By Andrew Korybko
August 31, 2021 – TEHRAN TIMES
The U.S. panicked retreat from Afghanistan following the Taliban’s complete takeover of the country leaves many lessons to be learned from America’s longest-ever war.
Tens of thousands of lives were lost and over $2 trillion was wasted only for the situation to revert back to how it was almost exactly twenty years ago. Now’s the time for its decision-makers, strategists, media, and civil society to somberly reflect on what went wrong in the hopes that nothing like this ever happens again. Here are the ten lessons to be learned:
Legitimate anti-terrorist actions mustn’t be exploited for ulterior motives
The U.S. had the international legal right to militarily respond against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan out of self-defense after it concluded that the terrorist group’s leader there was responsible for planning the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but its greatest mistake was exploiting this as the pretext to engage in so-called “nation-building”.
“Nation-building” will never succeed
It’s impossible to sustainably support the cause of so-called “nation-building” whereby a foreign country aggressively imposes its completely different way of life onto a targeted state’s inhabitants who historically organized their society on the basis of other morals, ethics, principles, and values.
Local allies must be held to account
After regrettably getting caught up in the Afghan quagmire, America had the responsibility to hold its allies there to account instead of letting them steal from their people, enrich themselves from the drug trade and other forms of organized crime, and carry out extrajudicial killings on the pretext of targeting the Taliban.
The international coalition doesn’t have impunity
America and its international coalition allies arrogantly thought that they could commit crimes against the Afghan people with impunity, but that was impossible since the rest of the world inevitably found out about their killings and other such unsavory acts even if justice isn’t yet served to the culprits.
Winning hearts and minds is more important than winning territory
Strategically speaking, the war was lost shortly after it began once the U.S. and its allies started abusing the Afghan people in terrible ways and therefore turned their hearts and minds towards the Taliban, which therefore made it impossible for the government to hold its ground despite being backed by the U.S. military.
The Western mainstream media always lies
The dramatic developments of the past two weeks during the Taliban’s lightning-fast conquest of the country shattered the countless lies spread by the Western mainstream media about the true state of affairs there, proving that they can’t ever be trusted about anything, whether it’s Afghanistan, China, or whatever else.
Inevitable military withdrawals must be carried out responsibly
The U.S. inevitable withdrawal wasn’t carried out responsibly since America should have ensured that it didn’t leave any military equipment behind, established tripwires for deterring Taliban attacks until it already left the country, and compelled former President Ghani to politically compromise towards a transitional government.
Political proxies sometimes defy their patrons
Part of the problem with the U.S. withdrawal was that its political proxy, former President Ghani, refused to make any meaningful compromises towards a transitional government that could have facilitated a smoother transfer of power and prevented America from being humiliated even more than it already was in recent days.
Local allies must be rescued during the withdrawal
The U.S. shamefully abandoned tens of thousands of its Afghan allies who fear for their futures after their American-backed government just fell, which shows how unreliable the U.S. is as an ally that it would leave its local allies to fend for themselves under such uncertain conditions instead of letting them relocate to America.
America will never be able to make amends for destroying Afghanistan but it can hopefully never repeat this travesty if it learns these ten lessons from that war. Everything that went wrong was entirely foreseeable and many even warned about what was happening but their concerns were dismissed as so-called “propaganda”. The truth finally came out though and now everyone knows that the entire war was built upon a mountain of lies and easily avoidable mistakes. The U.S.’ reputation is ruined and it’s no longer regarded as a superpower.
*Andrew Korybko is a political analyst, journalist, and regular contributor to several online journals, as well as a member of the expert council for the Institute of Strategic Studies and Predictions at the People’s Friendship University of Russia. He has published various works in the field of Hybrid Wars, including “Hybrid Wars: The Indirect Adaptive Approach To Regime Change” and “The Law of Hybrid War: Eastern Hemisphere”.
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