After 17 years of war, the US Commander-in-Chief General John W. Nicholson Jr. three years ago, the Kabul government declared that it remained “completely dependent” on foreign aid “in the foreseeable future.” An autonomous action of the Afghan government in Kabul is not foreseeable and an end to the war actions is “not in sight”.
Three years later, the situation remains disastrous. On 15 April 2021, the NZZ reported under the title “The USA is abandoning Afghanistan": “The number of civilian casualties is increasing every month. “More than half of the land area is controlled by the Taliban. Newspapers of the Tamedia group titled " * Biden presents the Taliban and al-Qaeda*”. But a look at history makes the withdrawal from Afghanistan understandable.
Nato under US leadership wants to withdraw its troops completely by 11 September 2021. According to several sources, there are currently around 2,500 US soldiers and 6,300 military personnel from other NATO countries stationed in Afghanistan. In addition, there are US special forces and private mercenary troops, whose numbers are rarely known.
Because of the war, half a million of the approximately 35 million inhabitants had to leave their ancestral places within the country. Many more left the country for Europe. Last year, the second largest number of asylum seekers in EU countries came from Afghanistan (see chart). The United States is hardly affected by the refugees. Today, more than half of the population lives on less than 5.5 dollars per day. According to the World Hunger Index, 30 percent of the population is malnourished. Due to poverty, violence and resettlement, at most two thirds of all children attend school. According to the latest report of the US Control Authority of January 2021 on the use of US funds, Afghanistan is still the largest opium producer in the world.
According to the Pentagon, the war alone cost US taxpayers 45 billion dollars every year. Add to this the costs of the other NATO states. Since the beginning of the war, these war expenditures have amounted to well over a trillion dollars. In addition, Afghanistan received over a trillion dollars in “development aid” from about seventy states, international organizations and thousands of aid organizations. Instead of waging war, these sums could have paid out about 60,000 dollars to each inhabitant. With such a gift from heaven, fewer men would have been recruited by the Taliban or Al-Qaeda, and consumption would have boosted the economy.
Hundreds of billions to build a government army
For 16 years, the US military had been trying to build a professional Afghan army, said retired General Karl W. Eikenberry, who had led NATO forces in Afghanistan and then became US ambassador in Kabul. “We always believed that the leaders of the Afghan army also wanted to fight the insurgents in the first place. But often this is not the case.“For many, benefits for the family clan and their own ethnic group were just as important,“Eikenberry told the New York Times. Also, some army leaders did not want to lose their personnel stocks in battles, because they also help them to earn income.
Every year, NATO countries paid almost four billion dollars for the * civil reconstruction*. In November 2020, a donor conference in Geneva pledged a further three billion annually for the years up to 2024. This is “the absolute minimum” to avoid a collapse of state institutions, the World Bank said.
In addition to the income from drug trafficking, NATO troops and the many NGOs became one of the most important sources of income, from which, however, almost only the elites in Kabul and other cities benefited. As a result, the Afghan middle class has an interest in the war continuing.
Interests of Pakistan, Russia and Iran
The geographical position of Afghanistan means that not only the US and NATO are interested in who and how governs Kabul and how, but also these neighbouring countries.
Russia and Iran want to prevent a permanent NATO presence in Afghanistan.
Pakistan supports all forces that are anti-Indian, including Afghan Talibans.
A strategic goal of China is the development of a new silk road, one variant of which touches the north of Afghanistan.
It lure huge deposits of raw materials
The USA, China, Russia and other foreign powers are particularly interested in the exploitation of huge reserves of raw materials.
- Foreign corporations and governments are not only interested in large natural gas and oil fields, but especially in the enormous quantities of lithium and rare earths.
The international demand for Lithium is increasing enormously. Lithium is particularly needed for small and large lithium-ion batteries and rechargeable batteries. Without them, there would be no laptops, smartphones or electric cars today. In almost all of the billions of existing modern mobile devices, from cordless screwdrivers to the aircraft, such batteries are used. In 2010, the New York Times quoted from a report by the US Department of Defense that Afghanistan could become” Saudi Arabia for lithium.” Foreign powers will continue to interfere in Afghanistan.
Warning voices: It’s not about terrorism
Shortly after the US attack on Afghanistan as part of the “War on Terror” after 9/11, columnist William Pfaff warned in the International Herald Tribune in October 2001: “Instead of terrorism, Afghanistan is now being attacked, because Afghanistan is militarily vulnerable, not terrorism.“Terrorism is not embodied by one country: “Terrorism is only an aggressive form of political action, with political motives and goals, which is repeated throughout history.”
Instead of seeking political solutions, they increasingly rely on brutal violence and rely on allies who are currently offering themselves, even if this threatens to create chaotic conditions in Afghanistan and the war against terrorism is running smoothly. “The causes of terrorism remain, because they are political in nature,” Pfaff said finally. “Afghanistan and the Afghans do not pose a threat to the United States, but they are the ones who feel the full force of American anger (after 9/11). The priorities of the US government are turned upside down.”
As a reminder: Between 1979 and 1989, the CIA had supplied weapons to various Mujahedin groups for three billion dollars (for the fight against the Russian occupiers), from which the Taliban also emerged. Nato countries such as Germany had supplied the Mujahedin via Pakistan with a “soft” Material, such as gas masks, night-vision equipment, tents, etc.
Hillary Clinton: “We funded our opponents today”
“We are harvesting what we have sown in Afghanistan today,” declared Hillary Clinton as US Secretary of State in 2010. At the time, she hardly imagined that the harvest would be catastrophic twenty years later.