Only the Americans stand defeated | By Prof Shazia A Cheema

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Only the Americans stand defeated


THE Economist reports that the war in Afghanistan is ending in a crushing defeat for the United States and the consequences of the conflict are getting worse.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, while addressing a ceremony in China-run Gwadar Port, stated that the United States is confused about its withdrawal from Afghanistan.

If we read his statement from a historic perspective, he is absolutely right in saying “Absolutely Not” because in several instances, the US announced a drawdown but many drawdowns were followed by sending extra forces in Afghanistan.

The former President Donald Trump announced the complete withdrawal by Ist May 2021, but new President Joe Biden changed the date to 11 September 2021- the 20th anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan.

Then the US announced that it will keep 650 troops in Afghanistan for the security of US-allied diplomats.

The US accelerated withdrawal well before September 11 and Bagram Airbase that is and was a symbol of US power over Afghanistan was vacated unceremoniously.

Taliban have refused to accept the presence of 650 troops before 11 September saying that these troops would be considered invaders and enemies on Afghan soil and the Taliban would deal with them as enemies.

Does the US want to keep the Afghan issue confused and wishes to leave with a justification to attack again if its 650 soldiers are harmed in the future? Actually, there is confusion everywhere in Afghanistan.

The Afghan government is confused about its future. The United States is confused about leaving Afghanistan without getting a base in the region. In the past, the US had a base in Pakistan and also in Kyrgyzstan.

Manas Airbase near Bishkek was handed over to US forces in December 2001 to support its military operations in the ongoing war in Afghanistan and the US had to leave this base on 3 June 2014 when Kyrgyzstan did not allow extension for this base.

Reports coming from Central Asia indicate that the US military is trying to get a base in Tajikistan or Uzbekistan because Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan is deadly against offering a base to US military.

Therefore, the US is facing a situation where it has to leave but it does not want to leave. It was its presence and maybe a justification to come back again.

Will China and Russia allow US-allied forces back in Kabul? It is too early to comment. Confusion is also spread among US war veterans.

They do not know why they were sent and why now troops are leaving Bagram without ceremony?

Robert Couture, who is the spokesperson for the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), recently said that the issue of withdrawal was complicated for many veterans.

The conflict has cost thousands of American and Afghan lives and seen tens of thousands of American men and women cycle through the combat zone and emerge as veterans.

It is a conflict that has gone on for so long that some early veterans found their own children deployed in the same war.

As we witness, thousands of soldiers of the Afghan National Army are surrendering to the Taliban as expected and the Taliban are offering them protection after receiving US weapons from them. This situation reminds me of the golden words of North Vietnamese Colonel Bui Tin.

When South Vietnamese soldiers surrendered to him on 30 April 1975, he assured them protection and stated that they (South Vietnamese soldiers) should have nothing to fear because all Vietnamese are brothers and there are no victors and no vanquished among them. He concluded that “Only the Americans have been defeated.”

—The writer is an analyst writing for national and international media outlets.

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