Unless US President Joe Biden’s administration admits it has failed to silence the guns and stop the bombings in Afghanistan, the deposed president of that country Ashraf Ghani and many of his compatriots could be justified to feel betrayed by the US government. This is because it is the US government that started the Taliban insurgents in 2001 when they wanted to kill al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.
The US was responding to the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, in which nearly 3 000 people were killed. Officials identified Islamist militant group al-Qaeda, and its leader Bin Laden, as responsible.
At that time Bin Laden was in Afghanistan, under the protection of the Taliban, the Islamists who had been in power since 1996.
When they refused to hand him over, the US intervened militarily, quickly removing the Taliban and vowing to support democracy and eliminate the terrorist threat.
Nato allies had joined the US and a new Afghan government took over in 2004 but deadly Taliban attacks continued. President Barack Obama’s “troop surge” in 2009 helped push back the Taliban but it was not long term.
In 2014, at the end of what was the bloodiest year since 2001, Nato’s international forces ended their combat mission, leaving responsibility for security to the Afghan army.
But that gave the Taliban momentum and they seized more territory.
Peace talks between the US and the Taliban started tentatively, with the Afghan government pretty much uninvolved, and the agreement on a withdrawal came in February 2020 in Qatar.
All the while, the US-Taliban deal did not stop the Taliban attacks. They just switched their focus instead to Afghan security forces and civilians, and targeted assassinations. Their areas of control grew.
This week the Taliban swept to victory in Afghanistan after capturing Kabul the Afghan capital. The development is a huge ask on the US government’s role and handling of the Taliban and Afghanistan government.
My contention is that the US government started a war it was little prepared to finish. Its only real agenda in Afghanistan was to capture bin Laden. Why the US-Taliban war in Afghanistan lasted 20 years is because the US was never really interested in the war after the death of Bin Laden, their key enemy.
If the US really wanted to squeeze the Taliban into a corner it could have done so. When the US has identified you as an enemy, or if it is unhappy with you, it will go for you and stop at nothing to bring you down. The US has done that first to Al-Qaeda leader Bin Laden and the Taliban government which it toppled in Afghanistan in 2001.
The US under president George Bush did the same to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi dictator was convicted of crimes against humanity—including willful killing, illegal imprisonment, deportation, and torture—and was sentenced to death by hanging.
In the same way Libyan leader Muamar Gadaffi was removed from power and summarily executed by the US-backed National Transition Council forces on October 20 2011. Loved by some at home for the significant improvements that his government brought to the Libyan people’s quality of life, Gadaffi was condemned by many including the US Government and its Western allies as a dictator whose authoritarian administration systematically violated human rights and financed global terrorism.
But after taking out Bin Laden the US government did not have the same commitment to bring and consolidate peace and democracy in Afghanistan. How could the US government sign a peace deal with the Talibans with the Afghanistan government largely uninvolved and expect peace in Afghanistan? The US government has betrayed Ghani and his compatriots.