Everyone seems to be granted the right to unlimited internal violence, to react the way they want, and to move backward.
The statement by President Joe Biden, who, announced the end of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan on Aug. 16, seems significant to me. The theories Biden put forward could mean a fundamental change in the whole paradigm of U.S. foreign policy.
First, the statement that the Americans are not engaged in “nation-building,” but a counter-terrorist operation is crucial. It marks the refusal of the U.S. to participate in regime change in the interest of promoting democratic institutions and values. The remark is the practical embodiment of the newfound American understanding that in the Middle East countries such as Iraq and in the country of Afghanistan, the source of legitimacy in the eyes of society is not a democratic election but fair representation of population groups in government.
Second, Biden made it clear that Americans must conduct successful and targeted counterterrorism operations rather than constant military presence and deployment in troubled countries.
Third, the withdrawal from Afghanistan and the absence of measures to contain the Taliban were due to America’s unwillingness to risk the lives of American soldiers considering the flight of the country’s political elite from Kabul, accompanied by the silent sabotage by the Afghan army.
By the way, three weeks ago, Biden noted that the Taliban consisted of 75,000 members, and the Afghan army that was trained and equipped by the U.S. numbered 300,000 troops. At the same time, the Afghan military also had aircraft capability, something the Taliban does not possess. If this army refused to fight the enemy, why did Americans have to take up the fight?
Fourth, it seems very likely that the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan fits quite logically into Biden’s new foreign policy and geopolitical strategy. The main enemy is China. Next in line is Russia, lagging in terms of the threat that it poses. Considering the U.S. does not need Middle Eastern oil, the country that holds power in the region becomes less critical. Furthermore, the Taliban, unlike al-Qaida, never planned terrorist attacks in the U.S. The Taliban have always been preoccupied with the Islamization of Afghanistan. Therefore, it does not constitute a direct terrorist threat to the U.S. And the violation of human rights, civil liberties and the oppression of women – although not a very pleasant reality – is taking place thousands of miles away from Washington. The U.S. can get over this.
In this new framework of regional certainty, the U.S. is leaving the Taliban in peace. The Taliban can carry out this peace under Shariah law in everyday life. Or, maybe, within a cross-border model of the organization of modern Muslim society. The examples of both Central Asian countries and Xinjiang in China come to mind. The natural appeal of the orthodox doctrine with pompous anti-corruption slogans easily catalyzes armies of supporters and adherents on either side of the border.
In this case, the U.S. has created potentially severe threats to Chinese and Russian national security without active military operations or significant expense. But China and Russia will have to foot the bill together with other member countries of the Collective Security Treaty Organization and Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
From that point forward, Washington can observe with satisfaction the fading threats to China coming from Hong Kong, Taiwan and the South China Sea region. Likewise, threats to Russia from Ukraine and the Baltic countries will subside to American satisfaction.
NATO has failed entirely in its Afghan mission. Without American leadership, the alliance became a toothless tiger. But, on the other hand, many countries suddenly became concerned with the conclusion of formal NATO agreements to guarantee protection. After all, promises are precarious and conditional, and carry no obligations.
The above circumstances, in my opinion, undoubtedly confirm initial thoughts the fundamental importance of Biden’s statement about the end of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.
And instead of cheering and looking for analogies with the American evacuation from Saigon, we must analyze the scale of these decisions and their consequences for Russia thoroughly and deeply.
The triumphant march of American democracy around the world is likely to have slowed down. Instead, everyone seems to be granted the right to unlimited internal violence, to react the way they want and to move backward.