0814 GMT September 18, 2021
Time magazine had called the US war in Afghanistan "America's forever war". Mahmood Sariolghalam says that “the Joe Biden government outsourced Afghanistan to Pakistan so that it could get rid of its military and political expenditures with the capitals of Arab countries and perhaps China. He believes that probably if the leading causes for the US entry into Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003 could be briefly expressed up to 80%, one can raise it in this way: the incredibly complex base of the US oil, gas, energy and arms network with the George W. Bush administration, particularly with his vice president, Dick Cheney”.
From the point of view of Daniel Bessner, “it seems the only people who ‘benefited’ from the US invasion of Afghanistan have been private military contractors, heroin dealers, and people associated with various powerful factions of the US-backed Afghan government over the years”.
Sariolghalam points out that “it is worth bearing in mind that a noticeable percentage of the nearly two and a half-trillion dollars spent in Afghanistan and Iraq has returned to the United States. Thousands of contractors have constructed the required equipment and provided it to the military and civilian forces. Hundreds of projects were outsourced to US companies”.
Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, the foreign affairs minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, stated in his book "Sobh-e Sham" (The Morning of Syria) that “unlike what some people think, the reality is not that the Americans, as a superpower, take all aspects into account and be able to implement it. Their behavior is not always intelligent. My understanding of what I have experienced in the Middle East and its matters is that Americans go down on paper very well, they are excellent in the planning stage, they do their best in work division and in the sphere of theory; however, all of these items find value when they can employ the plans in practice.
This dilemma exists at all their levels. Everything is excellent on paper, but their weakness on the ground is in the items that must run the designed plan. While executing their programs in the region, Americans usually encounter two problems. The first concern of them in all scenes of the conflict (action) is that they are fearful of being killed. The second problem that Americans are faced with is that they essentially have no knowledge of the region” (p. 143).
1) The US weaknesses in implementation of its plan
Former US president Barack Obama in his book "The Promised Land" writes “if only the decision on Afghanistan was a matter of resolve, I thought — just will and steel and fire. That had been true for Lincoln as he tried to save the Union and for FDR after Pearl Harbor, with America and the world facing a mortal threat from expansionist powers. In such circumstances, you harnessed all you had to mount a total war. But in the here and now, the threats we faced — deadly but stateless terrorist networks; otherwise feeble rogue nations out to get weapons of mass destruction — were real but not existential, and so resolve without foresight was worse than useless. It led us to fight the wrong wars and careen down rabbit holes. It made us administrators of inhospitable terrain and bred more enemies than we killed” (p. 441).
Obama continues that “Unlike Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the Taliban was too deeply woven into the fabric of Afghan society to be eradicated — and that despite their sympathies toward Al-Qaeda, they showed no signs of plotting attacks outside Afghanistan against the United States or its allies” (p. 440).
Stephen M. Walt is right in saying that “the proper lesson is not that the United States ought to fight more stupid wars for the sake of so-called credibility but that it needs to start holding those responsible for these repeated errors accountable and try to figure out why they keep making the same mistakes”.
2) The US weaknesses in lacking the knowledge of region
Daniel Bessner wants to emphasize the speed of the collapse. He thinks “you’ll hear in the coming days and weeks a lot of comparisons to Vietnam. But the South Vietnamese government fell after about two years. The incredibly rapid collapse in Afghanistan just underlines the ridiculousness of the entire nation-building project that the United States claimed to have embarked upon after the invasion and occupation. The best one could hope for is that this is the final nail in the coffin of the entire nation-building idea”.
Daron Acemoğlu states that “perhaps things could have turned out differently if Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency had not supported the Taliban when it was militarily defeated, if NATO drone attacks had not further alienated the population, and if US-backed Afghan elites had not been extravagantly corrupt. But the cards were stacked against America’s state-first strategy”.
Obama in his book "The Promised Land" suggests that “Iraq and Afghanistan offered stark lessons in how quickly a president’s options narrowed once a war had begun. I was determined to shift a certain mindset that had gripped not just the Bush administration but much of Washington — one that saw threats around every corner, took a perverse pride in acting unilaterally, and considered military action as an almost routine means of addressing foreign policy challenges.
In our interactions with other nations, we had become obdurate and shortsighted, resistant to the hard, slow work of building coalitions and consensus. We’d closed ourselves off from other points of view. I believed that America’s security depended on strengthening our alliances and international institutions. I saw military action as a tool of last, not first, resort” (p. 450).
The pattern of US aggression and retreat from Vietnam earlier, from Afghanistan most recently and from Iraq soon, recalls us the advice of the French economist and politician, Frédéric Bastiat, where he says “…and, now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun…”; but alas, as Antonio Gramsci says “history teaches, but it has no pupils”.
*Farshid Farahnakian is an Iranian attorney at law who holds a Ph.D. in oil and gas law.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Iran Daily’s viewpoints and editorial policies.