AFGHANISTAN, The Graveyard of Empires

The British tried it (three times) in the nineteenth century. The Soviet Union tried it in the twentieth

century. And now, as we painfully see, the Americans tried it in the twenty-first century. All failed,

to subdue Afghanistan.


The parallels being drawn with the Viet Cong’s humiliation of the United States in Vietnam,

and those of the Taliban, as unsavory as they are, are as

clear as day. Just 8 months into his presidency, and Biden has found himself to be the

unwitting chief architect of American biggest foreign policy failure since the evacuation of Saigon and the

Iranian hostage crisis.


Every war needs an end-game and the US, along with select Western allies, had been bogged down

in Afghanistan for nearly twenty years. In that time, thousands of American men and women laid

down their lives. It couldn’t go on forever. Yet for the Taliban to over-run the country in a matter of

a few days following the American / NATO withdrawal, represents a catastrophic failure not of the

American military, but of American intelligence, the State Department, the Pentagon and,

ultimately, the Oval Office. How can this have been so badly mis-managed? The world’s greatest,

most sophisticated strategists and experts completely dumb-founded by a resurgent Taliban, who

were essentially gifted a country of 38 million people by the United States to subsequently subjugate

and terrorize.


While Biden has to take his fair share of responsibility in this, to those Trump supporters screaming

about the betrayal of Afghanistan, let’s rewind a little and recall the Kurds. Do they not remember

Trump suddenly pulling American support for them in the face of ISIS? Where was their outrage at

that? Even more so, the Doha agreement, signed by the US and the Taliban in February 2020,

initiating the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan the following year, was signed off by the

Trump administration.

Trump’s Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, was gleefully photographed with a

top Taliban negotiator in the run up to Doha. Trump even secretly invited the Taliban to diplomatic

talks at Camp David before pulling out of them at the last minute. Of course, to the MAGA masses

and the creatures that inhabit the right-wing fever swamp, that is all now conveniently forgotten.


Yet the blame lies further than just Trump and Biden. Ever since 2001, successive administrations

have screwed up when it comes to Afghanistan. Immediately after the Twin Towers were attacked,

Afghanistan was lined up by the Bush presidency to feel the wrath of Washington’s grief. That 15 of

the 19 9/11 attackers were from Saudi Arabia, and not Afghanistan, was conveniently overlooked.

After all, what’s a matter of what’s right and wrong when it comes to lucrative US – Saudi arms

deals? That is a mere minor inconvenience. Also, that Bin Laden, the mastermind of 9/11, was

taken out in Pakistan, a supposed American ally, and not in Afghanistan, seems to have been nothing

more than a technicality as far as Washington was concerned.


The reality is, American and Western Middle Eastern foreign policy has been a train-wreck since the

day that oil was discovered in abundance in the area just prior to the First World War. Biden is just

the latest of a long line of presidents to have learned that painful lesson. You may control the skies,

you may control the roads, but if you don’t have sway over hearts and minds, even the most

advanced military power is doomed to failure.