By: Peter Oborne*
It’s just over three decades since the Soviet Union was driven out of Afghanistan in a moment of epic national humiliation. Thirty-two years on and this week the United States has suffered the identical fate.
U.S. failure to foresee how quickly the Taliban would enter Kabul demonstrates its congenital inability to understand a country it has occupied for 20 years
In each case the same story: a global superpower defeated by a peasant army from one of the poorest countries in the world. This is a world historical moment.
It raises two momentous questions.
The first concerns Afghanistan itself. Will the nation subside into civil war, as happened after the collapse of Soviet rule? The second concerns the United States. Will victory for the Taliban mark the end for United States global power?
Twenty-five years ago the Taliban massacred Shia Hazara, who constitute Afghanistan’s third-largest ethnic group and largest religious minority community.
There are also deep concerns about women’s rights, fully justified due to the Taliban’s long history of misogyny.
Future of the Empire
Ever since 1945, some would argue before, the United States has been the dominant global power. Last week’s humiliation places a giant question mark over that status and may come to be seen as a turning point in world history.
There are many reasons for thinking this. The failure to foresee how quickly the Taliban would enter Kabul demonstrates (yet again!) the Americans’ congenital inability to understand a country it has occupied for 20 years.
This giant intelligence failure will frighten its friends - and comfort its rivals. But U.S. President Joe Biden knows the country he leads has lost the taste for foreign entanglement and war. He may be mocked in foreign capitals and inside the State Department, but Biden is right to think that American voters are tired of war.
What a message this sends to U.S. allies!
Former U.S. president Donald Trump unkindly told Saudi King Salman he wouldn’t last two weeks without U.S. support. The events of the last week have shown that the U.S. will cheerfully ditch its allies.
The House of Saud will not be the only regime looking to forge a new set of relationships as the United States backs away. Europe too will need to rethink its security architecture. Meanwhile, the Middle East is slowly turning to West Asia.
Henry Kissinger once remarked that “It may be dangerous to be America’s enemy, but to be America’s friend is fatal.”
That remark has never seemed as relevant as today.
* Peter Oborne was named freelancer of the year in 2016 at the Online Media Awards. He was also named as British Press Awards Columnist of the Year in 2013.
Courtesy: Middle East Eye with note that some parts of the article has been removed for brevity.