It is hard to imagine the great courage that it took to defy the Taliban, a merciless enemy.
Kabul has fallen. The final moments of a bitter and confusing chapter, ending with Western forces saving their own skin while leaving those below to their fate.
Women, human rights activist, artists, loyal soldiers and journalists. All who dared to dream. Now facing death, persecution or exile. Bright, beautiful flames of change, snuffed out.
British defence secretary Ben Wallace in a tearful interview admitted ‘some people won’t get back’.
A stronger enemy
Rather than undermine the Taliban, Western forces have likely made them a much stronger foe.
- Billions of dollars worth of weapons and vehicles seized.
- Their opponents exposed and left vulnerable.
Perhaps worse, they have scored a stunning victory against the strongest military alliance in history.
The wrong message to broadcast in such uncertain times.
‘You have the watches but we have the time’A Taliban proverb.
The Allied forces did not just invade a country. They made promises. It is cruel to have given so much hope of a better tomorrow to so many people to simply abandon them in their hour of need.
All due to an arbitrary political decision by a tired old president looking for an easy win with disenfranchised voters.
Many Afghans now left stranded, stunned and in terror of what awaits them, while western forces disappear like thieves into the night.
‘The Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight’‘cut and run’ Joe Biden
What Biden did not want to share is that the allied forces pulled all logistical and air support almost overnight.
They confiscated GPS, night vision systems and battlefield intelligence, leaving the Afghan army blind.
Their morale crushed, some soldiers fled but their special forces fought to the last.
The story of a soldier
Special Forces Commando Sohrab Azimi, trained in America. His squad surrounded by Taliban hordes.
They fought till their ammunition ran out. He called in air support that never came.
They were forced to surrender and were executed in cold blood.
Biden’s words are an insult to those who put their trust in the allied forces and made the ultimate sacrifice.
Is there any hope?
A seed planted may not sprout when intended, but it is still there and will grow when the conditions are right.
Let’s consider what was achieved in the 20 year military occupation of Afghanistan:
- America spent $133 billion for reconstruction, aid programs and afghan security forces. Adjusted for inflation, it’s more than the Martial Plan that rebuilt Europe after WW2.
- Since 2001, student enrolment grew from 900,000 male students to more than 9.5 million students, 39% of whom are girls, in 2020.
- Literacy rates for Afghans 15 and older have increased from 31.4% in 2011 to 43% in 2018.
- Air pollution has improved due to less reliance on diesel generators in cities.
- 10,000 miles of roads were built.
- Electrical Infrastructure greatly improved. Kabul has 24 hour electricity.
- Infant mortality and general health have improved.
- 67% of Afghans have access to drinking water over 20% a decade ago.
The seer vastness of the investment is astonishing for such a poor, mostly tribal country.
What impatient Western leaders fail to learn is that the freedoms and development of the West was hard won by incredible struggle, tragedy, innovation and enlightenment over hundreds of years.
It can’t be given by the edge of a sword and rushed through by a pile of money in a mere handful.