Andrew Korybko |
The Taliban won the War in Afghanistan after nearly 20 years upon finally returning to power by mostly peaceful means on Sunday. The US overthrew their mostly unrecognized five-year-long government in 2001 as punishment for the group’s hosting of Al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It entered the country with noble anti-terrorist goals and should have stopped after it dismantled that network there, but quickly got caught up in “mission creep” and expanded its objective to include “nation-building”.
The US’ ruling neoconservative clique thought that it could impose the Western way of life upon the largely traditionalist Afghan people. They intended to use the country as a springboard for spreading regime changes throughout the interconnected Central Asian-South Asian region. In their mind, those similarly traditional cultures could perniciously be subverted through ideological infiltration from Afghanistan in order to eventually provoke Color Revolutions, perhaps even aided by US-backed militants relabeled as “freedom fighters”.
That grand strategic goal failed due to those nations’ resilience over the years but also to a great extent because the expanded objective of “nation-building” in Afghanistan also failed as well. That country is comprised of many tribes spread across several primary ethnic groups, the Pashtuns being the largest. Afghans have historically fought among themselves for centuries but always banded together to repel foreign invaders. The US attempted to divide and rule them by exploiting their preexisting identity differences but wasn’t successful.
The Taliban functioned as the core of the Afghan resistance movement to US-NATO occupation. Although it formerly had ties with foreign terrorist groups, it recent cut them off as part of the February 2020 peace deal with the US. Prior to that, the Taliban immensely improved its appeal among average Afghans by opposing their Western-backed government’s incorrigible corruption, criminal profiteering from the drug trade, and atrocious human rights violations. The latter consisted of countless extrajudicial killings carried out by airstrikes and special forces which often targeted civilians at weddings and even in their own homes, usually at night too.
The nation that America wanted to build in Afghanistan was one of corruption, drug addiction, and murder. It never truly cared about the Afghan people since its leadership wasn’t ever sincere about helping them improve their lives. The $2 trillion that was poured into the country over the course of nearly two decades didn’t result in much of anything other than enriching corrupt elites, their allies, and those Westerners who invested in the US’ powerful military-industrial complex. Afghanistan remained one of the least developed and most dangerous places on the planet despite being “democratic” and a bastion of “human rights” according to US rhetoric.
The Taliban had a different plan for its people. It learned from its past mistakes and committed to removing Afghanistan from international isolation if it ever returned to power. To do this, it cut its former ties with terrorists and began negotiating with regional countries, including China. Its representatives even visited the People’s Republic late last month to meet with Foreign Minister Wang Yi, during which time the Chinese Foreign Ministry reported that the group “hopes that China will be more involved in Afghanistan’s peace and reconciliation process and play a bigger role in future reconstruction and economic development.”
Unlike the US, China doesn’t engage in so-called “nation-building”. It has absolutely zero interest in exporting its way of life to others. The People’s Republic also doesn’t attach any political preconditions for economic ties. In fact, one can say that China supports the genuine concept of nation-building which is to respect every society’s sovereign choice to develop according to their traditions and the will of their people. Now that the Taliban has returned to power and discredited the US’ disastrous “nation-building” experiment, China can show the world the right way to help nations build themselves up through by empowering them with economic partnerships.
The lesson to be learned is that America will always fail whenever it tries to aggressively impose its will upon anyone else. It took almost two decades, but it was inevitable that the US would flee from Afghanistan in shame with its tail between its legs. Washington will never live down this self-inflicted humiliation brought about by its own counterproductive neoconservative policies. The whole world now realizes that the US has the opposite of the Midas touch since it destroys all those Global South nations that it invaded under the pretext of “nation-building”. For the sake of everyone else, hopefully it doesn’t repeat this mistake anymore.
Source: One World