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The American Retreat From Afghanistan: Are the Americans Born Losers?

An senior air warrior and political observer who has the pulse of the region and can sense a change when it comes.


Back ground

America entered Afghanistan just after the attack of 9/11 with the ostensible purpose of throwing out the Taliban which was then ruling Afghanistan. The purpose was to avenge the terror attack of 9/11. Two decades down the line, American achievement has been zero. This is no reflection on the American army but the political leadership and policies followed by the last 6 presidents.

First entry and creation of Taliban

Even before this engagement the Americans were involved in Afghanistan and propping up the Taliban. This is a fact of history and it is a well-known fact that the Taliban was the creation of the CIA and the United States. In case you have an older version of one of the films of Rambo, it will show a clip which states 'dedicated to our brave friends the mujahedin', or words to that effect. Subsequently, after 9/11 this was removed.

During this period, the Americans had a one-point plan to defeat the Russians and they were not really bothered about the means to execute the same. The only thing they wanted was the defeat of Soviet Russia and they were prepared to support Islamic extremism. The moment Russians were defeated, they withdrew from Afghanistan, and a civil war commenced.

The creation of the Americans, the Taliban formed the government and let loose a reign of terror with killings and brutal repression of women and minorities.

Throwing Taliban out

America suddenly woke up when they realized that the Taliban considered America to be the great satan and Osama bin Laden organized 9/11. More than 2400 Americans died and George Bush committed to ousting the Taliban from Afghanistan. The American army went into battle against the Taliban but all the leaders took shelter in Pakistan. This was known to the American military and the CIA yet for some reason strange reason, Pakistan was treated with kid gloves and the same mistake which was committed in Viet Nam was repeated in Afghanistan.

Faulty strategy

In other words, the safe havens of the Taliban in Pakistan were not touched and the entire Taliban leadership housed in Pakistan. The presidents and their advisers at that time were not prepared to take action against Pakistan because of fond memories that Pakistan was an ally since 1954. This just about showed the complete bankruptcy in American political and military thinking.

The war in Afghanistan dragged on for 20 years and the Americans were fighting with one arm tied behind their back and they suffered more than 3000 dead. The Commanders knew they were not going to win because the 'sanctuaries' in Pakistan were not touched. Pakistan also played a double game and began to support one faction of the Taliban, called Haqqani fiction which killed many American soldiers.

By the time Donald Trump took over as president, the battle in Afghanistan had been lost but it is to the credit of Donald Trump that he realized the perfidy of Pakistan and in tweets he pointed out that Pakistan was an unreliable ally and should never have been trusted.


The retreat

In any war, you need a strategy. The Indian army fought the Naga and Mizo insurgents in the Northeast for 30 years and ultimately beat them. Similarly, supported terrorism in Kashmir was continuing for the last 30 years. Finally, the Indian army got a grip and Kashmir is integrated with India. The United States never had a long-term policy and they were looking for quick solutions. The will to track down and give battle was not there and no strategic concept of how to fight in Afghanistan was developed. Demoralization set in the American army and finally the top commanders conveyed to the president they could not win the war and they also mentioned that this was because for two decades the safe havens of the Taliban had been left untouched.

Donald Trump decided to withdraw from Afghanistan and Joe Biden followed suit. The sad part of all this was that the Americans began to talk to the Taliban who they had referred to as a terrorist organization for almost 25 years. The complete bankruptcy of American political thought was revealed. History will note that the Americans to extricate themselves from Afghanistan handed over the state to the Taliban; another word for sleeping with the enemy?

How chaotic the retreat has been can be seen from the fact that the main American airbase in Afghanistan Bagram was vacated inside two hours and no information was given to the Afghan government. As the Americans left, the local people entered and looted the base and the items were being sold outside in the pawnshops. The government came to know that the base had been vacated after 2 hours and they sent in the troops.

In my last visit to China, I read a few Chinese newspapers in English and the editorials clearly pointed out that the Americans are good losers. They cannot win a single war and they do not have the intent and stomach for a prolonged conflict. The Chinese also feel that in case the Americans can just forget about Afghanistan and the government and hand over the country to the Taliban, they could do the same thing to Taiwan. The message that is going around is that America cannot be relied on to support its allies. President Duterte of the Philippines has drawn the right lessons and does not wish to antagonize China.

The American retreat has led to the Taliban mounting attacks all over the country and as per the latest reports they are gaining ground and maybe as per the American think tank, another 3 to 4 months and they may take over Afghanistan.

The problem is deep-rooted because it is not only the Taliban that is in a rampaging mood but very soon you will watch, that ISIS will also make a reappearance. America's influence in the arc from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq has become zero.

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In any war they there will be defeats and retreats but some defeats are because of a wrong strategy. The Americans are guilty of fighting the war without a strategy and trying to be too clever and goody-goody. The American army was fighting with one arm tied behind its back, as their ally Pakistan was playing a double game. Donald Trump is the only man who saw through this game but then there was nothing he could do, as he had realized that the war could never be won and after 16 years of fighting, it was not possible to change the course or direction.

In many of the countries in the Middle East, Taiwan, and Japan, the general opinion is that the Americans after losing in Vietnam and Afghanistan and letting the two nations go to dogs cannot be relied on. No wonder the Philippines President Duterte had made it very clear that he is not going to antagonize China.

Re-percussions of the American defeat are going to have far-reaching effects which will be much more disastrous than the defeat in Vietnam for the simple reason that the two countries had a different social-religious base. Unlike Vietnam, the battle in Afghanistan is religious, where the main thrust of the Taliban is based on the Islamic religion. The Taliban have used the word Jihad for the war with the Americans.

After this retreat from Afghanistan, there are many people feeling that America is not the country that will stand by them in case there is a dire need. We all know there will never be a nuclear exchange because of MAD but conventional wars on the smaller scale will continue and America does not have the stomach to fight such wars.

Last word

This is going to be Armageddon the battle between good and evil but who is good and who is evil depends on perception. The Taliban feel they are the good and the American the evil while the Americans do not feel that way.

As things stand, I don't think the American power and domination will last even seven or eight years and maybe in our time we will see the complete eclipse of American power. Much of the blame for it I think lies with the American people. Some people keep on discussing that Donald Trump is a terrorist. When I hear this I could die laughing on a bed of nails at this type of discussion. This shows the surrealistic atmosphere all over America. Bahadur Shah, the son of Aurangzeb presided over the liquidation of the Mogul Empire; I'm afraid Joe Biden is going to do an encore.


MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on July 10, 2021:

Thanks Ashutosh, India will be badly affected. The battle has started with Taliban attacking an Indian built dam. Timidly of Indian approach is the reason for it. Trump wanted boots on the ground but India did not agree, now pay the price.

Ashutosh Joshi from New Delhi, India on July 10, 2021:

For us as almost next door neighbours, all I see is trouble mounting in the subcontinent. Not that I would have liked the Americans to stay but unfortunately these toxic gmos that they have sown now need their exclusive nurturing.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on July 09, 2021:

Chriss, Thank you for your comment. I feel sorry that the US army lost in Vietnam and now Afghanistan because they are a first-class fighting machine. They were let down by the political leaders who had no strategy. Vietnam should have been won but all this is history now.

CHRIS57 from Northern Germany on July 09, 2021:

emge, compliments, a very good article on the problems of Afghanistan and of the USA.

When i think of Afghanistan, i remember the book by James Michener: Caravans. The story takes us to Afghanistan some time in the early fifties and describes the chaotic art of life in the country. Me think everyone from the British Empire (of course that was way before the book), the Soviet Union and the USA should have read this entertaining little book to keep fingers off this part of our planet. Way too cumbersome and not worth while in any geopolitic scenario.

So with Afghanistan the USA is in good company with other historic empires who failed bitterly.

The same as the US, former Soviet Union also had no real plan, no real strategy why they should invade. Invading Afghanistan did not follow the Brezhnev doctrin, it was a mere power play in the wake of the Nato double track decision.

When i have an argument with my wife and i only say "No", i loose. It is no strategy to just oppose something, someone. This is only instinctive reaction and not self induced action. The USA never had a strategic clue in any of their global hot wars. Mostly it was only saying "no" to the cold war opponent. If the USA tries it with my wife - it will not be a good idea :-)

emge, your article is spot on.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on July 08, 2021:

Kanwal Yousafzai, nice reading your comment. I have been to Pakistan a couple of times, people were very friendly with me.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on July 08, 2021:

Thank you Kyler, your comment is most welcome. I agree its complex situation compounded by the rise of China; how good their conscripted army is can only be seen when they go in combat. We have to wait and see. Limited wars will continue but the danger of iSIS coming back is real.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on July 08, 2021:

Dear Mr. Happy, it was sa pleasure to read your comment. Thanks for mentioning the figures of killed, it was general statement but needs correction. Your argument is very valid and I can't disagree with it. I have trained with the USAF and have many friends, but many are not in agreement with Biden. Empires come and go but some like the Ottoman Empire ( lasted 600 years) and the Mogul( 300 years), the British empire was around for 200 years but the American appears to have crashed pretty fast. There is still a chance that something will happen as the US generals may have a rabbit up their sleeve. Thanks again.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on July 08, 2021:

Kyler, Thank you for sparing time and commenting. I agree America has a number of bases in the region and there is supposed to be the Quad to contain China of which India is a member. But at Staff College, I remember reading the statement by General G Marshal, that you need the infantry soldier to hold the ground and that is where the shoe will pinch. Without boots on the ground, no amount of bases and military contractors can defeat the Taliban. Thank you again.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on July 08, 2021:

Val Karas , I thank you for your valued comments. You have raised interesting question, more on the philosophical level of Imperialism and domination by one nation over others. It is an interesting view point. From the way you have raised points on Vietnam and other places, one can't argue with them. But that is the law of history and its been the same from the days of Ottoman and British empire. America has retreated from Afghanistan, but there is a good chance they will try something else and we have to wait and watch.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on July 08, 2021:

Bill, thanks for commenting. Korea was the first case of indecisive leadership and the war went on for 3 years leading to a stalemate. I am a believer in astrology and I do feel Biden may be incapacitated in 2023 and if Kamla Harris is president; the thought frightens me.

Kyler J Falk from California on July 08, 2021:

"Afghanistan is not a place to look for war. The Ghurid Empire lost a battle in 1191. In the first Anglo-Afghan War (1839–1842), the British withdrew. In the 80s the Russians withdrew after their failed adventure. So, if I were a military leader I would learn from the past. Not many do though it seems."

Though the examples are far too broad, too cryptic to point to, they are abundant and I'd like to point out that oppressing a nation into hating you, creating problems and then leaving, often sets up the opportunity for you to return and solve the issues you created. Every great nation in this world, as far back as the Byzantines, has used this tactic over and over again to great effect. I'd keep an eye on trade agreements that arise from these decisions, and even further sit on our hands so as to watch a region tear itself apart so that, "saviors," can move in and come to power.

This is a very complex situation with so many perspectives, but it feels like people are seeing peace in withdrawal when there will only be further, harsher conflict.

Kanwal Khan Yousafzai from Pakistan on July 08, 2021:

I agree with you Valkaras, i truly respect neutral realistic one. At least say what you see with own eyes and then analyze who is right or wrong.

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on July 08, 2021:

"This was known to the American military and the CIA yet for some reason strange reason, Pakistan was treated with kid gloves" - Not for "some reason". Musharraf was supposedly allied with the US. The military aid from the US to Pakistan was and is, significant. Also, Pakistan is a NUCLEAR nation. The US gov't does not want to push the Pakistani gov't away from its area of influence so, it cannot go invade Pakistan to clear-out the Taliban leaders. Even their intrusion into Pakistani air-space when they killed Bin Laden was a big problem for both gov'ts. "The truth is rarely pure and never simple" - Oscar Wilde.

"Americans were fighting with one arm tied behind their back and they suffered more than 3000 dead" - Curious where this statistic came from. I am seeing roughly 2,400 killed.

"The will to track down and give battle was not there" - It is always the case that an invading army has less will to fight than an army defending its home. Those defending their home have nowhere to go so, they fight to death. Those invading can always go back home so, they do not have the same will to fight.

Afghanistan is not a place to look for war. The Ghurid Empire lost a battle in 1191. In the first Anglo-Afghan War (1839–1842), the British withdrew. In the 80s the Russians withdrew after their failed adventure. So, if I were a military leader I would learn from the past. Not many do though it seems.

"They cannot win a single war" - A First Nations Elder once said: "There are no winners in wars. There are only survivors." Now, do we need another Hiroshima, or Nagasaki to make the Chinese newspapers happy with a "win"?

On top of which, this is not about winning anyway. It's about maintaining chaos, selling armament and keeping-up the investment in the American war-machine. It's profitable. Who cares if commoners die killing each other? The likes of Blackwater make a lot of money out of all this. It's not about winning.

"who is good and who is evil depends on perception" - You are so very right here. We have to always remember that one man's "freedom fighter" is for another, a "terrorist".

"Bahadur Shah, the son of Aurangzeb presided over the liquidation of the Mogul Empire; I'm afraid Joe Biden is going to do an encore" - All Empires die amigo. My people fought-off the Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire ... they all die at some point. They grow too big for their own good and then, they fizzle out. I do wish people understand that Empires only bring misery and chaos in the long term.

Kyler J Falk from California on July 08, 2021:

I'm not sure how to feel about all this news concerning the, "retreat," from Afghanistan, because I know we still have multiple bases in the region, thousands of troops, and even more private contractors there. It almost feels like the image of America is being undermined purposefully, an, "inside job," if you will, and I agree with your sentiments on Biden, but would give Trump much of the credit as well. It'll be interesting to see how things play out in the long-term, especially once everything we are leaving behind is being used against civilians like we've seen over and over again in the past.

No matter what, though, the private contracts in Afghanistan will keep pouring in for American retirees, and we will never not be wetting our beak with Afghani conflict. I'd also use the phrase, "history always repeats itself," as it concerns pulling out of a territory occupied by our friends-turned-enemies. Perhaps this show Trump started and Biden is attempting to conclude is simply a way to placate the anti-war majority, because everyone I talk to is ignorant of how many bases, operations, and contractors we actually have in Afghanistan lmao!

A decent article, MG, if not a bit too idealistic about India as always. Who can blame you, though? We all love our countries.

ValKaras on July 08, 2021:

I think the question shouldn't be "how strong are we really?" -- but "how justified" are we to use the force? For, if the answer is "we do it because we can", then any rational discussion is futile, because we are facing the logic of a bully.

Thus, the question goes deeper, and it even touches the concept of imperialism, when some countries just saw it as their "God-given" right to occupy, kill, steal, exploit, and enslave.

As for the silly ambition of acting as a "world leader", the global community never "elected" America for that position -- and in a free world leaders get elected, not self-imposed.

So, back to imperialism, spreading our influence around the world by coercing, blackmailing, bribing, threatening, dictating -- and bombing whom we choose -- with questionable moral justification -- just looks like a version of that imperialism. Some even call it "neo-imperialism", and that's what it boils down to when "our national interests" become a global law..

America had no business in Vietnam, it was not a self-defensive war, but a political one, and so is much of its military involvement in the Middle East. The eternal question remains:

What gives any country moral right to meddle in other nations' lives, their religions, traditions, their own choices, And on the face value of the issue -- really, if America can have their nukes, why wouldn't any other country? Who decides, and who has the ultimate authority on this planet?

American people are wonderful folks, but their government's foreign politics simply sucks -- if there is any morality left in this world. If not. let us all start sticking our noses into what our neighbors cook and believe, and if we don't like it -- let's beat the crap out of them. JUST BECAUSE WE CAN.,

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 08, 2021:

Painful for some Americans to read, but probably closer to the truth than not. We have a recent history, dating back to Korea, of engaging in conflict without a sound strategy, as though we believe the might of the U.S. military is all it takes to be victorious.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on July 08, 2021:

Vanita, thank you for commenting.

Vanita Thakkar on July 08, 2021:

Very informative. I agree with John. Let us wait and see what happens, hoping and wishing for the best - humane and non-violent outcomes ....

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on July 08, 2021:

Thank you,John, yes, our job is to just wait and watch

John Hansen from Australia (Gondwana Land) on July 07, 2021:

An interesting read, MG. There is not much we can do but wait and see what the future holds I guess. It seems history doesn’t teach the lessons it should.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on July 07, 2021:

Dear Col, you have raised very interesting points but these are well known all over the world. But it is not just a defeat in Afghanistan but the culmination of continuous defeats for the last 75 years and many people, even Israel is very apprehensive of what is going to happen in the future.

Lt Col Parduman Singh on July 07, 2021:

This is a very interesting article on the American defeat in Afghanistan. As a soldier, I can say when you fight a war fight it is with a strategy and the Americans never had a strategy in Afghanistan. Just like in Vietnam here also the army was not given a free hand and the sanctuary across the border were left untouched for two decades. The result is a complete route. The Americans will leave behind a mess, a civil war and one hopes the world will stand with the Afghans. The result could be frightening, the return of obscurantist policies and women and minorities as third class citizens. Worse it could mark the return of Islamic extremism in full force.

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