Impacts of US war in Afghanistan
IN the history of the US military campaigning all over the world, Afghanistan has been the longest and the worst military engagement, it ever had in the post WW-II era.
Following the unfortunate incident of 9/11, US military deployment in Afghanistan remained for two decades (2001-2021).
The worst part of this longest war of United States in Afghanistan is that, it ended in failure, bringing shame to world’s most professional military out-fit equipped with most modern and sophisticated weapon system.
The damaging factor this war had for United States’ military might is that, it remained engaged with a non-state actor, the Afghan Taliban which neither had any formal military training nor the weapon system matching to US military.
As per Pentagon, over 90% US military personnel have left Afghanistan handing over all the seven military bases to Afghan national security forces by July 4, 2021.
This also included the “sprawling Bagram air base north of Kabul, the main centre of US military operations in the country for most of the past two decades of conflict.”
As per Afghan military commander General Mir Asadullah Kohistani, US left Bagram Base, in the dead dark hours without even notifying to Afghan military which speaks of the hast and fear, the US military had while being in Afghanistan.
Comparing US withdrawal from Afghanistan with that of Soviet withdrawal in 1989, there are many lessons for military historians and future powers, who wish to invade countries Afghanistan.
The most significant conclusions emerged from both withdrawals is that: both took place as a result of defeats to world’s top class militaries at the hands of non-state actors with humiliating strategic defeats? The defeat and strategic withdrawal of former Soviet military from Afghanistan resulted into disintegration of USSR, a year later.
Since the US was fully behind this defeat, therefore, it exploited the situation to its best strategic interests.
Now, the US defeat and withdrawal from Afghanistan is a test case, since neither China nor Russia apparently seems to be exploiting the situation to their best strategic interests.
Nevertheless, US lost the military deterrence over rest of international militaries, a status it assumed after WW-II and enjoyed for over seven decades.
Defeat of the military might of a super power (US) at the hands of Taliban (non-state actor) will have long-term implications for United States at the global level.
To quote from a recent speech of President Xi Jinping, on the eve of 100 years of CCP, he said, China will “get their heads bashed” if they attempt to bully or influence the country.
It was a clear message for the United States and its allies, who tried to bully China during G-7 meeting just a few weeks before in the United Kingdom. It was the first formal challenge to the West and indeed to the military might of United States.
President Xi further roared, “No one should underestimate the resolve, the will and ability of the Chinese people to defend their national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
The US conspiracies against China in South China Sea and Taiwan have been directly responded in this statement by President Xi.
In May/June 2020, China badly defeated the military might of India in East Ladakh and Galwan Valley where it captured over 3000 square kilometres area from Indian Army, a strategic partner of the US.
Indian political leadership and its mighty generals who were planning to fight two-front war are still hiding the Chinese military victory all along the LAC.
On 21 April 2021, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a very strong warning for its rivals; US and West.
In his annual state of the nation address he, warned US and the West “not to cross Russia’s red lines.”
He also warned the unholy western alliance that “Moscow will respond harshly to any foreign provocation.”
US and West have been engaging in Ukraine and other states of former Soviet Union to harm Russian strategic interests.
There is very serious implication for the US and its NATO allies after they collectively lost the war in Afghanistan. The pro-US Afghan leadership has turned against US and NATO.
During recent visit of President Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah to US, there were no promises for the security of Afghanistan from President Joe Biden. Indeed, it was desperate visit of Afghan leadership, they realized later.
Almost all Pro-US political leaders have decided not to Welcome United States again in their country.
The former Afghan President, Hamid Karazai said, “We will be better off without their military presence and we should defend our own country.
We don’t want to continue with this misery and indignity” U.S and NATO has brought for Afghanistan.
The protracted war in Afghanistan for two decades has brought embarrassments and strategic disadvantages for United States and NATO.
This could be imagined from the fact that no regional state was willing to provide military bases to US for the continuation of its counter-terror operations in the Post US-withdrawal Afghanistan.
The strategic impacts of US failed war in Afghanistan have embarked China into a new real time power politics and leadership role at the global level.
Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, China stands qualified to exploit the fading military might of United States.
Nevertheless, there is a need to debate and actualize the strategic cooperation between China and Russia with Pakistan as linchpin.
Restoration of peace in the post-US Afghanistan will be the first test case to prove their varsity at regional and global level to be the future global power centres.
— The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.