The World Fails Afghanistan

Image source: CTV News

Afghanistan has had a long and troubled history of domination by foreign conquerors. It has managed to survive through various strifes among internally warring tribes and clans over centuries now. Afghanistan has witnessed many conquerors, from Darius I of Babylonia around 500 B.C. to Alexander the Great of Macedonia around 329 B.C., among others.  Mahmud of Ghazni took control of it in the 11th Century A.D., and is to date, considered one of the greatest conquerors of Afghanistan. Genghis Khan controlled the region around the thirteenth century. However, it was not until the nineteenth century that Afghanistan emerged as a unified nation. By the 1870s, Afghanistan had been invaded by many Arab raiders, and gradually Islam became rooted in the region. The 19th Century saw the Great Game being played in Afghanistan- the British trying frantically to protect British India from a possible Tsarist carnage. 

Afghanistan was embroiled in three bitter wars with the British: 1838-42, 1878-80 and 1919-1921. The results were mixed: An Afghan victory in the first, a humiliating defeat in the second, and restoration of sovereignty in the third. Nonetheless, the net result was that the British had been successfully defeated. From 1921 to 1973, Afghanistan was a monarchy. At the height of the Cold War, the USSR was successful in tilting Afghanistan to the Soviet bloc. By 1978, Afghanistan was firmly under the firm hands of the Soviets from 1979 right up to 1989. This was also a period of violent Islamic guerrilla attacks by the Mujahadeen, backed by the USA, Britain< China, Iran and Pakistan. The Mujahadeen would take control of Afghanistan for a brief period from 1991-1996. From 1995 onwards, the Taliban rose to power in Afghanistan, and would rule until 2001,

Image source: The Indian Express

In 1998 meanwhile, two American embassies were bombed in Tanzania and Kenya. Then in 2001, the Twin Towers were bombed by Al-Qaeda, another militant organisation sprouting up during the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. The emergence of al Qaeda around this time led to some scholars labelling it a “monumental miscalculation by the West”.  Many scholars have opined just the opposite, calling such a proposition a “folk myth”. Nonetheless, the fact of the matter remains that al Qaeda stung the USA, and stung them hard. The US Government went on a global rampage under Operation Enduring Freedom, which would go on until 2014. Though the Operation ended after 13 years, two months and three weeks, the Conflict has lingered on.

The preparation for deserting Afghanistan began the day Obama started to plan for an Afghan pull-out way back in 2014. Mr Trump ensured that such a plan was executed to a great extent. And Biden, perhaps shackled by his days as the Vice President under Obama, was left with no other option but to continue from where Trump left off.  Thus, it would be unjust to blame only Obama, only Trump, or only Biden for the mess that America finds itself today. Successive US Presidents are equally responsible for this mess in Afghanistan.

In retrospect thus, It may not be wrong to conclude that the world failed Afghanistan the most during and after the cold war, using it to suit their own geostrategic interests. Had the Soviets not intervened in Afghanistan perhaps there would have been no compelling need for the USA to intervene. What may be stopping the world from intervening in Afghanistan one final time when the Afghans need it the most may well be all the losses of the past.  Also, the thought that the West will have to undo their creations in Afghanistan might well be holding them back- and this is how the world has failed Afghanistan. For all the belligerents in the Afghan conundrum, there seems to be little responsibility to clean up. Shoot and scoot, perhaps, is the new norm. 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team

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Siddharth Khatri

Siddharth Khatri is a PhD Scholar at the Centre for Russian and Central Asian Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

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