I won’t drag this post out because I’m not any sort of military or political expert that is qualified to go in-depth on such matters.
Also, I may put out a controversial viewpoint or two, but that is in keeping with the no-pulled-punches tone of this lil’ blog.
So, unless you’ve been hiding under a rock (actually a LOT more likely in this age of isolation), you will have seen/heard that the Taliban have re-taken control of the country of Afghanistan in a ridiculously short space of time with no real opposition or fighting. This happens immediately after the withdrawal of the last of the US/British military presence in the region, twenty years after they first went in to push out the likes of the Taliban and Al Qaeda and to create a safer environment that wasn’t a breeding ground for terrorist organisations that could use Afghanistan as a base to launch international attacks.
The news media is riding a wave of shock this morning, as people try to come to terms with just how rapid this takeover was. Various defence officials have been interviewed and the finger-pointing has already began, with interviewers demanding to know if this is a failure for the US and British governments, and what they are going to do about it.
Well, here comes my first controversial opinion because I say we do nothing about this at all. Our governments and armed forces should never have gotten involved with Afghanistan in the first place for multiple reasons. Firstly, the West shouldn’t be interfering with other countries and overthrowing their governments to install others who are deemed to be more agreeable or cooperative. I wonder when those in power will realise that maybe the reason we experience so many terrorist attacks and hatred directed towards us is because we waltzed into their backyards in the first place and presumed to tell them what to do. Pretty sure that wouldn’t go down so well if the roles were to be reversed, would it? But perhaps our more advanced nations and more technologically-capable military forces give leaders a superiority complex whereby they feel justified in meddling in the affairs of far-off countries while it absolutely would not be permitted the other way round…
Don’t get me wrong, I know that the likes of Al Qaeda will still launch attacks at Western cities regardless but there has to be ways (in this age of advanced surveillance/intelligence) of combatting terrorism without destabilising entire countries and committing our armed forced to decades of security detail.
I often like to say that we, as a race, give ourselves far too much credit when it comes to intelligence and learning from mistakes. History is littered with the failures of supposedly superior, better-resourced nations when they go to war, in a country like Afghanistan, against guerrilla fighters who know the terrain and are prepared to die for their independence. The Soviets failed in Afghanistan. The US famously failed in Vietnam (another war that involved meddling in foreign politics and installing new leaders). And – more recently – we have the Iraq fiasco, which resulted in the birth of ISIS and a series of horrific terrorist attacks on home soil, and more war in the Middle East. I’d like to believe that Afghanistan will finally teach us to mind our own business and stop trying to police the world, but I doubt it. I only have to look to Libya where our Prime Minister at the time sent the RAF (along with other NATO forces) to bomb the country and assist in the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi…before doing nothing else and allowing Libya to devolve into a lawless terrorist breeding ground.
Obviously, there are a lot of angry people who are upset at the current events in Afghanistan and the Western military withdrawal as they see all the military sacrifice, lost lives, and billions spent on investing into Afghan security as a collossal waste of time, as well as an affront to the lives of the loved ones who died in combat. I’m not going to dispute that as I have no right to comment on the losses of others or how they view what’s happening right now as a result.
But what I would say is that returning to Afghanistan and needlessly throwing away more lives in order to justify those already lost just doesn’t seem like the right thing to do. One of the worst things we can do is to push on with lost causes or commitments to lengthy, grindy wars just to save face and say that we didn’t give up. Sometimes, it’s better to know when to quit and walk away – not out of weakness, but out of intelligence. Some say that we should stay until the “job is done”. The job will never be done. The West will always be unwelcome occupiers, veiling political ambitions behind the guise of protecting civilians. They don’t want us there, and no amount of military training or investment on our part will ever create security forces that will fight with as much passion or conviction as the likes of the Taliban who will literally fight to the death for freedom as they see it. Getting involved with these countries is a commitment to stay forever, because a) the enemy simply bides their time and waits for the West to grow weary and leave and b) new governments and security forces grow reliant on the presence of Western troops and equipment. We already saw this happen in Iraq a few years ago when Iraqi security forces ran away from advancing ISIS forces – again, after years of training and investment from the West.
I absolutely don’t agree with the way that many Middle Eastern countries operate with backwards laws and outdated, barbaric attitudes towards women and homosexuality but we have to realise that these aren’t our countries, and it isn’t down to us to parachute into every part of the globe that persecutes these groups and overthrow governments left, right, and centre until the world conforms to our vision of how people should behave and what views they should hold. More to point, lets not act like we live in the Garden of Eden ourselves because Western society has a LOT of societal problems of its own, they’re just not as obvious and pressing as physical, military violence.
And don’t get me started on those screaming for troops to return to Afghanistan and take back the country, because I’m fairly confident that those shouting the loudest are keyboard warriors that wouldn’t want to go and do such a dangerous job themselves. They want others to go and put their lives at risk for the sake of their outrage and that’s utter bollocks as far as I’m concerned.
Those are just my thoughts. As I say, I’m no expert and could well be completely wrong, but I’ve always maintained that we shouldn’t be getting involved in the internal affairs of foreign countries. Fighting back against terrorist organisations that pose a direct and immediate threat to Western shores…yes, but we need to ensure that our actions don’t also involve destabilising entire regions, leaving power vaccuums behind, or committing our forces to decades of hanging on. We also need to stop presuming that we are right to walk into other peoples countries and start making changes, as it’s only us that seem to suffer for it in the long term.