The morning after in Afghanistan

Americans of different opinions will find themselves in agreement in branding as execrable certain comments of supposedly friendly newspapers in Europe that are showing a charged dose of schadenfreude for the American loss of Afghanistan. One Italian newspaper — Corriere della Sera — had this comment by one of its modest writers: “The fall of Kabul is a deadly strike for the international credibility of the United States.” Pronouncements of this kind carry a latent anti-Americanism, which is not surprising, but mostly a heavy dose of ignorance of the reality of world geopolitics which force principal countries to make terrible decisions. Afghanistan, admittedly, was a disaster from the get-go. The European press that is pouring disdain on the American predicament in Afghanistan certainly did not carry such devastating comments when the Soviets abandoned Afghanistan after being beaten by the Mujahideen, surreptitiously aided by the CIA.It is now the morning after, but this will pass. More important is the day when the civilized world will have to deal with the Taliban who promise everything but to become civil. One thing must be said in order to defang the anti-American prognostications of the Corrieres of the world: There will not be an Afghanistan syndrome in America, comparable to the Vietnam syndrome that afflicted Americans and especially the armed forces.This said, there will be plenty of blame to go around for the debacle in Kabul. The choice was never between immediate withdrawal and an endless war. The army knew damn well that if it was a war, it could not be won in a country that was known as “the graveyard of empires.” The American commanders knew that the Afghan army was a sieve of corruption where the soldiers did not clean their weapons, had no leadership whatsoever and 20% of them went AWOL at any given time.Four administrations and the Congresses from 2001 to 2021 denied the reality that most Americans saw. Americans are not culpable in this sorrowful chapter of recent American history and people outside should understand that today’s Americans — polarized as they are by myriad political and cultural issues — could not care less if not-so-friendly writers overseas blabber on about the loss of American credibility. The time finally came when Americans realized that a country, no matter how powerful, cannot convince the people of another nation to fight for their own country. This is no time for the blame game. We know already that most Americans supported the withdrawal. President Biden may have miscalculated the timing but he was right in saying that it is no longer possible to send American troops to die when the Afghan army would not fight. As for the future, the essential thing is not to ignore the lessons of history. 

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