Learn from Afghanistan

The lessons of the Afghanistan disaster

Numerous Afghans, young and old, literally stick to the US transport plane at Kabul airport. The pilot still receives the order to fly off. This image can never be erased from memory, it depicted the immense despair of these people, who risked everything to spare themselves a new suffering. It is well known that the acting President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, fled in mid-August with suitcases full of US dollars. Less known, however, is its coup with the change of power: the evening before his flight, the president ordered a situation meeting in the neighboring Ministry of Defense for the following day. All the members of the government, from different factions and tribes, concentrated on this fateful meeting, but did not know that Ashraf Ghani was up to something completely different: he was, it is reported, negotiating with the Taliban of the Pashtun Haghani tribe, of which he himself is a member, in order to hand over the presidential palace and thus the government to them, and not to the Taliban from the rival Durrani tribe. Tribal loyalties and conflicts are manifestly manifest in Afghanistan, and they are actually reflected in all spheres, in the government, in the army and in state institutions. Against this background, would ignorance of the archaic tribal tradition deeply rooted in Afghan society possibly be the real cause of the disastrous failure of the US and the West in Afghanistan? Not at all. There is much to suggest that the US was not particularly interested in such issues, because it was never its goal anyway to modernize Afghanistan, to enforce human and women's rights or the rule of law. Not only since Nine Eleven, i.e. since 20, but for more than 40 years, the USA has been pursuing completely different goals in Afghanistan.

Even at the height of the Cold War, the US turned Afghanistan, one of the poorest countries in the world, into a theater of war to engage the Soviet Union in a war against the Afghan Mudjahedin. Zbigniew Brzezinzki, Jimmy Carter's security adviser, openly boasted that his strategy had given communist rivals their own Vietnam. In 1978, on Brzezinski's advice, the US did indeed arm the strictly Islamic Mudjahedin, who were resisting the modernization policies of the godless Communists in Kabul on a massive scale, and so harassed the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan that it called on its protective power, the Soviet Union, to help. The SU fell into Brzezinzki's trap, invaded Afghanistan with the Soviet Army in 1979, and engaged in a grueling war against the Afghan Mudjahedin that lasted nearly 10 years, culminating in the ignominious defeat of the world's second strongest army with tremendous human and material losses. This wrong decision has certainly given the disintegration of the SU a powerful boost.

The only remaining superpower USA set a trap for itself after Nine Eleven with War on Terror in Afghanistan and finally had to leave Afghanistan in August 2021 after 20 years, the longest war in which the USA has ever been involved, and involuntarily admit their defeat. The failure on the whole military, political and moral line is so obvious that no serious person dares to gloss it over, apart from some politicians and journalists who were eternally yesterday. In no other US war have all the abysmal intentions, lies, humanitarian catastrophic consequences been so clearly brought to light in the world public as in this war:

The worst moral offence of the US and its NATO allies is, with their promise to protect human and women's rights and establish the rule of law in Afghanistan, first to exploit the legitimate desires and longings for freedom, emancipation and a modern way of life of millions of women and men in the country for their own purposes, and then to betray them at a stroke. The statement of US President Biden "we never wanted to introduce democracy in Afghanistan" exposes the grandiose deception of the people of Afghanistan and the world. It is also a resounding slap in the face to the US allies, who have also been coerced into lying to their own populations. All attempts in the last century to modernize Afghanistan from above have failed, so Mohammad Daoud Khan, after he overthrew the monarchy in 1973, failed due to the resistance of the 40 percent strongest population group with deeply rooted tribal structures, an extremely rigid patriarchy and a strict Islamic faith close to Wahabism in Saudi Arabia. The communist-led People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan, which took power in 1978, also failed because of the encrusted traditions of the dominant Pashtun tribes. Even the division of this party had its roots in rivalry among the Afghan tribes. What lessons can be learned from the Afghan disaster?

First, it must be stated that although the US and its NATO allies have failed, the US military-industrial complex as the real winner is as strong as ever. At least a third of the US war costs, which, according to the Watson Institute, amounted to 2260 thousand billion dollars between 2001 and 2021, went directly to the armaments sector. Despite the tremendous suffering of numerous peoples in the Middle East, this branch of industry of the United States has always been the winner of the war. The least NATO would have to do now in view of the completely senseless war costs for the peoples of the member states would be to withdraw the NATO 2 percent target of 2014 and immediately stop further increases in arms spending in Germany. The disaster in Afghanistan is proof that NATO's previous war operations have been completely pointless and have produced nothing but human suffering for numerous peoples and for their own soldiers, nothing but destruction of the environment and the economy of the affected countries and nothing but even more terrorism. The real reason for strengthening NATO's performance by increasing defence spending has ultimately proved to be a farce and served solely to subsidise the defence industry.

Secondly, on the occasion of the Nine Eleven terrorist attack, the NATO allies of the USA expressed their full solidarity with the USA, followed the NATO alliance case proclaimed at the insistence of the USA, despite international law concerns, and participated in the Afghan war to the bitter end, despite growing criticism from their own populations. However, what the US really thinks of the solidarity of NATO allies, they showed quite openly, by the US government before the withdrawal of the US Army from Afghanistan did not even inform their allies in advance. Never before has the US shown its disdain for NATO allies as openly as in this decision. Caught, hung. For some time now, the US has pursued a tough hegemonic policy at the expense not only of third world peoples, but also of its own NATO allies. It is therefore time for the US's Western allies to seriously reconsider their security dependence, or more precisely, their subordination to the US. A European army, brought into play by militaristic circles in the EU in response to the indisputable unreliability of the US, can now provoke a new arms race in the face of the military strength of the nuclear powers armed to the teeth, but never increase security for Western states. Instead, the governments of Western states in Europe and Asia must finally recognize that regional security architectures not only mean more security for them, but also have the potential to initiate comprehensive disarmament, especially of nuclear weapons. Regional security – along with Russia in Europe and China in Asia-should not only increase the readiness of these two nuclear powers to disarm their nuclear arsenal, but also persuade the United States to nuclear disarmament. As long as the US military-industrial complex is firmly in the saddle in all areas of US society, there is no prospect that US governments can rally to nuclear disarmament from within. The pressure must therefore come from outside.

Thirdly and finally, Afghanistan's neighbouring countries Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and China would have the historic opportunity, all together and under the supervision of the United Nations, to settle the refugee issue. After all, it is precisely these states, but above all Pakistan and Iran, that are the main victims, which have taken in more than 8 million Afghans in the last three decades. In addition, possible security threats that could arise from a Taliban government against the neighbouring states can be contained through regional cooperation. Finally, and ultimately, the real danger of inciting the Taliban government against neighboring states could be nipped in the bud. To do this, a conference of these states would have to be convened on the initiative of the UN Secretary General Guterres. However, NATO countries would have no place at such a regional conference as Annalena Baerbock has proposed. The Green candidate for Chancellor apparently wants to turn the buck into a gardener – a slap in the face of the suffering peoples in the Middle East.