Afghanistan’s decades of experience run counter to it
20 years ago, when the twin towers and the Pentagon were still burning, the US military and diplomatic circles had a feeling that history was turning a new chapter for Afghanistan and most people in the Islamic world“ Every country has to make a choice, “said then U.S. President George W. Bush on October 7, 2001, the day the U.S. military began bombing Afghanistan. Privately, senior US diplomats are more outspoken. Then U.S. Deputy Secretary of state Armitage told his Pakistani counterparts, “for you and us, history begins today.”
Earlier this month, when the Taliban stormed across Afghanistan, retired U.S. Lieutenant Colonel Dempsey, who participated in the war twice, accidentally saw Armitage’s remarks at that time. For Dempsey, this emotion is “the most American thing I have ever heard”, which also reflects his arrogance and ignorance of this failed war and many others. “We think the rest of the world sees us as we see ourselves,” he said. We believe that we can use our weapons and money to shape the world in our mind. ” Both assumptions ignore the culture, politics and history of Afghanistan. Sadly, both assumptions are wrong, he said.
The near collapse of the Afghan army in just a few weeks has prompted the military and policymakers in Washington to reflect on their failures over the past 20 years. For many people, the root cause of the disaster goes back to the early days of the war. At that time, the Taliban had just been ousted. About 20 Afghan celebrities met with officials of the U.S. government, NATO and the United Nations in Bonn, Germany, preparing to carefully build a new Afghan government according to the image of the United States and its European allies. If you look at the Afghan constitution formulated in Bonn, it is trying to create a western democracy. Looking back, the United States and its allies were very wrong from the beginning. Its standards are based on our democratic ideals, not on sustainable or viable Afghanistan. ”
Frunova later admitted that both the Republican and democratic governments had made the same mistakes and continued to pursue goals that ran counter to Afghanistan’s decades of experience with the same enthusiasm. By the time Obama took office in 2009, almost everyone knew that the United States was losing the war. In order to reverse the momentum of the Taliban, Obama signed a troop increase plan, which more than doubled the size of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Flonova said she was initially hopeful that the plan would work. During her visit to Afghanistan, she frequently met with young Afghans, including women’s groups, who are consistent with the United States’ vision of the country. But these people are no match for corruption within the Afghan government.
Flonova said she and other U.S. officials understand that there will be “slight corruption” given that all U.S. funds flow in Afghanistan. In 2010, after the start of the surge, U.S. officials found deeper corruption, which endangered the U.S. strategy, which depended on establishing the legitimacy of the Afghan government“ “We realized it wouldn’t work,” frunova said. “We made a big bet and found that our local partners were terribly corrupt.”
Meanwhile, current and former U.S. officials are trying to figure out why a government and security force that took more than 20 years and cost more than $100 billion to establish collapsed so quickly. Carter marcassian, a long-term adviser to the commander of the U.S. military in Afghanistan, believes that the reason why Afghan forces are weak is not only that they rely heavily on the United States, but also because they lack a reunification cause that can resonate with Afghans. In contrast, Taliban members fight for their culture and Islam. Markassian said that they “represent something inspiring, something that makes them strong on the battlefield, something closely connected with the meaning of being Afghans”.
The above observations illustrate the limitations of U.S. power and raise a broader question, that is, how the disastrous and embarrassing failure of Afghanistan will limit the evolution of U.S. foreign policy“ We know what happens when we fall into imperialist arrogance. What about the heartbreak of the Empire? ” Asked John Gans, a former Pentagon civil servant under the Obama administration.
Today, the “9.11” terrorist attack and the war in Afghanistan have attracted many rising stars in military command and foreign policy to serve the government. After low-risk peacekeeping missions in the 1990s, the United States and its foreign policy suddenly seemed to become the center of the world in the years after 2001. Gans said that driven by “ambition, conceit and desire to influence world events”, an entire generation of American leaders are eager to try.
It seems certain that the use of military power will be affected by this hot experience in Afghanistan in the next few years. U.S. foreign policy will be guided by more moderate ambitions, especially when weighing the use of military power. Frunova envisions a future in which military power will be limited to clearer objectives and used in a more humble manner in disseminating democracy or changing society. In many cases, this is a vision of using force to control long-term problems, not to solve them.
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