The saddest thing is that the consequences of the events in Afghanistan will start the avalanche of terrorist threats.
by LEONID STEKEL
So, we observe the last act of the drama called “Afghanistan”. Unfortunately, the meaning of what is happening now in a distant country, alas, remains beyond the understanding of the public. In fact, today in Russia there is no single party to understand what is happening. Simply every participant in the political process will try to write down another achievement for themselves, or make the loss as light as possible.
Today the position of Russia and people professing the post-Soviet pro-Russian ideology is the easiest. The confidence that Afghanistan has always been a place where any “external players” will sooner or later “get their ass kicked ” is the main component of this position. This, as it were, is a retroactive justification for the defeat of the USSR in the war with the dushmans in Afghanistan. At one time in the USSR, trying to explain the collapse of the military campaign against the rebels, they liked to refer to the wars of the British Empire with Afghanistan etc. Meanwhile, it is quite obvious that Afghanistan of the 19th century, Afghanistan of the time of the introduction of Soviet troops in 1979, and Afghanistan at the beginning of the 2000s are completely different territories, living according to completely different laws.
When the USSR started the “Afghan game” it was not too successful, not too developed, but more or less stable, on the whole, secular Islamic country. Secular Islamic countries can more or less successfully exist independently, but, of course, a democratic form of government in such countries is excluded. Unfortunately, the result of the “Afghan game of the USSR” was the collapse of the secular state, and the transformation of this former country into the territory of militant Islamic paramilitary groups. I’m talking about paramilitary groups, not gangs, not because they, for the most part, did not behave like bandits. Quite the opposite. But the fact is that these were ideologized bandits: the Jihad covered and justified any crimes in their eyes.
The history of the territory called Afghanistan after the withdrawal of Soviet troops reminds me of Stanislav Lem’s famous story “The Invincible”. In this story, an earthly spaceship finds itself on a planet where there is an unnatural inanimate evolution. The fact is that the essence of any evolution usually consists in the development from simple to complex. But Lem describes a “wrong evolution” in which a swarm of mechanical bees won a civilizational conflict with complex multifunctional devices. Lem drew attention to the fact that if resources are limited and cannot be increased, then a complex civilization loses the civilization battle to simple structures. In my opinion, this is an ideal model of what happened in Afghanistan.
It all started, of course, after the withdrawal of the Soviet troops. There was no doubt that in the beginning there was a feeble attempt to re-establish a secular Islamic state. But the generation that could actually do this basically died in the war with the USSR. The normal path of civilization – the unification of the tribes under the leadership of the most powerful leaders and the subsequent formation of a new secular power – was also not possible, for the same reasons: there are very few people left who could stop the war between everyone and focus society on building a new life. In fact, the further war was not for a new life, but for plundering the remnants of the resources that the USSR poured into Afghanistan, hoping with these technical supplies to close the abyss of the personnel reserve caused precisely by the introduction of Soviet troops.
Just like Lem’s, during this war of all against all, the densest, the most irreconcilable, the cruellest won. In this war, the focus on building the new was a weakness, those who did not want to build anything on principle, but only to rob and kill everyone they could reach, won. “Negative” evolution, exactly according to Lem.
I have no data, but I suppose that drugs became the main lifesaver of the Taliban in this war. When I first wrote about this, many people in comments disagreed with me. My idea, meanwhile, is very simple: I am sure that it was the Soviet military contingent that created the first real drug market in Afghanistan. Afghanistan was a closed country, without logistics – this is not Colombia, and not Venezuela. And Soviet transport networks, above all military aircraft, were the ideal drug transportation system. Moreover, the entire middle link of the grouping of Soviet troops, occupied not with armed clashes, but with supplies, was thoroughly saturated with corruption and theft. I cannot prove this, although it is known that very many of those who served there took drugs, this is described in great detail in Alexievich’s book “Zinc Boys”. Given the total corruption of the era of “stagnation”, I think that the emergence of the Afghan drug market fits well into the history of our “stagnation”. Unfortunately, the documents of that time have not been published, so only hypotheses remain.
The history of the Taliban largely repeats the fate of the first Arab conquerors of the 7th-8th centuries AD. Such a “pyramid”, not financial, but predatory: new production justifies and covers the costs of continuing the campaign. The problem with such a policy is that any serious defeat during expansion can not only stop expansion, but also destroy the movement itself. The Taliban’s salvation was undoubtedly drugs. They are easy to grow, easy to control, and provide a lot of money to keep you going.
However, in general, the Taliban made Afghanistan hit the limit. This was one of the reasons why the allied forces (the United States and its allies), with the introduction of troops, without the slightest difficulty, completely defeated the Taliban.
Now there will be a lot of talks about how the Taliban managed to hold out for 20 years, and in the end won the war with the United States. Many will remember South Vietnam, although in this case there is nothing to do with that situation. Of course, all reasoning, in order to be reliable, must be based on concrete facts. It’s just that neither the supporters of the post-Soviet-pro-Russian view of events, nor the representatives of the world media, belonging to the traditional left-wing crowd, like to mention some facts. So let’s recall the facts.
The United States and its allies have deployed troops to Afghanistan in connection with the cooperation of the terrorist activities of Al Qaeda and the Taliban after the mega-terrorist attack in the United States in September 2001. President George W. Bush was not afraid then to officially declare war on the Taliban. The Taliban were smashed to smithereens in no time. However, it did not disappear. Why? The Taliban’s economic life was based on racketeering and blackmail. Given the complex logistics of mountainous Afghanistan, the complete loyalty of border elites was required to destroy the Taliban. This loyalty could only be obtained in two ways: buy or intimidate.
The Americans tried to use the buy option. But when your opponent engages in racketeering and blackmailing, it’s useless to just buy loyalty. Only a ruthless government that is ready to avenge deception can count on loyalty in such conditions.
Thousands of people at the Kabul airport are trying to escape Afghanistan after the Taliban victory.
The Allied troops, and primarily the United States, firstly, were not in power in Afghanistan – there was their own elected power, and, secondly, they were generally extremely limited in their rights to punish and pardon.
Having the Ukrainian experience of Western state investments in reforms, one can absolutely say for sure that the Taliban lived, first of all, on kickbacks of American money. That is, probably, carrying out racketeering of performers, he received kickbacks from them for protecting their work. The fact that relations within Afghanistan were exactly like this is clear, first of all, in the course of the Taliban’s offensive. Undoubtedly, the Taliban had support everywhere, which means that they previously controlled life in Afghanistan, and therefore received kickbacks.
That is, the main reason that the Taliban survived is the entire bureaucracy on which the US activity in Afghanistan was based. I have already written that it was madness to hope that a democratic electoral system could operate in a wild country where the middle class has been destroyed. However, this is only a part of the problem. The situation when the main investments are of a state nature and are distributed by the bureaucracy in a country where there is no middle class, where there is complete corruption, where elections are fiction, investments inevitably fall into the hands of those who do not care about the procedure and control everything by force.
Many analysts talk about the collapse of US imperial policy. The problem, however, is that the United States has no imperial policy at all. If they had a real imperial policy, the Taliban would have disappeared 20 years ago, and Afghanistan would have been ruled by an interim American administration, and all problems would have been solved there long ago. The history of South Vietnam is being repeated. Then Soviet propaganda liked to repeat about the imperial policy of the United States, about the puppet government of South Vietnam, etc. Of course, this had nothing to do with reality. The United States then acted exclusively in the role of an ally in conducting, in fact, not military, but police operations, but with military reinforcement. The US troops did not carry out any real strategic military operations, which made this war radically different even from the war in Korea. Moreover, for the Americans it was not even a war from the legislative point of view. But this is for a separate discussion.
The Afghan operation is a POLICE operation with the use of armed forces. The United States and its allies acted here in the role of the “world policeman”. The problem is that being the world’s policeman isn’t enough. We must really take power, and the status of a policeman will simply help maintain the order established by the authorities. And US politicians are trying to protect only the status of a policeman. It is clear that in the absence of real political power, such a status will give nothing.
And the ending. I read the statements of anti-American analysts who believe that China will successfully resolve all issues with the Taliban. But this is very doubtful.
The Taliban’s experience teaches that they are NOT capable of organizing a constructive peaceful life. The Taliban can only redistribute the loot. This means that the Taliban can exist only in the presence of jihad – expansion. Let me remind you that this is why President George W. Bush started the war with the Taliban. Since then, nothing has changed. Yes, the Taliban now have a lot of money and property – the legacy of the Americans. But that won’t last long. It is possible to buy off jihad for a while. Actually, without a doubt, both Russia and China are hoping for exactly this. Russia is acting out of habit, not carefully calculating the consequences of the decisions made. Therefore, it is Russia that will be the first to have huge problems associated with the allied countries in Central Asia. They are, without a doubt, the first target in the expansion of the Taliban. China is in a better position and has a lot of experience working with armed, ideological bandits in Africa. But, unlike the Central Asian republics, China is a very profitable target. Therefore, it is difficult to expect a long period of mutual understanding between them.
In all other respects, Afghanistan will inevitably become a very big problem, since, unlike the drug cartels in Latin America, where money is the main thing, in the Taliban the main thing is Jihad. The Taliban have no weapons problem for many years now. The situation is many times worse than it was in 2001.
Undoubtedly, now one of the most important questions is the assessment of the behavior of the administration of President Biden in Afghanistan. Many believe that accusing his administration of the political and military catastrophe in Afghanistan is unfair, since the problem did not arise yesterday, and President Trump also considered it necessary to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.
Yes, even from the moment troops entered Afghanistan, the Americans did not have a clear understanding of how to solve this problem. President George W. Bush believed that by defeating the Taliban and organizing elections, the Americans should transfer power to the local leadership. In the future, the US Army was obliged to train local military and police personnel, who were supposed to manage the power branch of government.
It quickly became clear that this scheme would not work. It was simply impossible to maintain order in the country without the American army. The electoral system also proved incapable of creating lasting power, primarily because there is no middle class in the country, and there is not the slightest trust between clans and tribes. A very sad role was played by the focus of the world leftist community on the rights of women and sexual minorities. I have never come across any materials in the media where the work of the institutions of power in Afghanistan is analyzed, everyone was only engaged in studying the issue of the rights of women and sex minorities.
However, the Biden administration does bear a very heavy responsibility. The fact is that for all the isolationism of President Trump, he perfectly understood that the East is not the place where one can show weakness. Donald Trump hit his opponents quite rarely, but hard. And with all the curses that were heard against him from the enemies, the opponents of America did not dare to really strike at the Americans during his reign.
President Biden acted quite differently in this regard. First, he showed surprising weakness in relation to the provocations of the Iranian IRGC. Secondly, he, for some unknown reason, set an absolutely thoughtless timetable for the withdrawal of American troops. The withdrawal of troops cannot be carried out by any date, as they liked to do in the USSR with the delivery of facilities. His decision sent a clear signal in Afghanistan that America was abandoning this country. This is a clear and overt manifestation of weakness. This, by the way, had already happened in recent history, when Barack Obama tried to cover up the conspiracies of Islamists against the offices of the State Department in Arab countries with the discontent of Muslims with a ridiculous film. Whether America itself believed this or not is a special conversation, but the Islamists have clearly understood that the Obama administration will not respond to their actions.
The saddest thing is that the consequences of the events in Afghanistan will start the avalanche of terrorist threats. The terrorists have clearly realized that the Americans under Biden are not ready for military action. Someone will have to pay a high price for this.
By the way, the American generals in charge of the armed forces under Biden strongly asked the President not to withdraw all the troops. Even with Biden’s constant stake on the selection of the most “leftist” generals. But Biden did his best to ensure that the stupidity was carried out in full. Yes, at the same time the reference was to the allegedly quite obvious facts: the Afghan government had 300 thousand soldiers under arms, and the Taliban – seventy-five. But the difference between a real politician and a fake one is that he knows how to analyze the situation. And President Biden, alas, is only a demagogue who has seized power, believing that PR can replace analysis.
Now the most important issue for the United States remains the Iranian one. Whether President Biden will draw conclusions from the events in Afghanistan or not, it will very soon be known when the US and Iran will get back to negotiations.
Without a doubt, we are entering a new era, the new post-September 2001. There are still bombs brought by President Biden to politics a year ago, to explode. But, even, I did not expect such stupidity from him. Let’s see how it will be with the nonsense expected of him.