X Close

Can the Taliban bring peace? America couldn’t stabilise Afghanistan — perhaps its enemies can

Afghan Taliban fighters in 2020. (Wali Sabawoon/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Afghan Taliban fighters in 2020. (Wali Sabawoon/NurPhoto via Getty Images)


August 16, 2021   8 mins

It is unnecessary here to labour the main point about the rapid collapse of the American state-building effort in Afghanistan: that the defeat of the global superpower at the hands of a poorly armed militia shows that the governing class of the United States is, on a bipartisan level, incompetent at almost every level, captive to its own ideological delusions and unable to apprehend objective reality, let alone reshape it.

It is more dispiriting, from a British perspective, to realise that our own elites are, if anything, even worse. Observing the efforts of backbench Conservative MPs to summon up interest in a crusade to defend the Kabul government’s writ on a country where its own regional governors and security forces are either surrendering en masse to the Taliban or actively defecting to their side is concerning enough. When we see our defence minister doing the same, we should be worried.

As I begin writing this article, Kabul’s sphere of influence barely extends to the city limits; whether it will extend that far by the time I’ve finished is doubtful. President Ghani has fled the country; the Taliban are inside the presidential palace. There is no Afghan state left to defend. There is no Afghan army to support. And even if there were, given the British Army’s total inability to pacify one single Afghan province, Helmand, with the constant support of American air power that will no longer exist by the end of this month, it is far beyond our capacity even to dream of doing so. It is no good saying something must be done, after twenty failed years of trying everything. The Afghan war is over, and we lost.

Equally, the meaningless noises being emitted by Labour’s leadership that somehow the UK can gather key stakeholders around a table and hammer out a solution that is distinct from Taliban victory are simply gibberish of the highest order. The Taliban is already doing so, negotiating the surrender of the Kabul government’s military and administrative functionaries through the mediation of tribal elders and religious clerics, and are doing so far more effectively than Lisa Nandy will ever be capable of.

Indeed, the central fact of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan over the past two weeks, under-emphasised though it may be by the solipsistic tone of Western discourse, is precisely how little fighting has been involved. The Taliban has taken over provinces one after the other with barely a shot being fired. When even long-time anti-Taliban leaders like the veteran warlord Ismail Khan, who once ruled the western region of Herat like a medieval king, are meekly submitting to their rule, or even being deployed to Kabul to negotiate the Government’s surrender on the Taliban’s behalf, the ability of even such diplomatic titans as Starmer’s front bench to change the outcome of the war must be firmly ruled out.

If anything, the nature of the Taliban takeover offers glimpses of how they may approach their second period of rule. Their emphasis on seizing power, in these final stages, through negotiation rather than open conflict, accords well with traditional Afghan, particularly Pashtun, systems of dispute settlement.

In fact, the nature of the transfer of power elicits many parallels with the newish social-scientific sub-discipline of rebel governance studies, which aims to unsettle the Hobbesian norms dominant in International Relations theory which hold that only states can provide stable governance, and that non-state actors necessarily leave anarchy and violence in their wake.

This is not so: a burgeoning crop of academic literature focusing on rebel governance in Latin America, Africa, South Asia and the Middle East highlights how, in fact, non-state actors across the world win popular support or at least acquiescence through a variety of methods, including the provision of services such as justice and dispute resolution, medical services, sharing of power through local government and appeals to traditional or other forms of moral authority not open to either the central state or external intervening powers.

As it happens, I’m currently engaged in PhD research looking at rebel governance in Northeast Syria manifest by the Kurdish-led, radical Left-wing Democratic Union Party. The initial Taliban effort, despite their coming from entirely the opposite ideological pole, strongly suggests the utility of this approach in divining what Taliban 2.0 rule may look like for Afghanistan. Firstly, as already noted, the Taliban’s recourse to mediation through pillars of traditional moral and political authority like the clergy and tribal leaders in seizing power supports observations social scientists have derived from fieldwork in Afghanistan.

The counterinsurgency, or COIN doctrine, that so enamoured American generals and their British military hangers-on in the early and mid-2000s, held that external intervening powers could “lend” legitimacy to the embattled central state through infrastructural and other projects, which led, in Afghanistan’s case, to ambitious and ultimately fruitless showpiece schemes like the British Army’s escorting of equipment for a hydroelectric dam across Taliban-held Helmand.

Yet fieldwork in Afghanistan especially shows the precise opposite: the dependency on external powers taints the central government it is intended to support in the eyes of traditional rural populations, who are generally unsupportive of foreign occupations. COIN doctrine is based on a fundamental misapprehension of the nature of political legitimacy: local actors, embedded within and drawn from the ranks of local populations, will almost always be able to outcompete both the central state and even the most well-meaning and idealistic of colonial administrators in the battle for hearts and minds.

Already, the Taliban have issued numerous proclamations assuring the administrative functionaries of what we must now call the former government of amnesty: captured soldiers are being released, surrendered regional governors escorted back to Kabul, and bank workers, street cleaners, school teachers and traffic police told to resume their work — with some exceptions. Female bank tellers have, apparently, been ordered home in Herat, and replaced with their male relatives; female school teachers told they are only allowed to continue working if they don the chador, and their female pupils the hijab. Taliban governance in its second iteration is likely to be as restrictive for women as it was in its first.

This does not necessarily dampen the group’s legitimacy across the country; indeed, in the conservative rural provinces it may well enhance it. Yet in any case, the United States did not enter Afghanistan to advance the rights of women: if that was the West’s overriding concern, it would not have helped topple the previous communist regime, for whom gender equality was a major cause.

The cause of advancing gender equality in Kabul or Herat or Mazar-i-Sharif is a noble one, yet if the downstream consequence of enabling women’s rights in the cities is CIA-backed death squads murdering teenage boys in their village homes at night, the moral calculus is less clear. Biden, like Trump before him, has made the conclusion that the costs are not worth the benefits. Whether, once Taliban rule is secured, both international and local pressure can salvage some of the gains made for Afghan women is an open question  There is, at this point, no other alternative policy in any case. We shall see.

This is not to underplay the brutality the Taliban are capable of. Working in Herat in 2014, I met and interviewed harmless Afghan peasants who had their fingers amputated for the crime of voting in the country’s democratic elections, part of the Taliban campaign to dissuade ordinary Afghans, through fear, of engaging with the rival central government. Already we have seen Taliban fighters summarily execute members of government-backed militias they accuse of atrocities against captured Taliban, and they have announced that there will be no mercy for either the country’s erstwhile president Ghani or the Uzbek warlord Marshal Dostum, both of whom, in any case, seem to have already fled the country.

Yet as the rebel governance literature shows, most violence occurs when control of a country is contested between two forces of more or less equal reach: once firm dominance is established by either party, local legitimacy tends to be achieved by amnesties in exchange for submitting to the victor’s authority, a process which we see occur in civil war after civil war. In any case, it must be noted that the measured application of brutality as often affords local legitimacy as it erodes it. The Taliban began, after all, as a local protest movement against the sexual abuse of young boys by warlord militia commanders, who they then hanged from tank barrels to local acclaim.

But the Taliban doesn’t just seek local legitimacy: for their rule to thrive they also need international legitimacy, and though it is very early days, much of their recent output seems designed to secure it. They have already reassured both China and Russia that they have no desire to export disorder beyond their borders, and are likely to be rewarded with recognition, and even investment, once they take Kabul.

For the Taliban to secure recognition from the European Union, which is keen to either continue or resume the deportation of Afghan asylum seekers from within its borders, it will be necessary to avoid the ethnic and sectarian persecutions that marred their previous term of rule. Already, we have seen the Taliban assure Shia worshippers that they will be allowed to worship openly under Taliban protection, and have appointed an ethnic Hazara governor for the Shia ethnic Hazara Bamiyan region, where they have taken control, so far, without firing a shot.

Their seizure of power first focussed on the the Dari and Uzbek-speaking strongholds of the Northern Alliance that had long resisted their rule, with the result that they now control more of the country than they did on 9/11. Minorities with long histories of resistance against and persecution by the Taliban will naturally fear what will come next: yet if the price of international recognition from external powers is delegation of local governance to ethnic minority leaders — as we are already seeing — and the avoidance of senseless killing for the sake of it, then there is every chance that this is what will result.

The present-day Taliban has already shown itself as a sophisticated and competent diplomatic actor on both the world and local stage: it is far from certain that they are so wedded to killing that they will forego the lavish reconstruction money certain to head their way if they can avoid it.

As for recognition by the United States, it will surely come in time: the Taliban were welcome diplomatic interlocutors before 9/11, and their campaign against their mutual enemy the Islamic State, which will now be pursued with all the American weaponry they have captured from the collapsing Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police, will eventually make them a useful, if distant de facto partner.

It is strange to see an American foreign policy establishment which urges American engagement or even support for Syrian jihadist factions ideologically indistinct from the Taliban so distraught at the outcome in Afghanistan. If a qualified outreach can be made to even former al-Qaeda factions in Syria, including ones led by veterans of the Afghan jihad deployed by the al-Qaeda leader himself, on the basis that they promise not to attack the West, then it is difficult to see why the same logic cannot be applied further from the West’s shores.

Whether or not the Taliban will continue to provide a haven for the al-Qaeda leadership is another question: but America’s notional ally Pakistan already does, with little censure. In any case, as in northwestern Syria, the United States retains the capability to assassinate senior al-Qaeda figures through carefully targeted drone strikes with minimal collateral damage, and with far less costs involved than in the 20-year occupation of Afghanistan.

So, at this stage, it looks like we are observing the dying days, even hours, of the American phase of the Afghan War. We must hope that the end of Afghanistan’s more than forty years of civil conflict are also drawing to a close. Afghanistan will still need Western support for reconstruction, the financial lures of which ought to be used to salvage what can be salvaged of the genuine advances for human rights made over the past two decades across the government-controlled portions of the country.

Whether the Taliban leadership, in Doha or in Pakistan, can maintain effective enough control of their fighters on the ground, buoyed by victory, to prevent a repeat of the urban fighting that destroyed Kabul in the 1990s is now the most pressing question; whether the assurances of amnesty and cooperation the Taliban leadership are giving its defeated opponents can be trusted, or whether they will revert to totalitarian excess, is the next.

Yet if the initial signs of Taliban political outreach to its conquered enemy are sustained over time, then the results might be similar to the 2001 offer they made to hand over Bin Laden for trial and engage in power-sharing negotiations, which the Americans rebuffed. Perhaps some Western leader, somewhere, will learn something from all this: from the evidence so far, that remains doubtful. But either way, whatever happens in Afghanistan now is up to Afghans to decide.


Aris Roussinos is an UnHerd columnist and a former war reporter.

arisroussinos

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

90 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago

And if Aris Roussinos thinks the Taliban will rule Afghanistan effectively without imposing a reign of terror and taking the country back to the middle ages, he is living in cloud cuckoo land. The Taliban will be effective in exerting total control over anybody who opposes their repressive way of life, with endless executions and blood running through the streets.

Tim Bartlett
Tim Bartlett
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

I’m not so sure. The Taliban appear to be brutal, but not indiscriminate. It’s one of the pillars of their success, in my eyes.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Tim Bartlett

So if I don’t wear a niqab, or if I read a book, or go to work I KNOW I will be beaten to within an inch of my life, if not killed? A pillar of success?

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago

Should have fought harder then.

dom2454
dom2454
2 years ago

Who should have fought harder? What, precisely, do you know about the ROE imposed on the forces by their political masters?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

“female teachers told they are only allowed to continue working if they don the chador, and their female pupils the hijab.”

This is pretty liberal for Afghanistan – I thought it said Burka yesterday – but if just the chador and hijab things have moved a long way. The Niqab is Arabian, the Afghani thing is the Burqa, which is much more extreme as it covers from ground to top of head, and eyes (mesh screen) and hands, arms , legs – so the Chador (Iranian) is much more Liberal. This is very much progress from the first time Talib got in power.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Can’t be sure what the Taliban will require at this point. Herat may be a reflection on one boss, who know what the real bosses will decide. They have been busy moving their army.

dom2454
dom2454
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

The people of Afghanistan are called Afghans. Yeah, the chador is so much more liberal. Instead of the mesh the women are forced to look through a Zorro-like mask with barely enough of an opening for their eyelashes to clear when they blink.

Tim Bartlett
Tim Bartlett
2 years ago

Yes, success, the kind that demolishes 20 years of work in a week. They worked like the Viet Cong or Hizbollah with similar results. Why not at least understand and respect how they did it? One doesn’t have to subscribe to their credo.

Edward Jones
EJ
Edward Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Tim Bartlett

Discriminating in their brutality? Oh, that’s fine then. I pity their womenfolk.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Tim Bartlett

“The Taliban began, after all, as a local protest movement against the sexual abuse of young boys by warlord militia commanders, who they then hanged from tank barrels to local acclaim.”

Christina Lamb, an authority on the origins of the Taliban said sexual abuse against themselves in the madrases they were schooled at was so ubiquitous they became very mean and angry from it – so they did not like this abuse….

dom2454
dom2454
2 years ago
Reply to  Tim Bartlett

They are brutal, indiscriminate monsters. Maybe you, too, should take a field trip to Kabul.

Aidan Twomey
AT
Aidan Twomey
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

This “rule by acquiescence” that Roussinos postulates is going to be tested by the fact that Afghanistan is the youngest country in the world: its median age is about 19, meaning most of the country were born since the US invasion. Half the country have never experienced Taliban rule. I have no idea whether the youth of Afghanistan have enjoyed their upbringing or not, but if they have then the Taliban will only be able to impose their legitimacy by force.

Frederick B
Frederick B
2 years ago
Reply to  Aidan Twomey

“…the youngest country in the world.” Back in 2015 I noticed a mention by the Office for National Statistics (OFS) that Afghan women had by far the highest birth rate of all ethnic groups in Britain, but as the numbers of Afghans in our country were then so few, the births were insignificant as a proportion of the total.
But things seem to have changed. Quite recently, the OFS announced that among foreign born fathers of children born in England and Wales, Afghan men were now among the top ten.
There will now be a flood of refugees which, according to Sky, may amount to millions. The usual suspects are already urging that “legal routes” be found for them to come to Britain, and Boris is said to be considering ways in which this can best be done.
So we now have an unmissable opportunity to repair our own collapsing birth rate by importing this explosion of fertility into our own country. What could possibly go wrong?

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Frederick B

That’s what worries me too.

Jonathan Bagley
Jonathan Bagley
2 years ago
Reply to  Frederick B

All political parties support a Ponzi scheme of ever increasing population, currently 4-500K a year, 300K from net migration. Until there is a complete change of mindset, we are doomed to an ever decreasing decreasing quality of life. Intolerable road congestion and huge housing developments in unsuitable areas. We should begin with the requirement that the population stays constant, as in much of Europe and Japan, and work from there. I for one, would rather have a seat on my train, than the money to order my evening meal from my sofa.

Jon Redman
HJ
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

They’ll probably end up approximating Saudi Arabia but without the oil.

Mirax Path
Mirax Path
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

The joys of a sharia state. Afghanis by and large are wedded to the idea of a perfect islamic state (PEW surveys have consistently shown this) and maybe just need to be less hypocritical about themselves?

Edward De Beukelaer
EB
Edward De Beukelaer
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Dear Johan, dear All,
it is very nice of you for being worried about the future of the population in Afghanistan, I am sure there will not be a western democracy set up with equal rights for all tomorrow. But thinking ‘we can go in a make things right’ (right according to our views) with the military is very short sighted. (only benefits those in industry)
Sadly, change happens over time with much suffering of the population, but real and lasting change can only come from within the (a) population. What we can and must do is maintain as best possible relationship in such a way that the population can evolve more to a society where there is justice and stability. That requires the art of all relationships we shall have with the country: from individual relationships to international relationships.
In the mean time, mainstream journalists will still bleat out horror stories so we keep watching the ‘programs’ they want to sell us

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

The original plan was to maintain some sort of presence which would be whittled down. The plan was not to leave sophisticated weapons for the enemy and just leave en masse – not even giving time for refugees (including locals who will be targeted) to be processed and foreign citizens to leave.
The Sleepy Joe Biden administration must hang its head in shame and embarrassment.

Last edited 2 years ago by Lesley van Reenen
Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago

Agree. It’s so dumbfoundingly stupid I wonder if it wasn’t planned that way.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

It may hand Afghanistan to China, which seems the Biden policy on every issue.

Hardee Hodges
HH
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

China wants the minerals and will be quite happy to work their new local workers to death to get those materials. They govern via corruption and laugh at their partners.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

The lack of planning and foresight may be a feature not a bug. Many ideologues with zero experience in private commercial life make bad stew.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

Senile Biden had one criteria for appointing experts – race and sex. The head of all Military is totally about CRT, Wokism, Trans rights, women rights, and the troops spend most training time on this and not fighting – they flew a Rainbow flag (I heard, may be a lie) at the Kabul Embassy – in a land where homosexuality is illegal.

Biden did this! He was the drunk Captain of the ship which sank by sheer stupidity. His handling of the Border is the only thing in recent history which is as insanely Harmful. The man is a senile puppet with stupid Marxist, sex and race obsessed fools, advising!

Jerry Jay Carroll
JC
Jerry Jay Carroll
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

They are not advising, they are running the show. Whether Joe is aware of this or not when he goes to bed early is an open question.

Jerry Jay Carroll
Jerry Jay Carroll
2 years ago

Joe is not sleepy, his brain is mostly gone. Some enemy in the White House released that photo of the old man sitting alone at the huge table trying to understand what they were saying on the big screen at Camp David.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

“accords well with traditional Afghan, particularly Pashtun, systems of dispute settlement.”

You all really need to read a few of the links embedded – this one is fascinating….

“”Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit26Women, on the other hand, were far more positive about the way in which the Taliban resolved disputes; they saw the Taliban’s particular form of quick and brutal dispute resolution as maintaining the peace, as the quotations in Box 14 demonstrate. They make clear that the Taliban’s ability to maintain peace and resolve disputes quickly appealed to these women, especially in comparison to the time of the Mujahiddin, which is more known for the abuse of women than that of the Taliban..Box 14: Women’s perspectives on Taliban dispute resolutionDuring the Taliban time all the people were happy because they were afraid of the Taliban. They didn’t fight with each other. If they fought with each other the Taliban resolved it very well. During the Taliban time there was justice. During the Taliban time there were no robberies and no lootings… During the Taliban time if anyone committed a robbery their hands would be cut off. During the Taliban time if someone killed someone the Taliban would kill the murderer. If someone committed adultery they stoned the couple. People took their disputes to the government; if someone was guilty they, the Taliban, beat them until the person confessed and told the truth. The Taliban didn’t eat people’s rights. A person who dared to give a bribe would be imprisoned. — A woman in her late-twenties who lives in the Shinwaar village speaking during a focus groupAt that time, whoever complained about a dispute, they [the Taliban] would arrest the person and punish them and after one or two days the problem was resolved. But now it takes a long time to resolve disputes. — A woman in her mid-forties who lives in the Shinwaar village speaking during a focus groupThe Taliban were good people; they were Muslims and they didn’t ask for bribes. The Taliban brought all the people together for prayers. They were with the law with people and they were harmless for people. They punished those people who were guilty. During that time there was no murder—no one could make disputes. All the people were afraid of the Taliban. If people had a dispute then the Taliban would call both sides and they would beat the person who made the mistake until he said to the Taliban that he had done it. — White-hair who lives in the Shinwaar village speaking during a focus groupPeople could resolve their disputes very easily with the Taliban and the people could not continue their dispute for a long time or take revenge. I mean, if there was a murder case, the people couldn’t fight or kill each other. The government [Taliban] was moving in all the villages and if they had information about a dispute they were taking both sides to investigate. They would resolve the dispute according to the law of the Taliban. People were accepting the decisions of the Taliban. For example there was a rule about robbery. The Taliban would cut robbers’ hands off. It was a very good rule, and the people did not rob. I think the time of force was a good time and the people became peaceful. — A woman in her forties who lives in the Muhmand village speaking during a focus group””

In a land where authority uses every problem to extract bribes and sell justice, and more, the Taliban were known for being fair – harsh.

Last edited 2 years ago by Galeti Tavas
Keith Merrick
Keith Merrick
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Just out of interest, what makes you so sure? Because the BBC says so? If not the BBC, where do you get your Roussinos-trumping info from?

Peter Mott
Peter Mott
2 years ago
Reply to  Keith Merrick

I think it is from a link that Roussinos provided.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

What the taliban victory means is obvious. The likes of boko haram and isis will again have state level funding, training camps, hideaways, refuge and so on. It is in the first instance very bad news for Pakistan, India, the steppe countries, Russia, and the ME.
There will be power struggles internally with some who will want some investment and some engagement with the rest of the world. They will *invariably* lose out internally – because that is the inherent logic of islamic militancy, it’s raison d’etre if you like. Four decades of the mullahs in Iran for example prove that point – and the taliban are far less politically sophisticated and far more bought-in into islamic militancy. The taliban don’t care if infant mortality increases or women spend a lifetime as baby machines – it is looked on as gods will. Why is this not obvious to absolutely everyone? Why are people attributing rationality to the taliban? Why is *anyone* optimistic they won’t export violence?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

“the governing class of the United States is, on a bipartisan level, incompetent at almost every level, captive to its own ideological delusions and unable to apprehend objective reality, let alone reshape it.”

This is the case, USA had one man who was supreme in his ability to manage reconstruction – MacArthur, and much of his genius was he was brought up there, he understood that different peoples have different Realities. That the difference in culture be so much as to not just be ‘foreign’, but another reality entirely – and You have to be the one to bridge it. You have to understand your reality is not the ‘Right One’ and they are not just like you – but to ignorant to know it yet.

This is my feelings on it all, it goes back to President Ike, and his final speech, one of the most important speeches ever made. “”In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.””

MY memories of the timing is old, but I recall about 1965 the King’s cousin began a sort of parliament, changing from the King and his group of elders to limited monarchy. The Cousin was socialist, and in, 1973 he took power wile the king was in Italy – making Afghanistan Socialist republic. The people did not much go for this and by 1979 he was being overtaken by revolution, so invited Russia in (he had become their puppet) to quell the revolution. So Russia was in – BUT INVITED, by the actual government, and ones with lines of traditional aristocracy. The story is some of the first thing they did was open girl’s schools – and so on.

Russia had long experience in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and so on – they were good at dams and hydro, roads, mines, pipelines, agriculture, they could have likely done well there – at least compared to any other possibility.

But NO – we were in a cold war with Russia and this was the perfect chance to bankrupt them. AND make billions for the military-industrial complex Politico/Fat Cats. So we began the deal with Saudi, ISI, and the Mujahideen, and sent in weapons and money – and the Saudis made the Taliban in the North West Frontier with Madrassas… And so we bankrupted USSR, really once we gave the Afghani Stinger missiles it was over…

Then the Talib overtook the utterly corrupt War Lords we funded to fight USSR, the Taliban are Pashtuwali, (Salifist, if I may, they were funded by Whabbi KSA, Dobandi Sunni). They were the Traditional Code of the Pashtun People going to back before Islam, Very Moral (just not exactly the same as our morals) Very Traditional.

So we went in, and millions dead, and really it was to have a war which would bankrupt USSR, and fatten the Fat Cats back home, wild stuff – and when the Talib won, and Osama was demanded to be handed over by us – I recommend you look up ‘Pashtunwali’, the code of the Pashtun, and Hospitality is Primo to their code, it is all ancient Honour based custom – as they had granted Osama hospitality (refuge) their code, which is more important than life its self, forbade their handing him over – and USA was too stupid to know this (or they could have just sent in 1000 cruse missiles on Osama’s head, and everyone would be happy) and invaded…. FUBAR

So in we went, with tons of the MSM tagging along, who are WOKE Central, so we had to stick around and destroy more to save the girls and women from ‘themselves’ (the way men and women acted is the Pashtun way – and we were going to change them no matter how many had to be killed, Woke requires it) And so it went, almost a Trillion $, and the Woke, the Military Industrial, the NGOs and MSM all had a time of it.

There are 4 powers in the West, the Military Industrial Complex, the Pharma/Medical Complex, The Banksters, and the Tech Moguls.

These are the 4 horsemen, they are up to no good. They are the WEF, you will own nothing and you will be happy….. But another discussion….

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Eisenhower’s farewell address crops up more and more. It isn’t only the comment you quote that is important today but also the part about research funding, which explains why we have the climate change nonsense. Eisenhower had wisdom well beyond any of today’s politicians.

Tom Jennings
Tom Jennings
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

Eisenhower is probably the last US President to have the knowledge, skill, and ability to do the job when he was elected.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Eisenhower was a wise man. An oft overlooked remark in his farewell address is this one about the education-research complex:

The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocation, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet in holding scientific discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

An interesting slant to your interpretation of history. Still it’s somewhat accurate. Better to note that Pastuns rule half, the rest traditional tribes with different histories. The North may be subdued temporarily but expect the Taliban to get shoved out with help from neighbors. Expect the Paki-India feud to re-emerge associated with China’s desire to control India.

Troy MacKenzie
Troy MacKenzie
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Opposing the USSR in Afghanistan was the right thing to do. The USSR was by far and away a greater threat than Islamic Jihadism is today.

J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago

Another excellent article from Aris Roussinos. The possibility that the Taliban will manage to effectively rule Afghanistan without recourse to widespread violence and recrimination is certainly intriguing and only time will tell.
This is the end of a deeply embarrassing chapter for the US, in my opinion. We invaded Iraq and Afghanistan twenty years ago with absolutely no exit strategy. In the meantime, US society has come close to falling apart and is as divided as at any other time in American history. What, precisely, are the “American” values we’re trying to export to Afghanistan and the middle east? Which of these values and cultural norms will lead to a stable society, unlike the chaos we currently see in America? At least the Taliban seem to have a strong identity and value their own culture. The same can no longer be said for American.
I think Biden (and Trump) was right to pull out of Afghanistan. There’s nothing more to be achieved and the US population is sick of the conflict. It’s time for the US to look inward, try to stabilize its own society, and start taking care of its people.

Johann Strauss
JS
Johann Strauss
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Yes the US was right to pull out having stayed there essentially 20 years too long. But when one pulls out one makes sure that one doesn’t leave all one’s materiel behind for the enemy, one takes care of all the Afghanis who helped the US over the 20 year period (by allowing them to come and live in the US), one evacuates all US citizens in an orderly manner well before the enemy has already taken over the airport, and one doesn’t have such restrictive terms of engagement that basically renders the most powerful military on earth completely useless. The fact is that the current administration is a disgrace and is headed by somebody who no longer knows what he’s doing or where he is. Just mind boggling when one looks at the degree of sheer incompetence.

Chris Eaton
Chris Eaton
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Intriging…and completely moronic.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

“I think Biden (and Trump) was right to pull out of Afghanistan”

Well, if you have to get a group down from a mountain you do not just shove them off. Biden is senile, and every appointed expert and admin under him is 100% chosen for sex or race or Woke USA Loathing – and so everything he does is managed by insane Marxist idiots with an agenda so huge they can not even see over the top of it to get the actual picture.

Bart Cypers
Bart Cypers
2 years ago

If there is one major lesson to be drawn from the three decades since the end of the Cold War, it’s that Western managerial elites are unable to imagine a society that functions differently from western societies. It is therefore assumed that what works in one country, and for one group of people, must work elsewhere and everywhere.

Examples of how wrong this is abound:

– The “Wandel durch Handel” phantasm assumed that China’s economic growth would automatically result in liberalism and democracy, because that’s what happened in 19th-century Europe. The Chinese people were predicted to demand greater freedom as they grew richer, and their leaders would wisely accede to such demands. Never mind that Chinese society and history are very different from Europe’s.

– Mass immigration was expected to succeed without much trouble, because cultural differences got conveniently overlooked. “The successful integration of Vietnamese immigrants into French society in the 1970s can serve as a template for the successful integration of Syrian refugees”, The Economist once breezily predicted. Just don’t mind the enormous cultural differences between Vietnam and Syria.

– After the dictatorships of the communist bloc were toppled, democracy took hold fairly easily in most of Eastern Europe. Western leaders therefore assumed that democracy, and all the western values that come with it, would bloom just as easily in places like Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. All these countries needed was a bit of help with the removal of their dictators…

– The EU believed that if Southern European economies became members of the euro zone, their euro membership would act as “external shackles”, “vincoli esterni” that would give local politicians no choice but to transform their ailing economies into orderly run, Scandinavian-style social democracies. After all, in the mind of the technocrat, all that is lacking is the political will to take difficult decisions. Never mind that social norms and business practises in Italy or Greece are very different from those in Sweden of Denmark…

What all these delusions share is a deeply technocratic and malleable view of reality, wherein local culture, history and beliefs play no role whatsoever, and any society can be transformed into any other society by applying the right incentives and crafting the right policies. Unfortunately for our managerial classes, reality tends to have the last word, as it always does.

Last edited 2 years ago by Bart Cypers
Peter Branagan
Peter Branagan
2 years ago
Reply to  Bart Cypers

Mr Cypers I presume you’re content to wallow in your ignorance. But why show it off in public?
With regard to your prejorative comments about the Euro and Southern European states that are members of the Eurogroup, the following animation/graphic shows just how far off the mark you are.

https://www.macrotrends.net/countries/ITA/italy/trade-balance-deficit

Italy, a member of the Euro from day one, has a total annual trade SURPLUS in goods of ~$60billion. The UK has a total trade DEFICIT of ~$30billion.
Without the world’s central financial sewage works (the City) , the £Sterling would be worth about $0.50c and the UK really would be bankrupt.

Last edited 2 years ago by Peter Branagan
hugh bennett
hugh bennett
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Branagan

Mr Branagan you do seem to have a nasty streak but I am willing to think it is just your style of prose. I am sure Mr Cypers is well capable of responding to your rude response, actually why should he stoop to reply to you? Anyway, for my fourpence worth..
Italy may be the seventh largest economy in the world ( i guess), but the country’s social statistics are more in line with those of a developing third-world nation. By almost every standard of measure in sectors from women’s rights and youth employment, Italy scores far below the mark.
Italy has its own “central sewage works” its large, world`s largest luxury goods business, which many believe is inescapably linked with less savoury world business and the 17% underground economy that never sends in a tax return!

Bart Cypers
BC
Bart Cypers
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Branagan

It wasn’t my intention to criticise Italy but to point out that solutions that work in a country like Germany don’t necessarily work in a country with a different culture like Italy.

Italy traditionally had a large manufacturing sector that competed on price and that was buoyed up by frequent devaluations of the Lira that kept its businesses competitive. When Italy became a member of the eurozone, it therefore gave up the most important tool in its fiscal arsenal.

Europe’s leaders were aware that an Italian economy tied to a strong, German-supported euro would be at a competitive disadvantage, but imagined that this would render Italy’s politicians with no choice but to implement the kind of structural reforms that were deemed necessary in the corridors of power in Brussels and Frankfurt.

The labour reforms that then-chancellor Gerhard Schröder enacted in Germany in the early 2000s, the so-called Agenda 2020, served as an template for the sort of measures Italian politicians were expected to undertake. Such reforms, effective though they may have been in Germany, aren’t so easily transposed into an Italian context.

This left Italy stuck between a rock and hard place, unable to make reforms that would have been roundly rejected by a majority of Italians, but equally unable to keep up with Northern Europe as a euro zone member.

Katharine Eyre
KE
Katharine Eyre
2 years ago
Reply to  Bart Cypers

“After the dictatorships of the communist bloc were toppled, democracy took hold fairly easily in most of Eastern Europe.”
Nominally, yes. But the old power structures and networks in places like Slovakia, Czechia etc. still stayed in place. Corruption is still rampant and I don’t even need to mention the backsliding going on in Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria etc. I quote my best friend, who is Slovakian: “after 30 years, I have to say: we just can’t do it. We can’t do democracy.”
Therefore, the assumption that democracy had been installed across Central- and Eastern Europe and therefore would be a doddle in North Africa, the Middle East et. al was always the stuff of cloud cuckoo land.

Last edited 2 years ago by Katharine Eyre
Bart Cypers
BC
Bart Cypers
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Simon Sebag Montefoire makes the same case in the postscript to his biography of the Romanov dynasty: that Russia has always been a “sacred autocracy”, ruled by tsars, or tsar-like figures, some weak and beholden to their boyars and oligarchs, and some strong and ruthless. Not coincidentally, his earlier biography of Stalin is subtitled “the court of the Red Tsar”.

I don’t think countries are incapable of chance, but history and culture make societal change a slow process even at the best of times.

Graeme Cant
Graeme Cant
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Tell your Slovakian friend not to be disheartened. The Americans can’t do democracy either.

Mike Bell
Mike Bell
2 years ago
Reply to  Bart Cypers

Excellent post, Bart. You hit it in the head.
The West is so arrogant: it knows best and that our way is the best for everyone.
A great range of excellent examples which make sense both individually and collectively.
Keep writing.

Prashant Kotak
PK
Prashant Kotak
2 years ago

“…Taliban has already shown itself as a sophisticated and competent diplomatic actor on both the world and local stage: it is far from certain that they are so wedded to killing that they will forego the lavish reconstruction money…”

Oh, boy. Not agreeing with the, um, tone, of this analysis. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there was nothing else to be done, the aftermath of the entire two decade engagement with radical islamism in the wake of 9/11 was clearly appallingly handled by successive administrations in not just the US but nations across the globe – but that is a judgement of hindsight.
Let me for a moment look back with crystal clear honestly, *without* rewriting what I thought at the time. Going into Afghanistan to wipe out al-qaeda didn’t feel wrong at the time – and I *still* don’t see what other options the US had, and I challenge any writer or politician to prove to me they would have done otherwise were they in a position of responsibility to ensure security. The wordy but mealy-mouthed non-engagement of various places (the EU for example) generated in me at the time nothing but contempt – cowardly – because they were in all honesty relying on the US to do the dirty so they could carp moralistically from the sidelines secured by the blood and money of others whom they despised. Rather like the educated but still radicalised class of Afghanistani men nurtured under the security of American overseers. Redolent also of the current stance of the Labour Party in all honesty – no clarity, no honesty, but a meaningless fantasy of words instead. My conjecture is, were, say, Lisa Nandy in Afghanistan as a diplomat, I bet she would be hot-tailing it out of there – because she can – instead of standing with a placard in the middle of Kabul challenging the taliban treatment of women and girls – leaving behind the, um, women and girls as victims – to go back and agonise about it all from the security of home of course. Going at the time into Iraq militarily (instead of after the motherload which was Saudi) *did* feel wrong, but taking that stance entailed aligning with awful types (Corbinonians etc), an assortment of nuts whose positions I was loath to buy into. I didn’t agree with pretty much anything they ever believed, so the instinct was to say, well if they want something, doing the opposite is likely a pretty good bet. In any case there was no denying that Hussain was both a murderous oppressor and a dangerous chancer – but it all felt like unfinished Bush family business – as appalling a vanity project perpetrated by an elected leadership (twice need I mention) as any perpetrated by any two bit arab dictator. Shame it toppled the dominoes across the arab world making things much worse than they were – not that the arab world under a bunch of butchers was exactly a rose garden.

And yet, having gone in, leaving on the terms the US and the UK just did was plain wrong on so many levels. I am under no illusions that there was in fact any way of leaving cleanly, but this feels like the worst of all worlds. Let me just point out one example. It was recently pointed out in this very publication that 40% of Afghanistan is under 14 – a number I found difficult to credit in the first instance. So we’ve just left a country full of children in the clutches of the taliban have we? Well done us.

Also wrong is the smidgen of a hint from the author that talibani control might actually turn out to bring stability there, although Aris is far too smart to say so too explicitly. Er, no it won’t. That story at the end about how they were willing to sell out bin laden having first nurtured him while he committed murder tells you everything you need to know. Don’t make the mistake of assigning rational motives to the taliban. If there was any rationality, however twisted to them, then they wouldn’t be the taliban. It’s a snake pit. Don’t expect the snakes to change their nature.

Last edited 2 years ago by Prashant Kotak
Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

People like to mention the history of Afghanistan, but I haven’t seen it mentioned that historically, a government in Kabul never controlled the country, hence the futility of sending an army there to impose a king in the nineteenth century. I suspect the new Taliban government won’t succeed, either. Of any western-style government, perhaps the canton system as in Switzerland would have been a better model.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

True, Afghanistan never was controlled by the King, as such. The King was the head influencer of the Tribal leaders – he was the one who led them, not ruled them. But he also had power, as he only had to get most on his side, and the rest must fallow. As they did not want civil war the King had strength.

It is Islam which will rule Afghanistan, as it is the universal there, it strides over all Tribes – and so the Taliban leader must have his religious authority respected – and then he can rule. Trump was right, to try to form Taliban leadership.

Ferrusian Gambit
SS
Ferrusian Gambit
2 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

People seem to talk of Afghanistan as a coherent entities that existed throughout history. But it is just the rump of an 18th century Persian-based empire.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Great rebuttal. The Taliban are on a religious crusade which attracts followers. But the religion is rooted in old failed dogma that can be quite destructive in the modern world noted by Engels. This 14th century battle continues.

Lesley van Reenen
LV
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

I echo the criticism of the astounding and unnecessary mismanagement of the withdrawal. This staggering inefficiency illustrates just how inept the Biden administration is and makes one ask again – just who is in control of the US?
As an aside, I would like to understand the profile of a Taliban member – something a little deeper than the warring intolerant religious nut who intrinsically hates women.

Galeti Tavas
VS
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

Maybe ‘The Sewing Circles of Herat’ by Christina Lamb – it is cheap used, and worth the read.

Just yesterday I was sitting on the water with my mother and she was reminiscing of being stuck in Herat a couple days as the border guards would not let them out to Iran – and hired a taxi driver to take them somewhere and naturally to Jami’s Tomb, and it was so touching really, remembering how it was before the destruction – she had studied Persian Poetry under Dr Negabon in Kabul, old days, wonderful days…

Mawlana Abdur Rahman Jami was Herat’s greatest poet and one of the greatest Sufi poets who wrote in Persian. He was a regular at the court of Sultan Baiqara, where he composed many treatises on the soul’s meditation of the divine. He died in 1492 and is still revered by modern Heratis, who can often quote from his greatest work, HaftAwrang”

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I have downloaded it, thanks

hugh bennett
HB
hugh bennett
2 years ago

“As an aside, I would like to understand the profile of a Taliban member – something a little deeper than the warring intolerant religious nut who intrinsically hates women”…
It has been said that if you stare into the eyes of a cobra, the fear has another side to it, the fear is lessened as you begin to see the essence of the beauty, but I reckon it will still strike and kill you if it can.
To be charitable the Taliban obviously find meaning and solace in their faith however perverted others consider that to be.You could say the Taliban fought for their rights, in their land, but even then you have to negate the millions of Afghans who were not thus inclined.
But you might just have to accept that there is nothing deeper, that they are indeed warring, intolerant religious zealots who believe women have their place within their code,and even by medieval standards its a hard hard place.
They may be capable of being rational and reasonable but I would not bet on it.They have not developed a political wing, they have little by way of funds, they will start to govern with the harshest interpretation of Sharia Law, they will probably continue to implement that for a long time.
We in the West think they will invite support and funds from big powers eager to gain strategic influence, but don`t bet on the Taliban playing ball.First of all, we need to give up the idea that the world is organised in a rational way. It is mad and always has been. What drives the Taliban now is not reason but blind will. And thus the infliction of suffering is likely to continue.
A terrifying 15C like state may be what is in store. Within the Taliban there are, even by their terrifying standards,Ultras, anyone bending too much to the infidel is likely to feel their wrath.
“The nation blest above all nations is she in whom the civic genius of the people does the saving day by day, by acts without external picturesqueness; by speaking, writing, voting reasonably; by the people knowing true men when they see them, and preferring them as leaders to rabid partisans..” I read that on an American Civil Monument.
I just cannot see that for Afghanistan.
I dedicate this comment to the memory of a friend of my son who died in Afghanistan…
what do I know anyway?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  hugh bennett

You do not understand the absolutely, and complete depravity we Westerners live in, and think normal, as you see it as a fish sees the water – which is not at all, as it is the very medium we lives in.

You see the depravity of others, but do not see the beam in your own eye.

Matthew 7:3
1Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. 6Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”

hugh bennett
HB
hugh bennett
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Proverbs 29:9
If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.
PS
When i look into the eyes of my grandchildren i do see through the water, and what I see is Hope, and no-one such as you lecturing me, when you don`t know me at all, will ever,ever take that Hope away.

Last edited 2 years ago by hugh bennett
Giles Chance
GC
Giles Chance
2 years ago

In December 2001, at a lunch party in Hertfordshire, England, I asked the American ambassador to Bulgaria what the Americans would do in Afghanistan, once they had found Bin Laden and killed him. She had no answer to my question. Even then, it was possible to see that an attempt to colonise Afghanistan and impose democracy was a terrible mistake.
Then came Iraq – another horrible error, in the face of strong, if not overwhelming protest and advice to the contrary. Later, Syria – in some ways, the worst.
May Tony Blair rot in hell.
Is Guantanamo Bay a war crime ? Innocent men imprisoned for many years in appalling conditions, without recourse to the ability to clear their name ? I think it is.
Americans (and others) need to reflect deeply upon the terrible carnage and loss of life they have brought to innocent people, many of them women and children, for reasons as ideological as the Taliban treatment of women.

Last edited 2 years ago by Giles Chance
Douglas Proudfoot
DP
Douglas Proudfoot
2 years ago

At least when Voltaire wrote “Candide,” it was meant to be a joke. This article ignores the very nature of the Taliban by claiming that there’s a possibility they will rule Afghanistan without violence this time. What stops any local Taliban commander from killing anyone? Nothing, and absolute power like that corrupts absolutely.
As a Vietnam Era Veteran, I remember how Pol Pot started in Cambodia. Only high government officials and the officers of the government’s army were killed, with their families. However, by the time he and the Khmer Rouge were finished, 2 million Cambodian men, women and children were dead. Victorious Communists in Vietnam and Laos killed several hundred thousand more. However, leftist intellectuals insisted there was “no bloodbath,” and carefully explained away any evidence to the contrary.
Once the Taliban have consolidated their control over the whole country, I expect a lot of killing, perhaps 500,000 deaths. However, news and social media will probably censor most coverage because it won’t fit the narrative they need to push, that Biden is a hero and experts now in power are omniscient and infallible.
We’ve already seen the last helicopter evacutating US personnel from the US Embassy in Kabul, a repetition of Saigon in 1975. The same bloodbath will surely follow, because there’s really nothing to stop it.

Malcolm Knott
MK
Malcolm Knott
2 years ago

Was this our fourth or fifth Afghan War? I’ve lost count, but they all end the same way, namely with British forces in retreat and a barbaric nation reverting to its traditional way of life in which its benighted inhabitants set about murdering and mutilating each other. God help them. We can’t.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago

The Taliban can only bring ‘peace’ through the crushing of dissenting voices. Let’s face it we don’t mean ‘peace’, we mean western style freedom and democracy don’t we. Perhaps some places are not capable of it and we need to let them get on with it. You can’t go from medieval barbarism to 21st century enlightenment overnight. Our own ancestors suffered greatly along the way to get us here. If we start importing millions of 3rd world asylum seekers they won’t end up like us, we will end up like Afghanistan.
Though I don’t like the thought of innocents suffering I’m not prepared to sacrifice our own society to try and improve theirs when they possibly don’t want us to.

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
2 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

In the context of Afghanistan (as we know, a country of multiple ethnicities and languages) I think”peace” means an agreement between the various tribal groups not to fight each other, and even to co-operate in some sense. That’s a good and realistic objective. If the Taliban can bring it, then good.

Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson
2 years ago

After reading this article I had to check I hadn’t inadvertently landed on the pages on the Guardian.
The author’s seething hatred of the US and the West in general is almost as striking as his apologistic and appeasing tone in discussing his beloved Taliban.
I heard an Afghani women’s right activist, now in hiding, talking to CNN last night.
She described the horrors and atrocities being inflicted on women under the Taliban (who over the past few years been steadily regaining control of several regions). These warrant more consideration than expressed in the author’s vacuous and pious platitudes on what the future may bring.
Clearly he thinks the complete negation of the female mind, body and human rights a small price to pay for achieving “stability”.
“Yet in any case, the United States did not enter Afghanistan to advance the rights of women:” 
Even if that might not have been the West’s overriding objective, I would dispute that, as would many Afghani women, who became the first generation in their country to be afforded the opportunity of an education and healthcare. Literacy and numeracy among women have soared over the past 20 years – another fact the author doesn’t even bother to mention.
Just as he glosses over the thousands of civilians, often women and children, who have been cynically and deliberately butchered by the Taliban, particularly during the protracted and often stalling negotiations taking place in Doha over the past couple of years.
That said, the withdrawal was inevitable, even if it has been absymally managed.
Afghanis had understandably lost all confidence in their irredeemably corrupt government – who, even if democratically elected by a very small percentage of the overall population – had no popular mandate.

Last edited 2 years ago by Eddie Johnson
No Wei
No Wei
2 years ago
Reply to  Eddie Johnson

I suspect this article will not age well.

Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  No Wei

I hope it does, for the sake of the Afghani people..
But Mr Roussinos’ “harsh, but fair” Taliban heroes are not known for keeping their word.
However, if they wish to erect a functioning Caliphate, they will be dependent upon the resumption of foreign aid from the West,and that will not come with preconditions.
We’ll see how long they continue to play nice.

Dustin Needle
DN
Dustin Needle
2 years ago

Well Aris, you speak for me and I think quite a few others as well
I woke up yesterday morning to witness a political and journalistic madhouse. Why is it that practical, common sense articles like this are so hard to find?

Mike Bell
Mike Bell
2 years ago
Reply to  Dustin Needle

Agreed. There was a time (but perhaps I am fantasising) when journalists researched their subject and then wrote their article (as Aris has done here).
In recent years (perhaps with the advent of mobile phones) journalists have reverted to endless interviews. This looks like journalism, but, as they simply pick interviewees who will support their narrative (or get emotional coverage), we learn nothing.

Simon Denis
SD
Simon Denis
2 years ago

Short answer to the question: only if they are contained. We may not be able to impose a western friendly government in Kabul but we have to ensure that whatever is brewed in Taliban land is not exported.

John Hicks
John Hicks
2 years ago

Who are THE Taliban ? Mr Roussinos fails to provide precise definitions. Whoever they are the Afghan defence force records 58,000 soldiers killed trying to defeat them in recent years. Mike Martin suggests that land and water rights are more likely to drive determined loyalties among people of Afghanistan. Do these villagers club together as grieving Taliban? What is the special worth to die in a ditch over? Recent Taliban pictures circulated look more like young Pakistani men on the rampage rather than those more ancient ideologues of 20 years ago seeking rewards eternal. Would be helpful to understand who it is we run away from and what is the glue that binds them together.

Giles Chance
GC
Giles Chance
2 years ago
Reply to  John Hicks

Yes. We need to understand better who the Taliban fighters are, whether they are all Muslim extremists, or are they Afghan nationalists,. or something else ?

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

They are Pashtun with a Wahibi mindset. The influence of the Saudis post 1979 resulted in the Sufi moderate Islam being replacedby Wahabism. There ism very good book by a Telegraph jounalist on the origins of the Taliban. The Taliban were Afghan Pashtun students in the madrassas in Pakistan who formed a military force to quell the violence post 1992 and were directed by Pakistan’s Military Intelligence ISI who wished to control the country.

Graeme Laws
GL
Graeme Laws
2 years ago

So if we through them a few bob they’ll allow the girls to go to school and marry whom they wish. Naive bunkum. And the USA was not defeated. The Afghan army didn’t fight.

Last edited 2 years ago by Graeme Laws
hugh bennett
HB
hugh bennett
2 years ago

.Dear Aris, How old are you ? Heres an old proverb, often used but ever applicable, " A leopard never changes its spots".
"Grandma what is evil?"... " I don
t know my child, but you`ll know it when you see it”.

Last edited 2 years ago by hugh bennett
Dustshoe Richinrut
DR
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

In Biden’s inauguration speech, he talked of America being a “force for good in the world”. Well, after the shambolic American withdrawal from Kabul, and the desperation and panic of surely tens of thousands of Afghans, afraid of the Taliban, where do the force-for-good Americans now stand? Are they embarrassed? Or is this cavalier dismissal of problems or threats from the Taliban from the same Dems playbook that allowed them to ride roughshod over people’s deep worries about riots being trivialised in American cities last year?
According to this article, the Taliban might be up for being a force for good. Perhaps the Americans, those now in power, lowered the threshold for that.

Chris Eaton
CE
Chris Eaton
2 years ago

I think the author should car, bus, plane or train tomorrow to Kabul to continue his Phd studies. He might well get along….good thing he isn’t a woman.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago

What noone wants to accept is that the practical experience Britain had devloped over centuries was lost when the the ICS/Colonial and Army officers died or went out of circulation which was roughly the mid 1990s at the very latest. Most of those who had attained any authority were largely dead by the mid 1980s.
By practical experience I mean 20 years as ICS/Army officer on the Khyber Pass who like Col John Masters was the fifth generation of his family to have served in India.
Four questions for authors

  1. Define the character of the Pashtun.
  2. Explain changes in Sunni Theology since 1920s and in particular Salaafi influence.
  3. Who supports the Taleban and why?

The leader of the Taleban has spiritual authority yet no author appears to understand the Theology of the Taleban. The same can be said of the Theological rulers in Iran. al Quaeda is largely arab , the Taleban are Pashtun; both are Sunni. Will the Sunni nature of their faith act as a glue or will Pashtuns not accept foreigners, even Al Quaeda, influencing their decisions ?

Mike Bell
Mike Bell
2 years ago

Thank you, Aris, for this intelligent article.
It’s so good to get away from the MSM ‘West-good, Taliban-bad’ simplistic narrative.
Thank you for taking the time and trouble to research your subject before picking up your pen.

Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson
2 years ago

“Human rights group Amnesty International revealed that Taliban fighters massacred nine ethnic Hazara men after taking control of the country’s Ghazni province last month, with eyewitnesses giving harrowing accounts of the killings. 
Six men were shot and three were tortured to death, including one man who was strangled with his own scarf and had his arm muscles sliced off during the atrocity, which took place between 4-6 July in the village of Mundarakht, Malistan district, the group revealed. ”
Or as Mr Roussinos has so euphemistically put it: His beloved Taliban are “harsh, but fair”.

andrew harman
andrew harman
2 years ago

The outcome would have been the same whatever the timing. This war was lost long ago but given the investment of resources and loss of life there was a reluctance to openly admit it. Biden is simply enacting the plan Trump signed off on and again it would have been no different
It is also an object lesson in the vacuity of the notion of “nation building”, at least in that part of the world or anywhere that has no tradition of democratic, liberal norms. The neo-cons were fundamentally mistaken.
I do recall (I think on Jeremy Vine) a number of years ago a Labour MP – whose name I cannot recall – calling the esteemed historian Corelli Barnett a “carping academic” when he said that we should not be in the business of expending effort, money and lives in ensuring Afghan girls go to school. I would love to hear what he thinks now.

Jon Hawksley
JH
Jon Hawksley
2 years ago

A useful article in emphasising the need to view other societies in their own terms.
It would be interesting to know more about how the Taliban governed before 9-11 and the support they have gained since then among the Afghan population. If they were very focussed on implementing their religious beliefs and have gained young adherents to those beliefs over the 20 years since then, they are likely to pick up where they left of. Their religion dictates the society they want without anything being negotiable. They will be as ruthless as they need to be to enforce observance of their religion. If everyone gives up opposing them this may be limited to settling old scores.
I am puzzled by “Afghanistan will still need Western support for reconstruction”. I do not see why economic goals would be high on the Taliban agenda. My recollection is that the clerics were not intent on material gain.
Bush and Blair were very starry eyed believing that any good would come out of invading countries they neither understood nor had a plan for occupying. To defeat a religion you have to find a way to make people question its value to them – not easy, did they even try? A trillion dollars is $25,000 per head in a country with an estimate GDP of less than $600 per head. I suspect they never gave it a thought and Trump, Biden and Johnson have not dug into it.

Liz Walsh
EH
Liz Walsh
2 years ago

The Taliban, or any of the Mideast’s regional factions, “bring peace”? Possibly, bearing in mind a line from a hymn describing a kind of peace as “strife closed in the sod” …

John
J
John
2 years ago

I find this to be a slanted piece – whether they are studying a PhD it is clear that their argument is framed to make the Taliban out to be benign. The only “apparently” was in regard to the female workers told to go home. Funny that they question the bad things, or in the case of already marrying off girls as young as 15 to commanders (link to sex slaves evidence), miss them out completely. No mention also to chopping off fingers of those who voted for the government.
Then the classic heart-wringing origin story about being from a broken home to try and manipulate our emotions to feel sorry for the way they enact strict Sharia law.
It’s a shame the author seeks to manipulate us with emotion and cherry-picked data rather than all the facts – no matter how inconvenient they are to their pet hypothesis. Not the usual quality I expect from Unherd.

Last edited 2 years ago by John
Perry de Havilland
PD
Perry de Havilland
2 years ago

Of course they can bring peace, once they have slaughtered their enemies and brutalised the rest into submission. As Calgacus may or may not have actually said of Rome: “they make a desolation and call it peace.”

Peter Branagan
PB
Peter Branagan
2 years ago

Thank you Aris. Another informative thought provoking article.
Only one question. What material thing can the West supply to the new Taliban government and the people of Afghanistan that China cannot? (In return, of course, for help in suppressing Islamic terrorism in Xinjiang).

Andrew Fisher
AF
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago

A good analysis, but I don’t agree that a single further Western dollar or pound should be expended on Afghanistan. We have spent billions, let the Chinese try if they wish.

Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson
2 years ago

So how is the theory of your beloved Taliban bringing peace going so far Mr Roussinos?
Even your unalloyed joy at the death of US soldiers must be somewhat tempered by agonizing death of almost 200 innocent Afhanis, surely?
Or was it their fault for having the temerity to want to leave the newly-founded Emirate?

Goncalves Widell
GW
Goncalves Widell
1 year ago
Reply to  Eddie Johnson

The Mike Vapes Blaze RTA is a dual coil RTA that is a cut above the rest of its competition. With an easy airflow system and a great deck design, this RTA is an obvious winner. Here is a review of the Blaze RTA by Antony Lord from Planet Of The Vapes.