Lessons from the Afghanistan disaster

2 min
Evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan

BarcelonaThe international community, and especially the West, must learn many lessons from the disaster in Afghanistan if it does not want to repeat the same mistakes in the future. The main one is that although a country, in this case the United States, has the right to abandon an international intervention if it considers that it has already complied or does not want any more casualties, this cannot be done in any way, because then the costs may be higher than the gains that are sought with the withdrawal.

In the case of Afghanistan, it should be remembered that the origin of the withdrawal is Donald Trump's negotiations in Qatar with the Taliban behind the back of the Afghan government that he himself sponsored. How can one go from capturing Taliban to take them to Guantanamo to negotiating with them to hand over the country? Trump's haste to get out of that hornet's nest made him sign an agreement at any price (it included the release of 5,000 militiamen) which the Taliban interpreted, logically, as a gesture of weakness.

For his part, President Biden, who already clashed with Obama as vice-president because he was against continuing the mission, did not make amends to Trump's mistakes and has designed a catastrophic withdrawal for his Afghan allies. The message being sent to the world is terrible: do not trust the West because they will abandon you to your fate at the slightest opportunity.

It should be borne in mind that if there is no large-scale repression in Afghanistan against those whom the Taliban consider to be collaborationists and traitors, it will be because it is not in their interest, not because they cannot carry it out. The Taliban, as you can see these days at the airport, have the upper hand on the ground. And they will only make the right concessions so that their regime is not endangered again.

Another important lesson is that, in international politics, when someone leaves a position of power, it is quickly taken over by someone else. In this case we see how Russia and China, and even Iran, Pakistan and Turkey, are stepping in to fill the vacuum left by Americans and Europeans.

Added to this fact is the conviction that the Taliban have been able to survive these 20 years thanks to the external support (of Pakistan, especially), and the suspicion, launched by the expert Ahmed Rashid, that they have been advised militarily to be able to close a successful and rapid occupation of the whole country.

In the future it will be necessary to use all available pressure mechanisms to prevent the consolidation of a repressive regime of human rights that could spread to the rest of the Islamic world. What the United States cannot pretend is to believe that, once it is out of there, it is over. The lesson of the 9/11 attacks was precisely the opposite: that the battlefield against Jihadism is the world.