Mayday Kabul – Déjà-vu Saigon
The advance of the Taliban has been unbelievable fast in last weeks. They have moved closer to retaking full control of Afghanistan, with the capital Kabul now the only major city left in government hands. Today, the militants took control of Jalalabad, a key eastern city, without a fight. It followed the seizure of Mazar-i-Sharif just a day earlier.
The rapid collapse of government forces has left Afghan President Ashraf Ghani under growing pressure to resign. He has left a crucial choice of surrender or fight to the bitter end in trying to hold the capital.
Meanwhile, the US has begun evacuating members of staff from its embassy in Kabul. On Sunday morning they were being taken to the airport where they have been seen boarding six large military transport planes. The US has deployed extra 5000 troops to help with the operation.
Biden wants to avoid “Saigon Moment” in Afghanistan. This “moment” refers to the capture of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, by the army of North Vietnam on 30 April 1975. The event marked the end of the 1955-1975 Vietnam War, a military conflict between North Vietnam, supported by China and the Soviet Union and South Vietnam, backed by the US and its allies.
Withdrawing from Afghanistan was supposed to give Biden more attention to focus on China. However, the reality is that the resulting civil war or Taliban obvious takeover in Afghanistan is going to require far more of his attention than it did before. The collapse of present Afghan government will bring about the situation, which backfires on the Biden administration and moves it from bad to worse.
Now, after 20 years and trillion of dollars, the American defeat in Afghanistan is even worse than the Soviet failure…how and why has this happened?
The pace of the Taliban advance has been remarkable, in many places, government forces simply escaped and ran away without a fight. Now the troops that the US and its NATO allies trained and equipped at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars have scattered to the four winds with only the slightest effort at resistance.
In short, the 20 years of America’s and NATO’s war and military support to Afghan government and the army has ended in shameful failure – total and absolute. But the problem lies not in the military equipment, supply or exercises. Officially (on the paper), the Afghan Army has had plenty of equipment and exercises and in addition they outnumber the Taliban and are better supplied. The problem is one of morale, simply put, only a few of them are willing to die for their government.
Besides those above-mentioned features, it is important to recall the fact that the Taliban movement is mainly created by CIA against the Soviet incursion (in 1980s). Now this monster has turned against its creator.
A curious feature in this whole mess is also that so many small European NATO (and even non-NATO) countries have been contributing this operation, together for billions of dollars. For what? What have they got or what is left? Simply put it, NOTHING but a moral hangover.
When writing this article, the latest news from Kabul says that the Taliban have entered the city and started the final push… “That’s life”, sang Frank Sinatra back in the day.