culture of opium pays an order of magnitude more than any cereal crop.

What lessons can we learn from the blood-soaked sand? NATO does not lack for equipment. It suffers no dearth of money. Its troop numbers are low. It lacks staying power. There is no determination. With pertinacity victory would have been obtainable. NATO countries were unwilling to pay the blood price. If they had gone all out for victory it would have been won. Supposing NATO had been prepared to suffer not 6 000 deaths but 60 000 deaths then victory would have been achieved.

We all know that Pakistan played both sides of the street. If NATO had got serious with Islamabad then the outcome could have been different. NATO would have had to have put the fear of the Lord into the Pakistanis. Relying on provisions and munitions coming via Pakistan made NATO a hostage to fortune. These supply convoys were regularly destroyed by the Taliban often with the connivance of the Pakistani drivers. Supplying NATO forces exclusively by air would have been much costlier. But it would have had the virtue of not indirectly funding the Taliban which is what paying Pakistani drivers did. At the very least NATO would have had to say to the Pakistanis you do not provide a safe haven for the Taliban or you will not get a cent out of us. Drone strikes on Taliban positions in Pakistan did some good. As the operation to kill Bin Laden showed more raids could have succeeded. The Pakistani Military was caught napping. In the final analysis NATO would have had to have shown brinksmanship to win. NATO needed to be willing to say to the Pakistanis you must annihilate the Taliban or we will come in and do it. If Islamabad said then that will be war then NATO needed to say: so be it. NATO might have been able to enlist Indian support.

The Taliban had nothing but their propitiations to Allah to aid them. If I were not so rational then I might imagine that these orisons had something to them.

So much for Trump being a toughie. He said in 2016 he wanted to pull out of Afghanistan as soon as he became president. If he had done so the day he took office that would have spared a lot of immiseration. As it happens he had his troops fight on in a losing battle. The result has been the same.

The Afghan misadventure raises fundamental questions about the assumptions that underpin the Atlantic Alliance. What is NATO for? If NATO cannot put paid to a few dirt farmers with small arms then what chance does NATO stand against a superpower?

What can we learn from this unedifying episode? Do not fight. If you are going to fight it cannot be a half war. You need grit and resolve. You must go all out for victory.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.

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Snow bunting
Snow bunting
March 13, 2020

Over the years NATO has constantly redefined it’s objectives in Afghanistan to reflect it’s humiliating defeat. The war has enriched some Afghans, as well as elites associated with the US military industrial complex. They will need in future to foment other pointless and costly wars in order to enrich themselves, and the US political apparatus and mercenary MSM will dutifully support the carnage.

Valli S
Valli S
March 13, 2020

I’m taking note here of the photo. I highly doubt the man on the left has the same DNA as the other’s. In fact, he is European, it appears. Just saying. Thanks for the reporting.

BobValdez
BobValdez
Reply to  Valli S
March 14, 2020

Good call. When I saw this photo, the exact same thing occured to me too, definately European or american.

Guy
Guy
March 13, 2020

For anyone that has been following geopolitics ,it is a known fact that NATO is an irrelevant ,spent organization.There is no longer any need for this war propaganda instrument for the arms mfg. NO need at all . All NATO countries can do is rattle the proverbial saber but knowing that it does not have any teeth any more. Russia the bete noire du jour for these miscreant narrative generators would make short shrift of anyone daring to attack or invade their sovereign territories .China would do the same.And we all know where this would end .With the living envying… Read more »

bluedogg
bluedogg
March 13, 2020

Why should NATO have gone full out loosing thousands of men and women in a war where their dog had no fight in a war between the U.S. and the people of Afghanistan.It was a war the U.S. created so why should NATO even think that they should become involved in the U.S.’S shit storm,hell we haven’t won a war since 1945 and that one was we the help of many countries while Russia won the one in Europe.!!!

Sanjeev
Sanjeev
Reply to  bluedogg
March 14, 2020

Because NATO is America’s tool, paid for by European poodles

Olivia Kroth
Reply to  Sanjeev
March 14, 2020

NATO = NORTH ATLANTIC TERRORIST ORGANIZATION

penrose
penrose
March 13, 2020

When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Soldier of the Queen!

Rudyard Kipling

ManintheMoon
ManintheMoon
March 13, 2020

The last paragraph undermined the whole tenor of the article. The was a war that could not be won – you cannot go all out for victory when you cannot define the ‘victory’. I remember arguing with a friend about this right at the start of the war and using the exact phrase that America would leave with their tails between their legs. It only surprises me that they’ve wasted two decades before accepting the obvious. No, George Callaghan the lesson of this war is not to go all out for victory – impossible without massacring the entire population –… Read more »

Harold
Harold
March 13, 2020

Yes…but Uncle Sam is standing up for fair play in Guyana’s election where the Govt is holding on to power despite losing the March 2 general election. Hats off to Uncle Sam

SteveK9
SteveK9
March 14, 2020

You are very mixed up. Afghanistan was 100% successful, just ask the Chief Executive Officer of Lockheed Martin.

TEP
TEP
March 14, 2020

There is so much manipulation of truth in this article I don;t know where to start, so I’ll just post some examples (from the first half – I could not continue after reading the last example). “NATO has lost … it pains me to write it” Really? It fills the multipolar world with joy. “NATO’s objective .. was to extirpate the Taliban.” I seriously doubt it, probably more to do with positioning of US military bases, the Poppy trade and making many US oligarchs & their sidekicks very wealthy”. “who cares about human rights … free expression … elections?” Tell… Read more »

Adispeaks
Adispeaks
March 14, 2020

Creation of Taliban was a joint project of US, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to drive out the Red Army and secular leftist government of Najibullah. They succeeded in that project. US cared less for the Afghan people back then. It was all geo-politics and inflicting losses on the Red Army. For the Saudis, it was an opportunity to turn a secular country into an Islamic republic. One of their men who fought against the Soviets, later went on to establish Al-Qaida. Pakistanis wanted a client state on their western border in addition to being seen as an important American partner… Read more »

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