The Betrayal of the Afghan people: A lesson in History

6 mins read

THE grim news this morning, Sunday 15 August 2021, was that the Talibans have captured Kabul! There are now talks on the handover of power to the Talibans without incurring much bloodshed.

The US and many foreign countries are scrambling to extricate their citizens, and roads leading out of Kabul are choked with cars and people fleeing.

For now the Talibans are pledging not to harm anyone and are promising safe passage for those who want to leave Kabul.

There is panic everywhere as people are hoarding foods and are queuing to withdraw money from banks.

The president, Ashraf Ghani, has escaped to Tajikistan leaving the “country” leaderless while the Taliban is now sitting in the presidential palace.

A repeat of the Vietnam war is playing out right now. The US and their NATO allies have run away from an un-winnable war and plunged Afghanistan into a miserable future.

That says much of American reliability as an ally.

All the lives and billions of dollars spent for the past 20 years to prop up democracy in Afghanistan have gone down the drain.

A type of Islamic practices with the dreaded Sharia courts await Afghanistan. As a taste of things to come, female students in Herat are being prevented by the Taliban in attending lectures.

Nobody should be surprised if another 9/11 occurred again, a prevention, which was the lofty idea why the US and her NATO allies invaded Afghanistan 20 years ago.

To understand the aforementioned developments, it is instructive to revisit history.

On 25 December 1979 the former Soviet Union authorised its troops to invade Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.

It was the Soviet Union’s final foreign military intervention before its eventual dissolution on 26 December 1991.

The invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviets then was under the pretext of replacing the radical Hafizullah Amin with the Soviet-endorsed Babrak Karmal as head of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan.

By this action, the Soviets hoped to ease and accelerate Afghanistan’s communist revolution and protect the new regime from collapse as it was domestically unpopular.

But a detailed analysis also shows that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan included the need to check Western advancement into their southern borders through Afghanistan.

Remember this was at a time when communism was in decline in countries like Ethiopia and South Yemen.

On 15 February 1989, the Soviets pulled out of Afghanistan as they could no longer sustain the expense in men and materiel needed to wage the war thereby leaving the country mired in civil war.

During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the USA were actively involved in sabotaging the occupation by assisting the Taliban with weapons in their fights against the Soviets.

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Let’s fast forward to 11 September 2001, terrorists hijacked 4 planes in the US, two of the planes slammed into the World Trade Centre and not only destroyed the building but killed many people on the ground.

Another plane slammed into the Pentagon and yet a fourth was on its way to the White House but did not make it, it crashed in a field in Pennsylvania for reasons unknown though those inclined to Hollywood-hero folklore believe that there was a struggle between the hijackers and passengers onboard which resulted in the crash.


Whatever the cause, the total number of people that died including the terrorists was 2996.

Attention immediately focused on Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, the organisation which was in partnership with the Taliban then ruling Afghanistan, and to which  previously it had been declared a terrorist organisation.

On 7 December 2001 the USA and her allies invaded Afghanistan.

The main reason was to topple the Islamic and terrorist-leaning Taliban government who held power over roughly three-quarters of the country and, to destroy Al-Qaeda.

Initially the war was heartily supported given the mood after the 9/11 terrorists attack, and progress was made until news started to surface of how captured “terrorists” were being treated in Guantánamo Bay, and other detention centres, water boarding, sleep deprivations, etc.

These and the lies told to the world for reasons for invading Iraq on 19 March 2003 by the USA and a handful of her allies including Britain, quickly soured people’s enthusiasm and support for the war in Afghanistan.

Some of these lies included the famous presentation to the UK House of Commons to the effect that Saddam Hussein’s armoury of chemical weapons was on standby for use within 45 minutes.

The bogus document also included the fact that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD), including chemical weapons and biological weapons.

The dossier even alleged that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear weapons programme.

The USA’s then Secretary of State, Colin Powell, presented PowerPoint slides to the UN Security Council detailing packed trailers housing nuclear warheads and where these WMD were buried in the dessert. But the world was disgusted when it later turned out that it was all contrived lies!

The West were just looking for a UN blessing to invade  Iraq for a regime change and to get their hands on the Iraqi oil.

The USA and her allies had limited successes in Afghanistan, the Taliban/Al-Qaeda were removed from office and a “democratic” government installed, but that was all they could accomplish.

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The war dragged on up to date. The Soviets were castigated and made fun of by the West for not being able to defeat a ragtag army in Afghanistan despite their superior might.

Then it became the turn of the USA and her NATO allies to experience the same humiliating defeat.

Despite billions of dollars spent in fighting the war, propping up the Afghan government, the thousands of lives destroyed and the years spent in Afghanistan, the West failed to subdue the Taliban.

Fatigued by the long drawn-out war and waned interest at home, USA last year entered into a “peace” agreement with the Taliban and excluded the Afghan government in the discussions.

During the “peace” process, the safety and benefits of the Afghans were not considered, instead it was the concerns and benefits of the West that were addressed!

The Taliban agreed not to attack Western soldiers in exchange for the West pulling out of Afghanistan by 2021, but attacking the Afghan people by the Talibans was a fair game!

The speed with which the US and her NATO allies pulled out their troops had a devastating effect on the Afghan army numbering ca. four hundred thousand.

As at last week the Taliban had captured half the regions of Afghanistan and in most cases, the Afghan army just melted away, surrendering their weapons in exchange for their lives.

By last Sunday the world was shocked to learn that the Taliban is now in control of the capital city!

It is significant to note that after 20 years of occupation that the number one super power and her ally, NATO, a quasi (seemingly but not really a) super power, with all their superior military might could not defeat a ragtag army!

No matter how the West framed their humiliating defeat, it was a crushing defeat and their hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan is reminiscent of another crushing defeat and hasty withdrawal by the USA in Vietnam on 30 April 1975! And just as in Vietnam, there is nothing positive to show for the military adventurism as the Taliban just like the communist North Vietnamese, will takeover from where they were 20 years ago in Afghanistan.

The lesson learnt here is that you do not have to trade bodyblows with an enemy way above your bodyweight; you employ a hit-and-run tactics and let your opponent chase you all over the ring, expending his energy in the process until he is tired, and then you knock him out.

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In the case of the Taliban, they used the Afghanistan natural defences: ranges of mountains interlaced with caves, they have no infrastructure worth mentioning for the US and NATO to destroy, above all they have that intrinsic determination for their cause and ideology, enough to die for them in suicidal missions of which the Western forces had no answer for – a textbook copy from the tactic developed by the Communist North Vietnamese.

This is a humbling lesson and reinforces the fact that might is no longer a requirement for victory in wars.

To borrow a phrase from the Bible, “How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!”

The US is never good in nation-building, but is more of a demolition officer than a builder, see evidences of that in Iraq, Libya and Syria.

All the progress made in educating girls and religious freedom are being reversed, ditto democratic rule.

The promises made by the West to the Afghan people to protect them against the Taliban/Al-Qaeda are in tatters as nobody cares about their welfare.

The welfare of the West supersedes that of the Afghans. That’s another lesson. The lesson for the Afghans and for the rest of the world is that never ever, ever entrust your security to outsiders or else when push turns to shove, they will leave you in the lurch.

Even when such security arrangements are for both countries’ mutual benefits, always have a plan B to secure your country!

Cry Afghanistan, cry!

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Dr Gabriel Uguru
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