Afghanistan News

Afghanistan: A Final Nail in the Coffin of American Foreign Policy

The valuable lesson President Joe Biden is teaching future allies by allowing Afghans to fall from the wings of departing jets is that the US will not defend you.

Shutterstock © Trent Inness

August 27, 2021 08:05 EDT

When the United States began Operation Enduring Freedom, leading its forces into Afghanistan to empower local resistance to oust the Taliban, Afghans around the world cheered in sheer jubilance. The unipolar hero that is the United States of America had come to save the day and defeat the wicked Taliban, presided over by the one-eyed tyrant Mullah Mohammad Omar. But now, after 20 years of “missteps,” “miscalculations” and “misunderstandings,” we Afghans now wonder whether we were grossly mistaken.

The DC foreign policy community, nevertheless, has come up with predictably uncreative rebuttals to accusations of failure. We trained the Afghans wrong, the story went, ignoring the fact that Afghan soldiers have held their own for the entirety of the war. Leadership was weak, they said, ignoring the fact the US endorsed the power-sharing deal that kept those leaders in power. The Afghans couldn’t build an economy, we were told, ignoring the fact John F. Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, had been consistently putting out reports for over a decade pointing out that the US strategy needed dramatic reimagining. There was no local support and Afghans had no will to fight, they surmised, ignoring the fact that Afghan special forces continue to defend their homeland.

What the World Can Learn From the Events in Afghanistan


These excuses and reflections come as little surprise to those the United States has already abandoned: the South Vietnamese to the northern Viet Cong, the Iraqis to Iran and the Islamic State, the Kurds to the Turks, and, most notably, the American troops who had fought and sacrificed their lives in these “forever wars” to history. All were left to perish at the hands of an evil so vile that the US had no other option but to first invade, only to later leave, suggesting that maybe the evil was not so bad after all.

Vietnam, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan: seven different administrations, Democrat and Republican. Kabul is simply the latest victim learning the valuable lesson President Joe Biden is teaching future allies by allowing Afghans to fall from the wings of departing American jets: The US will not defend you. 

All an adversary needs to do is be consistent and not give up. Time after time we have been shown that if the resistance is stubborn enough, the US will inevitably turn its back, exclaim, “What can we say, the locals just can’t be helped!” while waiting for a politically opportune time — just long enough before any election so that constituents forget — and then buck and run.

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China’s state-run media has already begun to propagate this message to Taiwan: The US will abandon you, maybe not in five years, maybe not in 10 or even 20, but it will abandon you eventually — and we will be here. For once, China’s propaganda departments are perhaps not wrong. The US can’t rely on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, given its non-interference principle. Japan’s self-defense forces aren’t equipped to assist. South Korea has its hands full with the north. The US Navy is not built for combat with China’s modern and flexible fleet, and there are no ideal places to base and supply consistent military engagement in Taiwan.

Likewise, politics will always play a role in US military engagements, but would its domestic population ever stomach a hot conflict with China over an island it shares no language, culture or customs with outside of it being a democracy?

China, on the other hand, holds the good cards. It has more ships than the US Navy. Taiwan is just 100 miles away, and the Chinese people are fanatical about reunification. And, just like the Taliban, Beijing isn’t going anywhere.

US Vice President Kamala Harris has proclaimed that the US will not tolerate China’s unlawful actions in the South China Sea, recently reaffirming Washington’s commitment to its allies. But will the vice president 20 years into a “forever war” with China think the same?

It’s likely that future White House administrations will have new considerations, ones that might make a trillion-dollar war with China far less palatable to the US voter base than trillion-dollar climate change legislation to end America’s fossil fuel dependency. Then all the US foreign policy community has to do is look back and state that the failure was a result of “missteps,” “miscalculations” and “misunderstandings,” entirely forgetting that the last time these blunders were made, they vowed to learn from their mistakes, and they vowed to stand by their allies.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.


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