The image that will remain for the posterity of the war in Afghanistan will not be that of the victorious entry of NATO soldiers into Kabul on November 12, 2001. It will be that of a US Air Force C-17 that, 20 years ago later, he took the track to get away from the hornet’s nest while an anguished crowd ran alongside the plane in the vain hope of being evacuated before the imminent entry of the rebels into the capital. It was the outcome of an armed intervention that then-President Bush undertook as a reaction to the attacks on the Twin Towers and in which, as happened in the 1960s in Vietnam, the world’s leading power ended up muddy to the neck.
In announcing the withdrawal from Afghanistan on Monday, President Biden proclaimed that the military offensive had two objectives from its inception – to punish those responsible for the 9/11 attacks and to ensure that Al Qaeda would no longer use Afghanistan to attack. to the US- and that these were fulfilled. He stressed that the mission in Afghanistan was never intended to develop a nation-building project or create a “unified and centralized democracy” (he used those terms, who knows why). What happened, according to his account, is that the initial strategy became entangled and the US suddenly found itself exposing its soldiers and injecting billions of dollars into an intervention whose raison d’être had already expired.
In his speech, Biden said with an undeniable tone of reproach that his predecessor, Donald Trump, promoted during his term in office a drastic reduction of soldiers (from 15,500 to 2,200) “at the time of greatest Taliban strengthening since 2001.” Now, he added, there was no choice but to apply the agreement signed by Trump with the rebels in May 2020 to end the war, because the alternative would be to squander more soldiers’ lives and more taxpayer money. In other words, as the undesirable Trump strengthened the Taliban by cutting back on the military presence, what is right now is to give them control of the country, because what are we going to do? But it is also that, according to Biden’s speech, the Afghans deserve their luck for having had leaders who did not put enough effort into collaborating with the United States in the war. Some leaders who, by the way, have already put their feet in dust in a timely manner, while the crowds desperately run along the planes on the airport runways looking for an impossible evacuation.
Joe Biden will go down in history as the president under whose mandate the war in Afghanistan ended, when in reality what he is going to do is comply with an agreement sealed by Trump that hands the country over to the Taliban, four decades after the US threw them out. bombings. Before becoming president, Biden was vice president in the Obama administration and could have interceded to end the war, but what his government did was to redouble the military presence in Afghanistan. Now it is his turn to end it badly, following in the wake of the grotesque Trump, without even bothering to make a Spencer Tracy reflection that allows him to draw moral and political conclusions about what he himself highlighted as the longest war in the history of USA. To get an idea, all when he said about the chilling horizon that awaits the Afghans, and particularly the Afghans, with the return of the Taliban fanatics, was: “We will continue to raise our voice for the basic rights of the Afghan people – from women and girls – as we speak out around the world. ” Indeed, Biden could have summed up his speech in five words: “Fuck Afghanistan!” But such sincerity could have hurt susceptibilities.
The president assumed that his decision would be the object of criticism, but both he and his advisers know well that, within the United States, which is what matters, the majority of public opinion supports it. To dispel the unpleasant feeling that the country is leaving Afghanistan with its tail between its legs, he insisted that the objectives of the intervention were fully met – although he did not clarify why he assumes that terrorism will not act again from Afghanistan- and solemnly proclaimed that he will not do to the youth of today what the leaders of his country did to his generation in the Vietnam War: “continue to risk their lives in a military action that should have ended long ago”; that is, what the government of which he was vice president did with the youth of the past decade.
I will not enter into judging whether the United States won or lost the war. That fight I leave it to the unconditional admirers and obstinate detractors of the country, who number in the millions. I could, yes, say that I have not observed fireworks celebrations after Biden’s announcement. Pending the judgment of history, the only thing I know for sure at this point is that Afghanistan, after 20 years subjected to the generous help of Washington and its enthusiastic allies, including Spain, ranks 160th in GDP per capita. in the world, surpassed in poverty by only a score of countries in sub-Saharan Africa. And that the Taliban are back.