America’s Fizzle in Afghanistan

America’s Fizzle in Afghanistan

    In the end, after two decades and an investment of over $3 trillion, the USA handed over Afghanistan to the same people whom it had ostracized for illegally taking control of the country. Apart from losing the longest war in Afghanistan, it has also failed in ameliorating the lives of Afghan people despite the staggering amount of money pumped into the country over the past two decades. The entire American investment, coupled with 300,000 fully-outfitted and trained army, floundered within a week of strenuous and assertive Taliban’s offensive. The Americans were left in utter shock and astonishment owing to such a swift and unanticipated collapse of their most touted Afghan project. Besides, the Biden administration imputed the entire debacle on the Ghani government after facing the deluge of criticism for bitterly debasing and humbling withdrawal from Afghanistan.

    As long as US and NATO troops tarried in Afghanistan, some illusion of success was upheld. But with the withdrawal of foreign troops, various provinces of Afghanistan fell one after another to the Taliban’s offensive, and the domino effect ended on 15th Aug 2021 with the Taliban completely taking over the country. Against the Taliban’s offensive, Afghan National Defense Security Forces (ANDSF) turned out to be deeply incompetent and useless. On paper, this should have been impossible for two reasons. Firstly, ANDSF clearly out-numbered Taliban with the ratio of 4 by 1 respectively. Secondly, both Taliban and Afghan security personnel were recruited from the same talent pool. But close assessment says otherwise.

    After ANDSF forces surrender or desertion, it was discovered that most of the Afghan army consisted of ghost soldiers. This means that they were actively serving their country only in papers; in reality, they were not around. Besides, they were ill-equipped and inadequately trained. This resulted because of no oversight from the authorities and colossal corruption. Owing to these reasons, ANDSF forces were mere pushovers for the Taliban and Afghanistan fell within a few days.

    Apropos rebuilding Afghanistan, the dismal performance of the USA is quite flagrant and this fact is endorsed by many people in the US government. To review American efforts of reconstruction, Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) was appointed by the US government. SIGAR had been rejective and critical of the US state reconstruction efforts. According to the 11th report of SIGAR, the USA had had many abortive attempts of state-building in Afghanistan. It is implausible and preposterous why such warnings were not heeded, especially since these warnings were coming from a body created by the US government itself. 

    As mentioned earlier around $3 trillion was plough into Afghanistan, nevertheless, a big chunk was spent solely on American soldiers and their vehicles. A whopping $2 trillion was spent on sustenance for the US soldiers. Besides, much of the share went to Afghan forces. Around $82 billion was spent on the Afghan military which deserted them in the hour of need and left behind all the weapons for the Taliban. So when they say that trillions of dollars were invested in Afghan nation-building, it should be rephrased as “trillions of dollars were invested in militarizing the region and leaving weaponry for Taliban to make them more audacious”.

    As regards the US credibility as an ally, it is safe to say that it has never been one. The credibility of the USA had been dingle dangle since the Anglo-French War (1793–1802) in which America failed to live up to its promise of supporting its French ally, who had stood by it during the American Revolution. Not just Anglo-French War (1793–1802) war where America has turned its back on its friends, history is replete with such precedents. 

    After the Afghanistan debacle, many of its NATO allies are rejective of supporting the USA in its foreign military campaigns anymore. The reason is that the USA unilaterally made the decision of withdrawing troops during the Trump administration, then reviewing it during the early days of Biden’s administration, and then finally a hurried and rash withdrawal in August. All these decisions were made unilaterally, without consulting other stakeholders. With this track record, irrefragably USA will not be able to pull it off with its allies in the future. And I think the USA already knows it which is why Biden stated that the USA will no longer work as an international cop.

    No other country but America itself is responsible for its failure in Afghanistan because a foreign power cannot dictate methods of nation-building, especially through the barrel of the gun. Rather, it comes from within by the dint of changing perception and discussion. Although it is a hard lesson to digest, yet it must be digested not only for its own sake but also for the rest of the world. Americans must deliberate a hundred times before recklessly intervening in a foreign country in the future. The time is opportune for the USA that it has some soul-searching and find out what part of its policy is impelling to such herculean misadventures. In this regard, the American populace can also not be exonerated from the horrific consequences of their government’s miscalculations in America. American voters should ask their leaders about their myopic and miscommunicated policies in Afghanistan, as it was the ordinary taxpayers’ money that was wasted there.

Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime 

–Ernest Hemingway 

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