BY EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO
What is unfolding in far away Afghanistan, is so near to us in Nigeria because of the inalienable fact that Nigeria has faced ferocious attacks by armed Islamic terrorists of Boko Haram that originally has their inspiration from the Talibans of Afghanistan who have now used the force of arms and primitive violence to capture power. Infact a serving minister in the Federal cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari is alleged to have posted videos defending the Talibans and al-Qaeda terrorists against the attacks by the United States of America soon after the September 11th 2001 bombings of the USA by Islamic terrorists.
What is unfolding before our eyes on television are Taliban fighters who took control of Kabul on Sunday, 15th August 2021 delivering the militant Islamist group the prize it has long sought: authority over all of Afghanistan as the Western-backed government collapsed, President Ashraf Ghani fled, and the long-dominant American presence appeared to be coming to an abrupt and chaotic end after nearly 20 years, so reports a USA media house.
Factually, the report that the takeover of the sprawling capital city had been years in the making, but was ultimately accomplished in a single day. Insurgent fighters, fresh off their conquests in each of Afghanistan’s provincial hubs over the previous week, faced little to no resistance as they entered the city through its major traffic arteries Sunday morning, is nothing but the truth.
The US media that reported expertly on these scenarios said further that by evening, the Taliban was giving television interviews in the lavish presidential palace, just hours after Ghani had departed Afghanistan. A desperate exodus was underway at the airport, with thousands of people clamouring to board flights. And the Pentagon was speeding in additional troops to assist with the withdrawal of U.S. personnel after the American flag was lowered from a now-abandoned embassy.
The footage of rifle-toting Taliban fighters occupying the presidential palace and rolling up the Afghan national flag stood as a defining image of a failed U.S. effort to transform Afghan society at the cost of a trillion dollars and thousands of lives lost.
“Decades from now, these images will be invoked as a vivid example of the limits of U.S. power, and of its inability to fight modern wars effectively or to end them on favourable terms,” said Michael Kugelman, an Afghanistan scholar at the Wilson Center.
Asked about comparisons to the United States’ departure from Vietnam in 1975, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on ABC News’s “This Week” that “this is manifestly not Saigon.” But the frenzied rush to the exits exuded anything but the calm and orderly withdrawal the administration had promised.
As the Taliban encircled and then entered Kabul on Sunday, U.S. personnel at the embassy in Afghanistan relocated to the airport along with acting U.S. ambassador Ross Wilson, who left the sprawling U.S. compound with the American flag. As of late Sunday, “all embassy personnel” had been moved to the airport, the State Department said in a statement.
The above news reports by the US media follows a series of reports that the USA although a self acclaimed leader of democracy around the World but is doing so little to sustain the ideology of democracy in practice around the World. The fall of Afghanistan government that was supported and erected by the USA and its allies confirms the fear that although USA talks so much about democracy around the World but in practice the political elites do not care whatever becomes of Countries far away from it.
A piece by BRUCE DRAKE published Dec. 4, 2013 spoke to these facts as follows: “U.S. political leaders have long spoken of America’s commitment to democracy as pivotal to its role in the world, whether it was Woodrow Wilson declaring in 1917 that the U.S. must enter World War I to make the world “safe for democracy,” or George W. Bush saying, on his re-election in 2004, “It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture.”
The reporter said that more recently, President Joe Biden told world leaders gathered virtually at the Munich Security Conference, “We must demonstrate that democracy can still deliver for our people in this changed world.”
But in recent decades, the reporter said, promoting democracy in other nations has not been a top priority for the American public. A Pew Research Center survey conducted in early February found that just 20% of U.S. adults cited this as a top foreign policy objective, putting it at the bottom of the list of 20 topics polled.
The reporter continued: “This post draws on a survey of 2,596 U.S. adults conducted Feb. 1-7, 2021, for a report on Americans’ foreign policy attitudes, including their confidence in President Joe Biden’s handling of world affairs. Everyone who took part is a member of Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. Read more about the ATP’s methodology.” The USA is not alone I this show of shame in Afghanistan because even the UK and other Western powers working as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization similarly abandoned Afghanistan.
Few weeks back, we were regaled with the soft tissues of diplomatic lies from the United Kingdom that: “Britain will not abandon Afghanistan, Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed on Friday, even as he confirmed the imminent withdrawal of most embassy staff in the face of a rapid Taliban onslaught.”
A reporter from France then wrote thus: “With the Islamists seizing control of more Afghan cities, Britain is deploying around 600 troops to help evacuate its roughly 3,000 nationals from the country, and Johnson said the “vast bulk” of remaining embassy staff in Kabul would return to the UK.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw US troops, forcing NATO allies to follow suit, “leaves a very big problem on the ground” and handed momentum to the Taliban.
He predicted it would benefit Al-Qaeda, who were given safe haven by the Taliban before the September 11, 2001 attacks that prompted the West’s 20-year involvement in Afghanistan.
Johnson, however, said after convening crisis talks with senior cabinet colleagues that the West retained a strategic interest in backing the beleaguered Kabul government.
“I think we have got to be realistic about the power of the UK or any power to impose a military solution — a combat solution — in Afghanistan,” he told reporters.
“What we certainly can do is work with all our partners in the region, around the world, who share an interest with us in preventing Afghanistan once again becoming a breeding ground for terror.
“What we must do now is not turn our backs on Afghanistan,” he stressed, adding that Britain could be “extremely proud” of its role in the country, especially in advancing girls’ education — gains that are now imperilled by the Taliban advance.
The prime minister added that UK interior ministry officials were flying out to Kabul to help Afghan interpreters who served with the UK military to apply for resettlement in Britain.
Many of the translators have complained of British foot-dragging, and say they now fear for their lives given the risk of Taliban reprisals. (Source: France 24).”
Also, as a professional Journalist, I am tempted to do this analysis going by one of the terms we use in Journalism Practice known as Afghanistanism meaning to write on issues that affects other nations that are so far away even when in my own backyard, we have similar afflictions.
This above journalistic cliché pales into insignificance when we embark on a thoroughly rational and philosophical appraisal of the collapse of the elected civilian administration put in place only few years ago under an election that was monitored by the International Community.
Indeed, what has just happened in Afghanistan which is seen as a disgraceful withdrawal of troops by the United States and her allies, can also be equated with a flight of common sense.
How do we begin to discuss the issue that the United States and NATO entered Afghanistan over two decades ago with the mandate of taming the Al-Queada terrorists that were hibernating in Afghanistan and sheltered by Taliban’s from where they bombed USA on September 11th 2001, but two decades after, the foreign troops withdrew hurriedly and it became clear that the training and equipping of Afghan government forces for which the West spent a lot of resources and even lost many soldiers, yet this so -called Afghan government Soldiers surrendered to Taliban’s within two weeks.
What forces were sent in to Afghanistan two decades ago if one may ask? The answer is as follows: “The US invaded in October 2001 to oust the Taliban, whom they said were harbouring Osama Bin Laden and other al-Qaeda figures linked to the 9/11 attacks.
US troop numbers grew as Washington poured in billions of dollars to fight a Taliban insurgency and fund reconstruction, peaking at about 110,000 in 2011.
Official data may not always include special operations forces, and other temporary units.
Other countries were also part of the foreign troop presence in the country, including other members of the Nato alliance. But the US had by far the biggest single contingent.
A media reporter asked What is the Nato defence alliance?Nato formally ended its combat mission in December 2014, but kept a 13,000-strong force there to help train Afghan forces and support counter-terrorism operations.
There have also been significant numbers of private security contractors in Afghanistan. This included as of the last quarter of 2020 more than 7,800 US citizens, according to US Congress research.
How much money has been spent that has all but lost with this not so well thought out withdrawal by the USA and NATO? The vast majority of spending in Afghanistan has come from the US.
Between 2010 to 2012, when the US for a time had more than 100,000 soldiers in the country, the cost of the war grew to almost $100bn a year, according to US government figures.
As the US military shifted its focus away from offensive operations and concentrated more on training up Afghan forces, costs fell sharply.
By 2018 annual expenditure was around $45bn, a senior Pentagon official told the US Congress that year.
According to the US Department of Defense, the total military expenditure in Afghanistan (from October 2001 until September 2019) had reached $778bn.
In addition, the US state department – along with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and other government agencies – spent $44bn on reconstruction projects.
That brings the total cost – based on official data – to $822bn between 2001 and 2019, but it doesn’t include any spending in Pakistan, which the US uses as a base for Afghan-related operations.
According to a Brown University study in 2019, which has looked at war spending in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, the US had spent around $978bn (their estimate also includes money allocated for the 2020 fiscal year). These are verifiable facts compiled by a globally recognised media house in the UK.
As I put pen to paper, I watched in agonising astonishment as the United Nations Secretary appear to be begging these Taliban coupists to respect international obligations and human rights. How can you expect rebels and terrorists to adhere to international best practices?
In Afghanistan we now see the death of common-sense and the obituary of the United Nations.
*EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and was a federal commissioner at the National Human Rights commission of Nigeria.