The war of Afghanistan has gone on for 20 years, and has cost us hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of dead, both our soldiers and Afghan civilians. Despite all this, after we withdrew troops, the Taliban has taken over, to the surprise only of those of us who have not paid attention.
Back in May this year, Professor Noam Chomsky made an argument regarding the war that had not rarely been heard; that we should withdraw out troops in a manner decided by the Afghan people. He predicted that a blunt withdrawal, would lead to the Taliban taking over immediately, and his predictions were accurate.
Looking back, we should never have invaded Afghanistan in the first place. Every argument for us doing so has been utterly dismantled, and what we have seen has been a constant moving of the goalpost, meaning that the definition of victory has always been kept in the horizon. Nonetheless, admitting to the wrongfulness of the invasion doesn’t erase its effects on the Afghan people, and after two decades of destruction, we absolutely owe it to the Afghan people, to at the very least withdraw in a manner conducive their well being, and not just our own financial concerns.
And while the Taliban is undoubtedly a terrible force, yet we must see that the actions of our own governments have played a similarly destructive role in this war.
Going back to the last years of the cold war, as a response to Soviet support of the Afghan government at the time, the US supported fundamentalist extremists in order to create a counter-force. I call these groups extremists both because of their acid attacks on women dressing freely, but also because they literally became the groups we would fight only a decade later. Osama Bin Laden himself received training from the CIA, and groups supported by the US, like The Mujahideen, became a key enemy in the current war.
Our proxy-warfare, meaning our attempts to direct warfare in the Middle-east, has been an essential part of the problems we see now.
There is an argument that the Afghan government and military have failed the people, but anyone paying attention can’t pretend to be surprised at this in any way. “The Afghanistan Papers” of 2019 reveal that several hundreds of US officials and military insiders all reported the terrible state of the Afghan forces and how the training of them wars mostly futile.
While we can’t eliminate blame of the Afghan soldiers, we do have to recognise their perspective: An invading force which has destroyed their country for decades, now wants to train them to fight people they may even partially agree with.
Not exactly a recipe for strong morale.
Nonetheless, the key factor is that we knew. We knew they would crumble under a hasty withdrawal, and we did it anyways.
Thus, it is irresponsible to merely blame the Taliban for what we are now seeing, without acknowledging our own governments’ role in the matter.
This invasion and war has cost us enormous amounts of money, which has essentially been an endless harvest for the war-industrial complex, which has been able to sell their weapons in payment of tax-money, as long as war has gone on.
And war is always going on, as the war-industrial complex, (huge corporations creating weaponry), continuously influence governments to continue conducting warfare.
Now, hundreds of thousands of civilians have died or been displaced over the years, and are seemingly now facing the worst outcome yet.
Thousands of young men and women of the military have died in our service.
And after all this sacrifice, the Taliban took it over the whole country in no time.
The only parties who have won, are fundamentalist extremists groups and the western war-industrial complex.
Trying to comprehend the full scope of this travesty can be challenging, as it means accepting the fact that our governments have acted in a manner so malicious, irresponsible, and cruel, that it strips them of any legitimacy.
Even now, as the Afghan people attempt to flee the country, we hear many cries of feigned sorrow regarding the situation, yet stunningly little effort.
Horrific scenes of people clinging to embarking airplanes or attempting to hand their children over show that western governments are failing to help their evacuation. Even worse, the EU has already strengthened its border security in Greece, in expectation of Afghan refugees, with the extension of border walls.
Sympathy for the Afghan people is not enough. We need to take actual responsibility, and for most of us that means being willing to recognise our own governments culpability in this for-profit warfare.
If we truly care about the people who are now suffering horrifically, we need to address what is at the root cause of the problem; The war-industrial complex, which makes its enormous profits from keeping wars going, at the expense of us all.
We have to be willing to see reality, and however uncomfortable it may be to have our world-view shaken, I promise you that it is not nearly as bad as what thousands of Afghan people are experiencing right now.
If we don’t, business will continue as usual, and nothing will fundamentally change.
We need to go beyond simply blaming the Taliban. They are undoubtedly horrible, yet it is our own governments that have enabled them, and who continue to commit similar acts all over the world.
Silence, passivity, and apathy, all amount to consent for what we are now seeing.