The late Robert Fisk, who the New York Times described as “a dauntless journalist who was widely praised by colleagues and competitors alike for relentlessly chronicling the Middle East’s many agonies”, spoke of the difficulties of ruling Afghanistan. A country, which operated through tribal alliances and virtually no central authority throughout its 3,000-year history, broke the hearts and bodies of every invader that tried to colonize and rule it.
Fisk made the point about the various communist governments the Russians supported in Afghanistan: “But among the tribes, deep within the deserts and valleys of Afghanistan, the same communist governments had been trying to cajole and then force upon these rural societies a modern educational system in which girls as well as boys would go to school, at which young women did not have to wear the veil, in which science and literature would be taught alongside Islam. Twenty-one years later, an American president would ostentatiously claim that these were among his own objectives in Afghanistan,” Fisk stated. It should be remembered that it was the US that coaxed the USSR to invade Afghanistan in 1979, and then orchestrated their defeat after a ten-year war.
Today we are witnessing the end of the most recent example of Imperial hubris committed by the new kid on the block – the Americans. Various writings about Afghanistan have almost always included the phrase “the graveyard of empires.” Google it and the phrase pops up everywhere.
The writing of the ultimate withdrawal of US forces, we are now witnessing, was on the wall for some time, but the Americans didn’t or wouldn’t read it. Instead, they took a page out of former president George HW Bush who famously said: “I will never apologize for the United States — I don’t care what the facts are. … I’m not an apologize-for-America kind of guy.”
Even as we watch the Taliban armed forces take power as they march into Kabul with hardly a shot fired as the bogus government the Americans installed and armed to the teeth with the best weapons in the US armory, melted away carrying buckets of dollars, while the fleeing Americans cursed the Taliban, tails between their legs a la Saigon 1975. As was their wont, they didn’t care about the facts; neither did their willing accomplices – the NATO countries with Canada proudly “punching above its weight” according to the country’s political elite and mainstream media scribes.
Travelling thousands of miles to the other side of the world, the mighty Americans and their imperial toadies paid scant attention to the warnings of the countries that shared borders with Afghanistan, and instead dropped enough bombs on the country that made all previous wars look like a picnic.
Even as the Americans flee in utter disarray, Afghans clinging to the wings of US military cargo planes falling off like bits of loose fuselage, the Americans seek to blame their current and former presidents for the debacle – why did we leave, we didn’t send enough troops (forgetting that they had 500,000 soldiers in Viet Nam and still lost); we cannot be faulted for trying to civilize a backward people etc.
Meanwhile, Russia, China and Pakistan, who share borders with Afghanistan, have been engaging with the Taliban and other Afghans (even during the twenty years of the US occupation), while the US spent nearly a trillion dollars trying to build Afghanistan in its own image.
Now it’s these countries that are in the best position to push the brutal Taliban into a more liberal way of governing through negotiation, political dialogue and trade. In other words, they are engaging in diplomacy, a skill that America seems to have never learned.
Even so, the vengeful Americans are talking about economic sanctions against the Taliban as if the Chinese, Russians and Pakistanis really care. And in their last act of war, they delivered drone strikes purportedly to kill the terrorists that attacked the airport, which killed a number of Afghans and 13 US soldiers. Instead US managed to kill a family of ten whose house just happened to be located too close to the spot where the US bomb landed. That is par for the course during the 20 year US invasion and occupation.
They’re still not reading the writing on the wall, and still don’t care what the facts are.