December 6, 2022

The ‘Defeat’ of the United States in Afghanistan

Prof. Toba Alabi.

In the past twenty four hours it became clear that Kabul would fall to the Taliban forces. During this period I have read a lot of interesting write-ups of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan and the take over of power by the Talibans in that country.

Of the divergent views that I read, there are two strands of ideas that are discernible. The first is that America has been defeated and humiliated from Afghanistan, in the same matter the country was humiliated in Vietnam.

The second is that the American superpower Status is coming to an end and that the billions of dollars that America invested in Afghanistan went down the drain. And that America is now worse off.

Perhaps, the pertinent question is: why did America invade Afghanistan in the first instance and where is the place of national interest of the United States in the whole scenario?

The United States’ invasion of Afghanistan was in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks of New York and Washington that left over three thousand dead. That was the worst attack on the United States since the 18th century. Was the American response of invading Afghanistan a legitimate approach to acts of terrorism? Certainly, yes. No self respecting nation would toy with its territorial integrity violated by another nation without using all the resources at its desposal to redress this affront.

The only exception is the weak developing nations that will run to the UN or the International Court of Justice for solution. The basic point here is that the UN and its agencies might be relevant to some extent in the arbitration in the Third World nations. But where the interests of the World powers are at stake, the UN is a complete nuisance. What has the UN achieved in the Israeli occupation of the Arab territories since 1967 when the Six Day War ended? Nothing. What did it do when the United States invaded Grenada, Panama and Iraq? Absolutely nothing.

The problem with most Third World analysts is that they view the interests of the World powers from those of their countries, subregions and continents. Is this how to analyse international affairs? Perhaps not.

United States is trying to prevent terrorist attacks of its territory, deal with the trade inbalance with China, fight Covid-19, provide clean energy, research in the outer space and increased technological breakthroughs. While they are trying to address these issues, poverty, banditry, insurgency, ignorance and babarism are the daunting realities in the developing nations. The lenses with which the wretched nation of the world view the world are so different from that of the West.

In the twenty years that America stayed in Afghanistan, was the Al-Qa’ida able to launch any attacks on the United States? No. Is Osama bin Laden now a threat to American interests any where in the world? Certainly not. Is it likely that the September 11 attacks on the United States could ever be repeated in the United States in the near future? This might not be precisely predicted. But this is very unlikely. The fate of Saddam Hussain and Osama bin Laden will continue to be an everlasting reminder of the stupidity of attacking any American interests anywhere in the world.

Morality in the international system will always remain a tragic farce. For how long will the United States remain in Afghanistan? Eternity? If after twenty years Afghanistan cannot define its future what’s the business of the United States in that country again?

This is what I wrote yesterday on my old secondary school’s platform:
“… Mind you Donald Trump withdrew the American troops from Northern Syria. For how long can the Americans remain in Afghanistan. They have been there for 20 long years. If they remain there for 50 years, at the end of the day, the Talibans will still take over the country. The Western liberal democracy hardly works in the Arab world. The only exception perhaps being Turkey.

Joe Biden is a realistic President. He is acting in the best interest of the United States.”
I went further to state that:
“.. . The Americans took the war to the doorsteps of the enemy. Killed Osama bin Laden and Sadam Hussain. Since that time America has remained safe at home. I am very sure that the terrorists will think twice now before they attack American interests anywhere in the world. The killing of the Iranian General in Iraq in 2020 by the American drones has sent a very strong message to the terrorist cells across the world. Beware of the United States!”

For me, the withdrawal of the United States forces from Afghanistan at this present moment is the most realistic option to the United States. My advice here to the West is to have a more balanced approach to the Palestinian crisis. The two states solution would indeed help to reduce tension in that region and even perhaps in the entire world.

There is no morality in the international system. You are responsible for your security and the destiny of your nation. Period!