By Mohammad Mazhari

Afghan exit was worst-ever defeat in U.S. history: analyst

August 24, 2021 - 16:42
‘Neither Russia nor China regards the Taliban as an anti-American proxy force’

TEHRAN - A geopolitical analyst describes U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan as a mess and the worst-ever military defeat in U.S. history.

“The entire withdrawal is a mess and arguably the U.S. worst-ever military defeat in history, much worse than even during the last days of the Vietnam War,” Andrew Korybko tells the Tehran Times.

“The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan has been chaotic. It failed to establish military tripwires for deterring Taliban attacks until after American forces left the country, which it should have done in parallel with pressuring former Afghan President Ghani into making political compromises aimed at facilitating the creation of a transitional government partially comprised of Taliban representatives by that time too,” Korybko notes.

Biden has ordered the withdrawal of all the U.S. troops from Afghanistan by September 11. The Pentagon says it has already withdrawn more than 90 percent of its troops from the war-ravaged country.

Earlier, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters the U.S. went to Afghanistan to deliver justice to those who attacked them on September 11, to disrupt terrorists seeking to use Afghanistan as a safe haven to attack the United States.

“American officials recently denied that nation-building was their task but they previously claimed the opposite,” Korybko says.
 
“Their latest statements therefore shouldn't be taken as a sincere reflection of reality but as an attempt to save face for domestic political reasons ahead of next year's midterm elections considering how enraged many Americans are at their government's disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan.”

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: How do you describe U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan? Is the U.S. in a rush to leave Afghanistan?

A: The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan has been chaotic. It failed to establish military tripwires for deterring Taliban attacks until after American forces left the country, which it should have done in parallel with pressuring former Afghan President Ghani into making political compromises aimed at facilitating the creation of a transitional government partially comprised of Taliban representatives by that time too. The speed with which the Taliban took over the country, which was greatly aided by many members of the Afghan National Army (ANA) surrendering after either having lost the will to fight or because they sympathized with the group, surprised the U.S. America was, therefore, left scrambling to evacuate its citizens and some of its local allies. The entire withdrawal is a mess and arguably the U.S.'s worst-ever military defeat in history, much worse than even during the last days of the Vietnam War.

Q: Biden says that there "is never a good time to pull out of Afghanistan." What is your analysis?

A: It's not realistic for the U.S. to remain in Afghanistan to support its de facto authorities since the Taliban, which nowadays rules the country, doesn't want them there. If the question was about whether it shouldn't have pulled out, to begin with but instead stayed there to help the former U.S.-backed Afghan government, then the answer is also that it would have been unrealistic too. The U.S. couldn't militarily win in Afghanistan because the Taliban – regardless of however one feels about their ideology and some of the unconventional warfare tactics that they used during their two-decade-long anti-American insurgency – is genuinely popular at the grassroots level and widely regarded as a national liberation movement. No amount of support for the U.S.-backed government would have changed that popular perception in society and won hearts and minds to the American side. Biden's right in saying that there never was a good time to pull out of Afghanistan, but it was better to do this belatedly than to not have done it at all.

Q: Do you think Russia and China reconcile with the Taliban to drive back the Americans in Central Asia?

A: Neither Russia nor China regards the Taliban as an anti-American proxy force, let alone anywhere outside of Afghanistan, and they still officially designated it as terrorists. The group only operates within its homeland's borders, it hasn't ever expressed any desire to expand nor attempted to do such, so it's categorically incorrect to speculate that anyone – especially Russia and China – is using them to drive the U.S. out of the broader region. Moreover, those two countries retain pragmatic political ties with the Taliban and regard it as an anti-ISIS partner. They've also reconciled themselves with its genuine grassroots popularity in Afghan society and the need to incorporate it into a political solution for ending that country's civil war. Regrettably, these pragmatic engagements have been maliciously misportrayed by the Western mainstream media to manufacture fake news reports about allegedly deeper Russian and Chinese support for the Taliban supposedly premised on regional anti-American proxy intentions, but there's no truth to those claims at all.

Q: What was the U.S. goal in Afghanistan? Fighting terrorism or democratization? American officials say that nation-building was not their task.

A: American officials recently denied that nation-building was their task but they previously claimed the opposite. Their latest statements therefore shouldn't be taken as a sincere reflection of reality but as an attempt to save face for domestic political reasons ahead of next year's midterm elections considering how enraged many Americans are at their government's disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan. The U.S. invaded Afghanistan to “defend democracy” and “promote human rights”, as well as to exploit the geostrategically positioned country as a springboard for exporting regime changes throughout the broader region via color revolutions and unconventional warfare (both of which combine into the phenomenon known as hybrid war), but this failed due to the targeted states' resilience. Furthermore, the U.S. was unable to defeat the Taliban since this group gradually evolved from a terrorist organization into a national liberation movement with genuine grassroots support, which hampered America's ability to carry out its nation-building and regional regime change goals.

Q: How is the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan reflected in the American and global community in large given the pictures and videos circulating on social media?

A: It's of course reflected in an unquestionably negative light considering the dramatic optics on display, especially at the Kabul Airport. The whole withdrawal has been an unmitigated disaster, the magnitude of which surprised even the U.S. fiercest critics who hadn't expected it to be such a failure. Many Americans are disgusted at their government for bungling everything, and particularly for leaving behind so many of their citizens and abandoning local Afghan allies. The international community seems to have lost its faith in America's military prowess as well as its reliability as an ally. It'll take a very long time, if ever, for the U.S. to repair the self-inflicted damage to its reputation.


 

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