Did the US Suffer Defeat in Afghanistan?

We would advise against euphorically asserting that the U.S. suffered a defeat in Afghanistan, as some jingoistic observers and Telegram channels think.* It is tempting to do that if one believes that the U.S. was truly pursuing the objectives it professed to pursue in Afghanistan. But we should not think that American strategists are so stupid that they didn’t understand the prospects for Afghanistan and believed in the possibility of democratizing Afghanistan — even after the exit of Britain and the Soviet Union.

It would have been a defeat if the American army had lost, and the political regime in the U.S. had changed. None of this happened. This means that it’s not a defeat but a change of policy methods.

One shouldn’t believe that, by going into Afghanistan, the U.S. believed it could reform the country. In that case, it would have done everything possible to create a normal economy there — as in Japan, South Korea or Western Europe. But instead, the U.S. limited itself there to creating a global center for the production of heroin, putting no effort into creating the economic basis for any democratic superstructure.

In reality, that means the U.S. achieved its objectives in Afghanistan, and it no longer made any sense to remain. What were these objectives? Creating the basic conditions to destabilize China and Russia. The U.S. never wanted to root out the Taliban (an organization whose activity is banned in the Russian Federation) or the Islamic State (an organization whose activity is banned in the Russian Federation), otherwise it would have done so. Washington merely wanted to make the Taliban fall in line.

But Washington (just like everyone else) understood that the power vacuum following its departure would immediately be filled. They knew perfectly well that the Afghan regime had no support among the masses and was incapable of existing without the United States. Just because the U.S. made other predictions doesn’t mean that it really believed in them there. The fact that the U.S. did not create a social foundation for its puppet regime suggests that it wasn’t going to rely on them after its exit.

The British wanted to, and wherever they wanted to, they did. London’s influence remains in India, Hong Kong and the Middle East, even if it has been exchanged with Washington for money and territory. Couldn’t the U.S. have applied this know-how if it had wanted to? It’s hard to say. After all, it didn’t even try. The U.S. limited itself to supporting a few puppet regimes.

That is, the U.S. used its time in Afghanistan to create the conditions it needed. The invasion of Afghanistan made it possible to control drug trafficking, establish contact with Islamist groups, and simply occupy territory so as not to allow room for rivals. Afghanistan was a lever of influence on the processes of other regions.

When Russia and China gained strength and started establishing ties with the Taliban, while in the Middle East Russia went into Syria and together with China worked with Iran, staying in Afghanistan became pointless. Now an Afghan vacuum filled by the Taliban will work toward U.S. objectives. Everyone understands that when the U.S. assumes control and consolidates its position, it will find a ton of leverage to motivate it to take the necessary actions.

One might say the U.S. left in order to stay. It switched to a strategy of indirect operations, and we will confront the Americans in Afghanistan many times in the days to come. Their intelligence networks, ties with the Taliban, and intermediaries remain.

This is not a defeat but a change of tactics. The Americans weren’t dumb enough to think they would seriously be able to build a coalition-based democracy in Afghanistan. Money means nothing to the Americans: they just print it. There’s no point catching Joe Biden in a lie. He says what he says for domestic political purposes.

The Americans didn’t fight the Taliban in order to lose to them. The Americans changed their tactics there. Their objective was something else, and it’s no accident that China and Russia’s military experts have been so diligently traveling throughout Central Asia. They understand: The real war is just beginning. The customer is the same. The provocateur no longer matters.

*Editor’s note: Telegram is a Russian social network.

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About Jeffrey Fredrich 199 Articles
Jeffrey studied Russian language at Northwestern University and at the Russian State University for the Humanities. He spent one year in Moscow doing independent research as a Fulbright fellow from 2007 to 2008.

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