Afghanistan — The Long Defeat

In announcing his decision to withdraw all remaining US troops from Afghanistan, President Joe Biden declared that ‘it’s time to end America’s longest war.’ The wording of the President’s announcement left little room for backtracking so his decision appears to be definitive. It’s also necessary and long overdue, if not without risk.

But it will not actually ‘end’ the war that began just weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks when US special operations forces and CIA paramilitary units entered Afghanistan. The conflict that Americans are accustomed to calling the Afghanistan War will continue, albeit without any overt US military involvement. As the Americans and their coalition partners vacate the scene, the fate of the nation that the United States has spent some $2 trillion vainly attempting to pacify and transform will once more fall to the Afghan people. No doubt to the accompaniment of considerable violence, they will decide whether the Western-installed government in Kabul will survive or whether the Taliban will return to power.

Of course, that war began in 2001 as an effort to oust the Taliban regime then ruling Afghanistan. That authorities in Washington — both the present administration and its predecessor — now deem the Taliban to be a fit negotiating partner is one expression of how this longest war in US history has not panned out as expected. The very real possibility that the US military departure will find the Taliban once more calling the shots in Kabul hints at the full extent of that failure.

While no one in the White House or at the State Department, much less the Pentagon, will say so aloud, the fact is that the vaunted US military has suffered a resounding defeat in Afghanistan. There is no disguising the fact that it has failed to accomplish the mission assigned. It surrenders the field of battle to an enemy that now sees final victory in sight. Even without dramatic video footage of overloaded helicopters lifting off from the roof of the US embassy, the likely outcome of the Afghanistan War bears comparison with the Vietnam debacle of a half-century ago.

Read the full article in the American Spectator.