With the 20-year anniversary of the Twin Towers Attacks in New York fast approaching, the US Biden Administration has seen this date as an appropriate milestone upon which to hinge the final withdrawal of troops and a military presence from Afghanistan.
Yes, you might easily wonder upon the relevance and the link. But the War on Terror which followed the Terrorist Attacks on the United States in September 2001, was purposefully linked with Afghanistan. This land-locked, war-ravaged Country was selected by the ‘Western Allies’ as the place where the ‘fight back’ would begin.
The question that we should be asking, as we see Western Powers falling over themselves to get personnel out of the Country as quickly as possible – whilst the Taliban take over Cities and Towns daily, imposing their own medieval interpretation of Islam on a battle-weary population at every step as they do – is what exactly did we achieve by invading Afghanistan, and who really benefitted as a result?
Terror, or rather ‘Islamic’ Terror, hasn’t gone away. People are still being indoctrinated with this brutal take on an otherwise peaceful Religion, and the very same hatred of the Western World which was present 20 years ago is still very much in existence, if not even worse now as a result of the so-called ‘War on Terror’ than it was even then.
You cannot bomb or kill a way of thinking out of existence. If anything, extreme violence encourages even more empathy and support for what a very questionable cause might otherwise be, with the immediate question ‘what is so wrong with us that we are treated this way’, quickly giving way to yet more fervency of an ideology that sees justice in the pursuit of the destruction of Western thinking in every conceivable way.
Basically, our politicians and the strategists and advisers behind them, simply don’t think. They don’t think about the consequences of the decisions they make. They certainly don’t take time to think about the reality or many realities that underpin an ideology and mindset that drives other human beings to want to engage in terrible, violent acts and self-sacrifice, and why the behaviour of Western Governments over decades and possibly centuries too, has led other people and perhaps even entire nations to look at us all and think this way too.
Afghanistan is known historically as a graveyard for Armies. We, the British have been there before. So too have the Russians. And over the past two decades, even a substantial International Presence under the strategic ‘leadership’ of the United States has done nothing to turn what certainly appears to be an historic tide another and more peaceful way.
The flaw in the West’s thinking, is to look upon other cultures in Countries such as Afghanistan, and think that the way we live, the way we do things, the way we value money above all else, and the way we let business put their interests above all other interests is in some way enlightened. We believe that what we see to be an advanced way of living gives us the right to call ourselves civilised, whilst looking down judgementally on anyone who fails to share the same values or doesn’t prize the same things that we do.
The difference between what we have been conditioned to believe as perfectly normal and in everyone’s best interests, and the cultures that we see as backward shows that we have a complete lack of respect for reality.
We have the arrogance to look upon other ways of living and belief systems with a level of disdain that when thought about carefully really should be telling is that the backward cultures of the world are more likely to be our own.
Surely, we must be able to appreciate the level of hatred and the pain necessary, for the way of life that the Taliban, ISIS and Islamic State dictate to be attractive to bring enough people to their cause that they can take over entire Regions and Countries and remove the supposedly more civilised and Westernised systems that were previously in their place as if they never existed.
No, there is simply no excuse for the barbarity of what they do and the excuses they overtly give for doing so.
But until we manage any unavoidable intervention in a foreign land with a real respect for local culture and local populations in the way that we should do, rather than simply attempting to impose ways of thinking that mirror our own, we are destined to create even more disharmony, hurt our real friends and put enemies – and potentially violent ones in their place.
The trick was missed as soon as we walked into Afghanistan. Our politicians and their henchmen did what we always do at home. They snuggled up to the people with the platforms and the loudest voices who inevitably had their own agenda, rather than taking time to reach out, engage and build relationships with the people who have something worth investing in, but are inevitably hidden from view.
Despite many opportunities and hundreds of needless UK Service Personnel deaths, the approach that we took and the influence that we could have asserted on the US leadership, all we have left anyone in Afghanistan has been a sum total of damage and chaos along the way, with the final betrayal of leaving them at the mercy of the Taliban.
Both Biden and Johnson may believe that this is the end of the Afghanistan Chapter and that elsewhere, there are bigger fish for them to fry.
But there aren’t. All these foreign interventions without thought and consideration for the consequences do is cause more problems for the populations of those Countries, and inevitably a whole lot more trouble for us – no matter what our politicians do to hide it from our view.
The more sinister aspect of the Western ‘exit’ from Afghanistan this time, leaving the Country in the terrible state that it is and on the verge of all-out civil war with perhaps yet another attempt at a medieval-type Caliphate taking over, is that China is looking to develop interests there, and their involvement could easily bring legitimacy to an archaic form of despotism in a volatile part of the World and with a level of threat to us that we have never knowingly experienced before.
The chances are that in a world destabilised by the Covid Pandemic and the chickens which are decades of financial mindlessness and money printing coming home to roost, it will not be long after 11 September 2021 before our attention is drawn to the mistakes that our politicians have made and Afghanistan once more.