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With An Overflowing Foreign Policy Inbox

It is being seen that now, the Taliban are armed with modern American weapons, which have been left behind by the US Forces in Afghanistan. Naturally, those weapons have increased their strength. Often, the Taliban fighters are seen posting their pictures with the US weapons on Social Media, showcasing their might. It may be noted that the Afghan Government had purchased those arms from the US for USD 2.8 billion. Apart from selling the weapons from 2002 to 2017, the US had also spent USD 8.3 billion to train the Afghan Forces. After capturing power on August 15 (2021), the Taliban seized this huge arsenal, along with 2,000 armoured vehicles, High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs or Humvees), fighter jets, helicopters, and ScanEagle drones. In Sir Winston Churchill’s words, “Stone Age people started using projectile weapons.

One should remember that a large part of these weapons requires maintenance on a regular basis, and specialised training is also required to use them. The Taliban fighters do not have that training, possibly. They have also a ready access to a number of M16 Assault Rifles, Mortars, Howitzers, Body Armours, Night Goggles, IED Explosives, and Ground Rockets. Apart from this huge arsenal, the outfit has also got an opportunity to use a Biometric Database, prepared by the Americans, and military bases used by the US troops. If the Taliban cannot use those, there is also a possibility of making a huge profit by selling the weapons to Iran, China, Russia and other terrorist organisations. Such a move will surely help them strengthen ties with the potential buyers.

Weapons left by the US Forces

Before sending troops to the South Asian nation way back in 2001, the White House announced that the main aim of the US was to rebuild Afghanistan. After two decades, the US Troops literally fled from the country. The US-backed Afghan Forces did not even try to fight back against the Taliban fighters. The question arises here is: Why did the US leave Afghanistan after investing a huge amount of money in that country? Is it possible that the American analysts, strategists, government advisers have failed to realise the fact that the Taliban are gaining strength?

To get a proper answer to this, one will have to have a look at History. From the 19th Century onwards, the original inhabitants of the Hindu Kush Mountains often used to create trouble for foreign invaders. Their courage had upset the then British Ruler of India. Although the imperialist British Ruler initially followed the Go Slow Policy, later it waged wars against the local Afghans to suppress their agitations. They occupied hilly provinces, one after another, and constructed roads and forts. The British Ruler also carried out development projects in the border region of Waziristan. However, all these efforts went in vain, as the Afghans, accustomed to the Rules of the Jungle, started facing difficulties in adopting this unaccustomed modern life-style! Naturally, they declared Jihad against the foreign power. Only one of the 16,000 British-Indian soldiers managed to return to India in 1842. Then, the Britons left Kabul.

The same thing happened with the former Soviet Forces. Unable to change the character of Afghanistan, the Soviet Union had withdrawn troops from the country in 1989. Some experts are of the opinion that the defeat of the Soviet Forces in Afghanistan played a key role in the collapse of the Soviet Union. In addition to the experience of Britain and the Soviet, the US also had its own experience of tasting defeat in the Vietnam War. Washington DC had to stop the decade-long military operation in the Southeast Asian country in 1973. The US wanted to form a Coalition Government in Vietnam. However, that weak administration actually paved the way for the US to leave Vietnam mainly to prevent US military intervention! The same scenario can be seen in today’s Kabul. The Taliban have prompted the US to leave Afghanistan. The spineless Government of ousted President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, like the Coalition Government in Vietnam, held talks with the Taliban. However, the ruination process had already started taking place!

Soviet Forces leaving Afghanistan, 1989

This scenario effectively brings us to the question about the goal that has been pursued by the US in this regard… was that to serve the People of Afghanistan?

The US wanted to defeat its enemy (al-Qaeda), apart from building a new Afghanistan in an attempt to improve its global image. This model had worked in the case of Germany or Japan, but not in the Third World. Vietnam and Afghanistan are fine examples of this. The US should have destroyed al-Qaeda, as well as the Taliban, before leaving Afghanistan. Unfortunately, the US followed Britain’s strategy to play war games with the Afghans. The Americans focused on building a nation that is run by the Warlords. The US strategy was bound to fail in a country with a History of huge Racial Diversity.

In fact, it seems that the US has always downplayed the Taliban’s stubbornness. Be it the Taliban in Afghanistan or the Leftists in Vietnam, none of them gave up their desire to seize Power until the last day. They were well aware of the fact that the US troops would have to be withdrawn from their countries, one day. Hence, it became a game of patience for them. On the contrary, the Afghan Forces did not have that zeal. They did not think of defending the country or fighting for President Ghani. The Ghani Administration, too, failed to convey that message to the Afghan Forces. Instead, the Government sunk into the darkness of corruption.

Afghan Forces fail to defend their country

It seems that the US has learnt nothing from the past. Excessive self-confidence and arrogance did not allow the US to learn a lesson from History. The Washington Post‘s Afghan Paper recently published an article, describing how the US has destroyed its prospects in the South Asian nation. Washington DC thought that money and technology would get the job done. However, everything has been hidden under the carpet, and the Global Community will suffer its consequences in the future!

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