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How bin Laden won The American empire is finally crumbling

“The struggle is both financial and physical” (Universal History Archive/Getty Images)


September 11, 2021   9 mins

In Joe Biden’s keynote speech following the bloody debacle at Kabul airport, the American president presented a sober vision of the country’s new foreign policy realities that both liberals and conservatives seem loath to accept: that the age of remoulding the world in America’s image is over; that bloody and failing land wars in the depths of Asia were a luxury America could no longer afford; and that all along, the creeping, ever-expanding and ever-costlier mission had been a gigantic trap.

As Biden observed, entirely correctly, “there’s nothing China or Russia would rather have, would want more in this competition than the United States to be bogged down another decade in Afghanistan”. Instead, he asserted, “this decision about Afghanistan is not just about Afghanistan. It’s about ending an era of major military operations to remake other countries.” Whatever the howls of outrage from America’s prestige opinion pages, the age of liberal imperialism is over: the time of nakedly realist great power competition has begun.

Yet Biden’s worldview, so outrageous for an American commentariat as recklessly jingoistic as John Bull magazine in its Edwardian prime, is supported by analysis from an unexpected quarter: that of the architect himself of both America’s War on Terror, and of the great slaughter in New York that precipitated it, Osama bin Laden.

Piecing together the themes of bin Laden’s various statements to the outside world in the years immediately before and after 9/11, a specific, concrete plan emerges, by which the “slave of God” — as the billionaire son of a Yemen-born construction magnate styled himself — would accelerate the collapse of the American empire through embroiling it in long, unwinnable and expensive ground wars in the Islamic world. This plan, bin Laden claimed, had formulated itself through his experience of the jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan, whose ignominious withdrawal from the country had shortly preceded their imperial collapse, events in which he himself had played a relatively undistinguished part.

In an interview conducted a month and a half after 9/11, bin Laden observed that:

“the Soviet Empire has become — with God’s grace — a figment of the imagination. Today, there is no more Soviet Empire; it split into smaller states and only Russia is left… So we believe that the defeat of America is something achievable — with the permission of God — and it is easier for us — with the permission of God — than the defeat of the Soviet Empire previously.”

Why would it be easier, asked the journalist, al Jazeera’s then-star reporter Taysir Alluni incredulously? Because, bin Laden replied, “we have already fought them — like our brothers who have engaged in battle with the Americans, as in Somalia. We have not yet found a significant force of note. There is a great aura about America, which it uses to scare people before it engages in battle.”

But, he claimed, the brief and inglorious American episode in Somalia showed that American power could not stretch to imposing order on insurgent forces far from home: “America left, dragging behind it tails of humiliation, defeat, and loss, without looking back; it retreated unexpectedly, and it forgot all that great media enthusiasm about the New World Order, and how it was the master of that order, and could do whatever it pleased.”

This was not the first time bin Laden had used the example of Somalia to persuade sceptics of the logic underlying his plan. In his first interview with al-Jazeera three years earlier, after al-Qaeda’s twin bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which had killed more than 200 people, bin Laden noted that:

“We believe that America is much weaker than Russia, and we have learned from our brothers who fought in the jihad in Somalia of the incredible weakness and cowardice of the American soldier. Not even eighty of them had been killed and they fled in total darkness in the middle of the night, unable to see a thing.”

Even before then, in a 1997 interview with CNN journalist Peter Arnett, bin Laden noted that in Somalia, “after a little resistance, the American troops left after achieving nothing. They left after claiming that they were the largest power on earth. They left after some resistance from powerless, poor, unarmed people whose only weapon is the belief in God Almighty, and who do not fear the fabricated American media lies.”

Indeed, he added, claiming dubiously that veterans of the Afghan jihad had fought against the Americans in Somalia, “We learned from those who fought there, that they were surprised to see the low spiritual morale of the American fighters in comparison with the experience they had with the Russian fighters. The Americans ran away from those fighters who fought and killed them, while the latter stayed.”

In choosing Afghanistan as the location for the war with the United States which would, he believed, bring about its decline, bin Laden embroiled the Afghan people in a conflict not of their choosing, doubling the length of their civil war by another twenty years and inflating its butchers’ bill by 46,000 civilian deaths alone. And yet, with the easy confidence of a billionaire, he told Afghans in a video message that their sacrifice was worth it — and that “whoever doubts this should learn from the Russians how the blessed jihad destroyed their myth.” Because, bin Laden claimed, “the struggle is both financial and physical” so that even as the Taliban reeled under American bombing, “it is possible to strike the economic base that is the foundation of the military base, so when their economy is depleted they will be too busy with each other to be able to enslave poor peoples.”

This emphasis on the War on Terror as a giant, entrapping money pit for the American empire runs throughout bin Laden’s messages. In his 2002 Letter to the American People, bin Laden taunted the inhabitants of “the worst civilisation witnessed by the history of mankind” that “it was easy for us to provoke this administration and lure it into perdition. All we had to do was send two mujahidin to the Far East to raise up a rag on which “al-Qaeda” was written, and the generals came running. This inflicted human, financial, and political losses on America without them even achieving anything worth mentioning, apart from providing business for their private corporations.”

Indeed, in his critique of America’s conversion of the War on Terror into a vast and lucrative wealth-creation scheme for the military-industrial complex, bin Laden either echoes or prefigures the identical critiques of American anti-interventionists of both Left and Right, from Bernie Sanders to Trump’s previous, anti-interventionist incarnation.

As bin Laden boasted, the massive borrowing needed to finance the wars “truly shows that al-Qaeda has made gains, but on the other hand it also shows that the Bush administration has likewise profited. Anyone seeing the enormity of the contracts won by dubious large corporations, like Halliburton and others connected to Bush and his administration, can be certain of that. But the reality is that it is you, the American people and your economy, who are losing.” For “we are continuing to make America bleed to the point of bankruptcy, by God’s will,” he asserted.

Yet it was only the presence of America’s then-Republican government, surely a gift from God, which enabled this situation: “the White House leadership, which is so keen to open up war fronts for its various corporations, whether in the field of arms, oil, or construction, has also contributed to these remarkable results for al-Qaeda.” Indeed, he mocked, “to some analysts and diplomats, it seems as if we and the White House are on the same team shooting at the United States’s own goal, despite our different intentions.”

No wonder, then, that Biden has similarly invoked the vast cost of the wars — two trillion dollars in his estimate — in bringing about their end. But even this colossal sum may be an understatement. As Fortune noted recently, this figure does not include the interest payments on the loans taken out to prosecute the war, nor the benefits paid to the survivors of the more than 7,000 American dead. Nor does it include perhaps the greatest single expense: the medical bills for the war’s more than 50,000 wounded veterans, which may alone total $2.3 trillion by 2050.

All told, claims Fortune, citing Brown University’s Costs of War project, the real bill of the War on Terror, including the lesser engagements in Yemen and Syria, may end up closer to eight trillion dollars, the effect of which American taxpayers have not yet faced, as “almost the entire cost of the Afghan and Iraq wars has come from borrowed money, much of which has yet to be repaid”.

Among America’s creditors is, of course, China, which made use of the West’s overriding distraction with winning over mountain village chieftains in the wilds of Afghanistan, with trying and failing to install a functioning liberal democracy in Iraq and then with destroying the Islamic State caliphate the invasion spawned to accelerate its rise to global industrial dominance. It is surely no accident that only now that the War on Terror is winding down, competition with China has finally intruded into the American foreign policy consciousness, despite being mocked as eccentric or even racist when expressed by then-presidential candidate Trump as the empire’s overriding challenge.

Even in the new Cold War over infrastructure and state capacity, perhaps the battleground on which wavering nations will be competed for, the money wasted on the failed wars in Asia could, as the Institute of Policy Studies thinktank observes, “have solved multiple problems in the U.S., like erasing all student debt for $1.7 trillion [or] decarbonizing the entire electricity grid for $4.5 trillion.”

But we are where we are. The twenty failed years of war, debt and distraction may not yet have led to America’s collapse in the manner bin Laden eagerly anticipated, but it certainly set the then-sole superpower at a disadvantage in preparing for the coming competition over its right to global hegemony. As Biden noted in his speech announcing the withdrawal, abandoning the Afghan adventure was necessary because “we need to focus on shoring up America’s core strengths to meet the strategic competition with China and other nations that is really going to determine our future.” Returning to this theme in his speech justifying the chaotic scenes in Kabul, he reiterated that “the world is changing. We’re engaged in a serious competition with China… We have to shore up America’s competitiveness to meet these new challenges in the competition for the 21st century,” and “as we turn the page on the foreign policy that has guided our nation the last two decades, we’ve got to learn from our mistakes.”

But can America do so? Their foreign policy establishment certainly seems averse to learning any lessons from two decades of failure, even if ordinary voters overwhelmingly support Biden’s diminution of America’s historical mission. It is not obvious that a GOP establishment responsible for the manifold strategic disasters of the twenty-year war can legitimately criticise Biden’s decision to end it, especially not when its last president rode to power partly on the same platform.

Yet even bin Laden’s purported killer, a SEAL operative-turned conservative talkshow celebrity and anti-masking activist, maintains his brand by asserting that “It baffles me right now that we’re even considering negotiating with the Taliban … Why don’t we just go kill them?” — to the applause of American conservatives who applauded Trump’s anti-interventionism just as passionately when the random spinning wheel of America’s culture war was calibrated to reward different incentives.

For al-Qaeda itself, America’s endless internal political conflict, its deepest malaise, is nothing but a cause for crowing celebration. In a recent propaganda video, America Burns, an adaptation of a previous magazine article, al-Qaeda surveyed the American political scene, crowing at the internal divisions of a “decaying polity” on the “verge of collapse”. In al-Qaeda’s framing, America is teetering on the edge of civil war. Its vast security apparatus has increasingly been directed onto American voters themselves as the combination of crude populism and the reactive collusion between the security state and “the liberal press that controls the American media industry” raised the country’s tensions to boiling point. As a consequence, America’s “usury-based economy” is merely “an inflated balloon ready to implode”, serving only “the corporate robber barons” and “Communist China.” Indeed, they boast, “It was Allah’s wisdom that the fourth plane whose downing was ordered by Dick Cheney on the 11th of September did not reach its target, and Americans were left to destroy the edifice of their democracy with their own hands.”

So what can be said of America’s standing twenty years after 9/11? Strategically, the hegemon appears a strange oxymoron, a global military empire which cannot win wars. It can kill hundreds of thousands of people and cause untold destruction — generally with the very best and noblest of intentions — but is seemingly unable to deploy the overwhelming military force on which its global position depends in a way that advances its interests. Given its military caste was unable even to manage a bloodless withdrawal from an airfield it controlled under a timetable it itself set, who can bet confidently that they would emerge the victor from a struggle against a competent and prepared near-peer adversary like China?

Only a reckless gambler, or the British government, would be happy with such a high-stakes throw of the dice. Politically, America’s divisions are a cautionary tale rather than an example to the world it still claims to lead; if the US still retains its status as the global standard-bearer for liberal democracy, then liberal democracy is not as enticing a prospect as it once appeared.

Yet America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, like the withdrawal from Iraq — which, after a decent interval to avoid the appearance of being pushed out by the Iranian-backed militias the war empowered, seems certain to follow — does not herald the end of American power. It was the wars themselves that were the trap, as bin Laden made clear time and time again, and their ending is a necessary moment of rebalancing to focus on the far greater challenge ahead. In this, we can say Biden was the president the American empire needed, even if his supporters didn’t realise that was what they were getting: a cautious realist brought to power by a liberal-imperialist establishment, and a broadly competent manager of retrenchment, and objective decline.

It is therefore wrong to claim — as Tom Tugendhat and others have — that the withdrawal from Afghanistan is America’s Suez moment, not least because Suez was a military victory for Britain. It would be more apt to view it as America’s Singapore, a failure of planning and overconfidence which heralded the collapse of imperial power in vast swathes of Asia, yet a moral and psychological defeat more than a terminal strategic one. The Suez moment, if it comes, still lies over the horizon.

The lustre of the American empire has been tarnished, but the core underlying structure may hold good for decades yet; if America has lost its claims to global leadership, it has also lost its desire to press them. In abandoning America’s failing wars to focus on its decaying infrastructure and the great power competition that will now define its future, Biden has, perhaps, twenty years after the carnage of 9/11, finally exorcised bin Laden’s ghost.


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

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Dustin Needle
DN
Dustin Needle
2 years ago

A lot of this was clear even to the general public back in 2001. As Aris points out, it was pretty decent of OBL to announce his grand plan publically so even our politicians and generals could figure out the game.
Yes, as soon as the bombs fell and troops, we walked into that trap. As for Iraq, my blood ran cold when I could see that Bush was hell-bent on squandering what was left of global goodwill and that our PM was going to help him do it, in return for the adulation of a rich US audience.
For the younger me, then working in London, the bigger issue at the time was – how many people with these intentions are already in our country? What is the Government doing, right now, to ensure that action is seen to be done – i.e. borders properly managed so we can at least deal with the enemies already within our gates?
Millions of Westerners took part in protests throughout the world (including London) over the weekend of 15 and 16 February 2003. You don’t hear much about the World’s biggest protest these days. Steve Bray gets more coverage – he’s still out there, banging on about Brexit
As Douglas Wissing commented at the end of the Obama presidency; “It’s the perfect war, everybody’s getting rich”. Including by the way the Taliban, who were being paid to keep the roads open so the wider country could function.
It’s not too late for journalists to start following the money, instead of turning this into another Trump/Biden punch and judy show.

Galeti Tavas
VS
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

“In this, we can say Biden was the president the American empire needed,”

“even if ordinary voters overwhelmingly support Biden’s diminution of America’s historical mission.”

“Biden has, perhaps, twenty years after the carnage of 9/11, finally exorcised bin Laden’s ghost.”

Speaking of which, It seems the writer was channeling Bin Laden’s ghost as he wrote this article. He has much truth, especially about getting the ‘Military Industrial Complex’ to grab the bait he dangled, knowing it would result as he described, insane waste, and ultimate failure, and ignominy, and a dispirited public, as the war was to spend money (and to push feminist Liberalism to please the MSM), not to make conquest, so failed. – Then getting to where the next phase is having America devour its self from the inside via the Liberal/Lefty MSM; This is also true.

The thing is the writer then goes Very much channeling Bin Laden again when he so glowingly praises Biden. Because Biden did more for Bin Laden than Pres Bush did.

Biden has declared war on America by his Covid-19 Response. His Fiscal/Monetary and ‘Human Infrastructure’ printing insanity, his paying to not work, Locking Down, teaching all to fear and distrust each other, his blocking education for a year, and on and on in the Biden/USA Death Wish.

But mainly Biden’s Liberal/Lefty, Post Modernism, Race Divisions Camp, his teaching of Oppressed/Oppressor philosophy . His CTR, His BLM, his destroying the entire education system, turning it into ‘Re-Education, brainwashing the students to Loath all which is great, moral, Constitutional, and that which USA stood for, and all to loath other Americans by Identity and Intersectionality.

In the one-Two punch Bin Laden delivered, the writer is correct about the first punch – but is utterly wrong about the second as he thinks Biden deflected some of it – but Biden IS THE SECOND PUNCH.

“For al-Qaeda itself, America’s endless internal political conflict, its deepest malaise, is nothing but a cause for crowing celebration.”

” at the internal divisions of a “decaying polity” ** “America is teetering on the edge of civil war. Its vast security apparatus has increasingly been directed onto American voters themselves” ** “the liberal press that controls the American media industry” raised the country’s tensions to boiling point. As a consequence, America’s “usury-based economy” is merely “an inflated balloon ready to implode”, serving only “the corporate robber barons” and “Communist China.”” ** ” Indeed, they boast,” ** “Americans were left to destroy the edifice of their democracy with their own hands.””

And it is the Post-Modernist, Neo-Marxists who have captured all the education systems, the mid level of all Government and industry (as the university graduates who staff them have been utterly indoctrinated by their 95% Post-Modernist teachers), And basically the MSM – Tech/Social Media, and Democrat Party, are one and the same; Biden’s Party. It is also the printing of Trillions for no reason but to devalue the dollar, this is Biden’s legacy.

Democrats are the actual ones who will destroy America by dividing and further bankrupting, and the writer misses this. He thinks Biden is helping – how can he be so right about the first half, and so wrong about the second?

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

.

Last edited 2 years ago by Billy Bob
David McDowell
David McDowell
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Bidet’s election is a symptom not a cause. American decline began in the 1960s when able young men who should have relished the prospect of war in Vietnam chose to hide in cupboards instead. Toxic pacifism and acceptance of toxic feminism were the price America paid for an easier life in the short term. Withdrawal from the world at large goes hand in hand with declining population growth once one realises that technology alone can’t fight let alone win wars.
The culture’s weakness in the face of assault from extreme, preposterous ideologies is symptomatic of exhaustion.
All in all it’s not so much a recipe for decline as the conditions in which decline is unavoidable.

Last edited 2 years ago by David McDowell
Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  David McDowell

I’m intrigued, have you ever fought in a war? Why is it something youngsters should relish?
If my country was under threat of invasion I’d take up arms to help defend it, I’d be less inclined to do so in a country that I have no connection to

Adam Bartlett
Adam Bartlett
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

If you don’t mind me answering for Mr McDowell, it’s probably based on the view that war is inherently exciting & character buillding. (This was often the domminant view throughout history until after WWI. The news that WWI had started was met with wildly cheering crowds. This is not to say that it’s a bad thing anti-war arguments are now more dominant. ) If you’re also intrigued with DM’s central point about conditions of decline, a great short article you can read online is ‘The fate of empires’ by General Glubb.

Dr Stephen Nightingale
Dr Stephen Nightingale
2 years ago
Reply to  Adam Bartlett

It’s gonna be impossible to sell any future war on the basis of ‘adventure and character-building’ to any but a few opportunistic nihilists. The casual carnage and monumental military stupidity of WWI, followed by its corrective WWII ended that.

Adam Bartlett
AB
Adam Bartlett
2 years ago

I hope you’re right. Within the liberal thought bubble, you definetly are. Outside said bubble, if ‘chance to achieve a glorious legacy’ + ‘chance to end an unendurable status quo’ are thrown into the sales pitch, then I fear it’s not such a tough sell. Anyhow, the understanding & open minded debate we get on Unherd has to slightly lower the odds of such a future. (Aris’s articles over this last year are great for peaks at what’s going on in the non-liberal world.)

David McDowell
David McDowell
2 years ago

Also correct but that’s because we’re in the middle and process of decline not because we’re inherently more pacific.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

not as far as the British military are concerned: recruitment goes up when there is conflict.. and we serve Queen.. and country

David McDowell
David McDowell
2 years ago
Reply to  Adam Bartlett

Exactly. And not just character building, possession justifying.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  Adam Bartlett

It hasn’t been the dominant view for a century though. No doubt before the First World War it would have been thought of as exciting, largely because those at home would have had no concept of what it was actually like. They’d have merely heard stories of heroic victories and any defeat wouldn’t have been mentioned. Plus colonial wars were a long way removed from the First World War, a few lads chucking spears is a different ball game to the trenches and Germans with heavy machine guns.
Since the First World War much more of the population was conscripted into fight, so knew the terrible toll war could inflict. With the advent of television we also see for ourselves that battle isn’t a pleasant place to be. If the original poster still believed that sending young lads to war will fix society’s problems then I can’t help thinking his ideas are at least 100 years out of date

Andrew Fisher
AF
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  Adam Bartlett

That is often true until the point at which soldiers have actually experienced military action and the deaths of many of their comrades. Then they often adopt a much less gung-ho attitude than the stay at home armchair warriors.

There were specific factors to the Vietnam war. Many US servicemen were unconvinced by justification for it, there was a huge and obvious divide in American society, and of course there were many black soldiers and civil rights battles were still ongoing at home. It was rather difficult to see that this was much to do with protecting your homeland. And of course we now know there was a cynicism about the leadership of the war who knew it could not be won militarily.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew Fisher
David McDowell
David McDowell
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

If that’s the only thing that would make you take up arms you’d lose and end up being invaded. Guess what?

Billy Bob
BB
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  David McDowell

How did America losing a war to the Vietnamese prevent them being invaded?

Charles Mimoun
Charles Mimoun
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I even think that there is a moral problem to send soldiers to their deaths in the name of patriotism when there are only political considerations that justify wide forces deployments abroad, and when the beloved nation is not in danger at all.

Galeti Tavas
VS
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  David McDowell

you are a troll

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago
Reply to  David McDowell

I gave up at the “Biden has declared war on America by his Covid-19 Response” statement.
“Declared war on America” lol.
If you wish to convince people of your point of view, perhaps tone down the sensationalist rhetoric?

James Watson
James Watson
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

There is no confusion here in my mind – the author is wrong in both his first and second halves. Holding Afghanistan with 2500 troops, no casualties for 18 months, and moving the country towards western values was a clear and sustainable victory. I fear we will soon learn the folly of the US pullout.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  James Watson

The thing of Afghan stability is it must get some long lasting stability. It has NO economic base. The small agriculture of the 60s worked somewhat till the population tripled, and now cannot give much work and food.

Afghanistan needs Mining. That is what it has, that and hydro. The ideal is mines, refineries, and pipelines, and those take up to a decade to really get running, and also now days use very few, highly skilled, employees – so will never solve the employment problems. Instead Afghanistan will be an endless source of young men illegal migrants plaguing the world.

BUY it must get the resource extraction up and running so it has an economy at all. THAT was what USA should have been doing. Russia would have – China now will.

This is the great USA failure. We just put them on a cross of Danegeld and Welfare, and that is not a viable way for a undeveloped nation, as we see.

Another decade of USA aircraft backing the native Army possibly could have done this but I doubt it. Endless IEDs would have prevented it working.

Really, only the Taliban can keep peace sufficient to allow the infrastructure of resource extraction to work – Or possibly a model on Kazakhstan….with its thuggish Tyrant, and its world leading Kazatomprom (world’s best and most successful uranium company). But Russia had left Kazakhstan pretty stable, and a strong man created by USA would likely not make Afghanistan sufficiently stable – he would have to be a monster, and we could not allow that.

SNAFU is the truth there. We should have left it to the Russians, they are good at those countries, they do mines, and girls schools, and agriculture and dams….But instead used the war there as a Cold War proxy to bankrupt Russia by feeding in Billions of $ to the local war-lords, and Saudi with ISI used the decades of war to create the Taliban, and as they say in the Army… FUBAR, ….

David McDowell
David McDowell
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

‘To dream the impossible dream’ – Andy Williams

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Afghanistan does have a viable economy: heroin production. And a ready market: the USA.

Philip Stott
Philip Stott
2 years ago

China has got that market sewn up with their fentanyl exports.
Mind you, I suppose what goes around comes around – opium wars…

Last edited 2 years ago by Philip Stott
Michael Keating
MK
Michael Keating
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Totally agree. Afghanistan is sitting on a Trillion dollars of mineral wealth. It has one of the world’s biggest undeveloped copper deposits at Mes Aynak (which China ‘owns’), as well as iron ore and lithium and probably rare earths as well. The fact that the US did practically nothing to help develop these resources and instead went the hand-out route left the Afghans with no choice but to cultivate poppies.

Last edited 1 year ago by Michael Keating
Matt B
MB
Matt B
2 years ago
Reply to  James Watson

Well said – for the short term. But the longer plan was absent.

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt B
Giles Chance
Giles Chance
2 years ago
Reply to  James Watson

Move Afghanistan toward Western values ? What ? What have you been smoking ?

Billy Bob
BB
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  James Watson

Was it moving the country towards western values though? Outside of Kabul I believe a majority of Afghans actually want to live under Sharia law. How long would troops have had to have stayed to convince these people to live like American, which let’s be honest doesn’t look too appealing half the time?

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
2 years ago
Reply to  James Watson

“ There is no confusion here in my mind – the author is wrong in both his first and second halves. Holding Afghanistan with 2500 troops, no casualties for 18 months, and moving the country towards western values was a clear and sustainable victory. I fear we will soon learn the folly of the US pullout.”

That’s Orwellian disingenuousness.

1) there were 2500 troops because the troop numbers were reduced. that was part of trumps agreement.
2) there were no US casualties because the US troops were largely confined to barracks and the Taliban agreed not to target US troops. The Afghan army took significant casualties. It just wasn’t reported.
3) the country had 20 years to move towards western values during which time half the population was born. It didn’t work.

And you missed the $2Tn spent on the war.

Philip Stott
Philip Stott
2 years ago

OK, female emancipation is totally the wrong phrase, but at least their rights had been advanced by a millennium.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

Progressives seem to be doing a very good job of continuing to destroy the US from within.
Of course another irony, oft repeated, is that the Trump proposed withdrawal was completely wrong ad the same decision to withdraw under Biden was right. The manner of the withdrawal which is referenced in this piece is the difference between the two.

Last edited 2 years ago by Lesley van Reenen
Galeti Tavas
VS
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

Either The Progressive (fas* ist, Neo-Marxist) Left/Liberals back down and go for reconciliation, or USA will end up in a soft Civil War. The divisions tending to occur across State lines meaning both sides have real power bases….

America will be ‘Developing World’ in a couple decades, and Third World in a couple generations if it continues on the ideological track Bernie and AOC and the Squad propose.

Such a pointless destruction rather than greatness – just because the Left are so hate fulled they MUST destroy, it is in the philosophy of Marx.

Jim Cox
JC
Jim Cox
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Spot on!

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Are you seriously asserting that Democrats are fascist / neo-Marxist? That’s just silly. As an outsider, it’s been apparent to me for at least 30 years that America is splitting into 2 broad groupings, both of them on different planets, both of you eager to accentuate your differences, both of you easy meat for your wilder, fringe elements. Until you can admit that your lot are 50% are part of the problem, then the US has a major problem.  

Chris Eaton
Chris Eaton
2 years ago

On both counts: exactly. There’s a right way to withdraw and then there’s the wrong way. Biden, who is literally demented chose the 3rd option: the clueless way.

Michael Keating
MK
Michael Keating
1 year ago

Nonsense. The U.S. is far from being ‘destroyed’. That’s a negative fantasy of the loony right. But the country is indeed suffering from the impact of the forever wars, from the fallout out from the 2008 financial crisis, from the outsourcing of the manufacturing economy (hardly the work of progressives…but rather predatory capitalists), from the reluctance to rein in big polluters, from a failure to invest in an equitable educational and health-care system. I have lived in three cities in the past ten years: one in the blue North and two in the Red South. All three were thriving, had solid institutions, thriving economies and a healthy mix of races, religions and political leanings. The people whose lives are being destroyed live in places like the Rust belt that was destroyed, not by woke college professors, but by hedge funds, private equity firms and management consultants who were doing the bidding of corporate CEOs investors and shareholders. They were destroyed by right wing ‘conservatives’ who cut taxes so municipalities could no longer pay for social services or in the case of Flint. Mich, even drinkable water. I will grant that there is a lot of misery in the country today but it was not created by Trans-gendered Marxists but rather by the suits in the corporate suites and their toady friends in government and the media who are relying on the gullibility of the miserable to turn their hatred on the marginal and powerless rather than the true authors of their decline.

J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago

Great article. Aris Roussinos always tells it like it is. Biden made it abundantly clear this is the end of America’s nation building efforts, at least under his presidency. Ironically, with his focus on rebuilding America’s infrastructure rather than squandering its wealth on foreign wars, Biden could borrow Trump’s famous slogan, “America First!”
The departure from Afghanistan was handled abysmally but I doubt Biden will pay much of a political price. Apart from the jabbering class, Americans are much more focused on rebuilding the economy after a year and a half of covid restrictions and getting back to something that resembles normal life. My neighbors with school age children are terrified they’ll be forced back to home schooling their kids if covid shuts the schools again this winter. They’re not worrying about the Middle East.

Galeti Tavas
VS
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

“Biden made it abundantly clear this is the end of America’s nation building efforts, at least under his presidency.”

What? USA had 3000 personnel in Afghanistan, and a full plan was in place by his predecessor to finish it anyway. So you think him good for just pulling the personnel out and leaving 8 BILLION $ of weapons and people behind? You call that ending ‘Nation Building???? To destroy Afghanistan’s transition? What he has made abundantly clear is he now turns his effort on destroying USA, as he showed his methods in Afghanistan.

“Americans are much more focused on rebuilding the economy after a year and a half of covid restrictions”

You cannot build the economy in USA by spending 5 Trillion More of borrowed money on ‘Human Infrastructure’!!!!!!!!!!!!! LESS THAN 300Billion $ of the 4.5 TRILLION stimulus and ‘infrastructure’ Money printed is going to INFRASTRUCTURE!!!!!!!!!!!!! The rest is Pork, Free money for the minority ‘Equity’ game, waste, corruption, pay-backs, sleaze, and out right Self Harm. National Debt is 28 Trillion $, about 9 times the Tax revenue of USA!!!!!!!!!! There is no recovering from that, and not by increasing the debt. This debt means interest must be kept ZERO or it could not be serviced – AND Inflation be made to run hot to devalue the $ to devalue the debt – AND THIS means the middle class, and All Savers are destroyed!!!!!!!!!!!

“My neighbors with school age children are terrified they’ll be forced back to home schooling their kids if covid shuts the schools again”

covid Never Shut the Schools!!!!!!!!!!!! The Left and the MSM, Tech/Social Media, and Marxist Unions did!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They killed the West with their Lockdowns!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
2 years ago

In retrospect, Fukuyama’s book “The End of History and the End of the Last Man” in 1992 marked the triumph of American hubris and the beginning of American decline. For an ignorant, inward-looking and materially-focused culture like that of the United States, victory over the Soviet empire in 1990 could only lead to decline, and to disaster if the dollar would ever cease to be the global reserve currency – an outcome which is becoming less unlikely by the day. A visit today to any medium-sized town in most American states will show that the simple, God-fearing, largely moral American people of 1980 have morphed into a money-worshipping, selfish, largely overweight culture in which the much-vaunted rule of law has become no more than the plaything of the wealthy. America truly is on the downslope. The understandable reluctance of its people to recognise the gravity of their situation can only accelerate the country’s decline.

Adam Bartlett
AB
Adam Bartlett
2 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

Partly agree. But check out Aris’s excellent essay on the Fukuyama book: https://staging.unherd.com/2020/09/why-fukuyama-was-right-all-along/

shanecurran74
SC
shanecurran74
2 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

A visit today to any medium-sized town in most American states will show that the simple, God-fearing, largely moral American people of 1980 have morphed into a money-worshipping, selfish, largely overweight culture

Giles, in your opinion, is this Only happening in America?
Sounds like a description of the West –

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
2 years ago
Reply to  shanecurran74

It is not happening only in America, but it is happening more in America than other places I know, like France and the UK, because America in 1980 was still a partially spiritual society, but now that’s almost all gone. You could say that the US had further to fall.

Cathy Carron
CC
Cathy Carron
1 year ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

There are more than enough ‘chubbies’ in the UK and even France to give the USA a run for its money…

Dr Stephen Nightingale
DN
Dr Stephen Nightingale
2 years ago

Resoundingly missing the point, once again, that America’s serial wars of choice are fuelled by American Business’ need for ever more production and profit: and by far the most profitable business is that of the cycle of “destruction-and-rebuilding” by Lockheed -Grumman – Bechtel – Halliburton, their heirs and associates.
It is beyond obscene that there has been a continuing “bipartisan consensus” for ever bigger military budgets: almost $800 billion just got voted through on the nod this year. Meanwhile any actual useful infrastructure and investment within the US itself always faces opposition, and deaths by a thousand budget cuts.
Also noteworthy that miltary destruction is the most fossil fuel using and carbon producing enterprise on the planet, yet *nobody* ever counts the carbon cost of a tank regiment or an F-35 flight. It needs to be an urgent topic at COP26.

Whatever Latin American, Middle Eastern, African or South East Asian country is the the current target of America’s Imperial displeasure is simply collateral damage to the all consuming self-licking-ice-cream-cone of the MIC.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
2 years ago

As usual, a thought provoking piece from Aris Roussinos. Only one thing to criticise. The passage “Only a reckless gambler, or the British government, would be happy with such a high-stakes throw of the dice” was an entirely unnecessary and petty swipe at the British and not even on topic. A stain on an otherwise fluent and sustained piece of writing.

Frank McCusker
FM
Frank McCusker
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Sensitive

Matt B
Matt B
2 years ago

The concluding sentence here undermines the laying out of a hardly new and now over-Herd take on America’s demise (true or not). Firstly, the ‘ghost’ of OBL still lives on as al-Qaeda, and myriad copiers, and clearly it has not been ‘exorcised’ (how, by a Catholic priest? Or Joe B?). Secondly, OBL’s Islamic faith suggests he might have rejected the author’s careless bestowal upon him of the title of Prophet, as implied by the original clickbait headline of the article (to the effect of OBL prophecy becoming true, before the edit c.1000h BST to the equally bad “How Bin Laden Won”) aimed at today’s 9/11 anniversary. The OBL quotes amount to no more than factual observation, opinion, intent, hope and prediction. Elevating OBL above that underlines the low barrier to entry for war reporting, the vaingloriousness of actually using the title and the oft-attachment to ego that flanks the field (often out of sight). Thirdly, to Walk Out One Summer Morning into a full casino and spy only one or two ‘reckless gamblers’ (US/UK alone?) is quite a perceptional sleight of hand to be met by the sound of one hand clapping in the echo chamber. But well done on simultaneously canonising and exorcising OBL while others mourn. Might be a subscription-ender for me.

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt B
hugh bennett
hugh bennett
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt B

Yes i agree, for me that final paragraph truly exposes this writers innards. I can almost visualize this Aris chap whipping up the cheerleaders, "OBL,OBL we all luv OBL".. Crass is too polite a word.
Enemies of freedom push the concept that democracy is in terminal decline and so many influential folk in those democracies seem to applaud. Democracy is at risk because its beacons are backing off from protecting it. Leadership and allied effort from the world
s democracies is required, but given recent events it is clear that the administration in Washington is devoid of the will to lead anything other than the demise of their own country. It is a sad turn of events and the world is a more dangerous place for it.
Anyway, through all the mess,the mistakes (yes Big Strategic mistakes),the dollars,the blood and the ashes blowing in the wind, I for one, still want thank America,especially its young soldiers, for all it/ they tried to do.

Last edited 2 years ago by hugh bennett
Matt B
Matt B
2 years ago
Reply to  hugh bennett

Agreed. There is a time for this type of article but not on the first bell of remembrance

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt B
Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt B

“above that underlines the low barrier to entry for war reporting,”

Try ‘Scooped’ by Evelyn Waugh for a good send up of ‘War Reporting’.

Matt B
Matt B
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

It’s great. There are others. But Waugh’s Scoop is best. Test of time…

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt B
Galeti Tavas
VS
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt B

““Feather-footed through the plashy fen passes the questing vole.’–William Boot””
Who can forget it – but what is amazing is Evelyn’s life. He was in the formation of the British ‘Commando’ in WWII, and fought ruthlessly – then traveled the world and wrote exceedingly well on it all. I do not like reading most of his writing as I find it has a dark, bleak, side hidden in all the excellence which wears on me – but then he had seen too much of the harshness of the reality of existence, and so it ran to the core of his soul.

Matt B
Matt B
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Agree. Happens to the best

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt B
Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt B

PS, ever read https://www.amazon.com/Good-Soldier-Schweik-Jaroslav-Hasek/dp/0848800982 ? An excellent read, and vital to get the feel of WWI, along with your Siegfried Sassoon

But death replied: “I choose him.” So he went,
And there was silence in the summer night;”

QLove drives me back to grope with them through hell;
And in their tortured eyes I stand forgiven.”

“Sneak home and pray you’ll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.
In ‘Suicide In The Trenches’, Sassoon simultaneously examines the psychological effects of the war and exposes the gulf between soldiers and civilians. His bitterness is palpable as he exploits the hypocrisy of those who do not fight and defends the actions of those who do.” The great, dark, poet of WWI.

Schweik is The archetypal shirking solider of WWII, like the American ‘Sad Sack’ or the British Private MacAuslin, but a darker take, Catch 22 without the humour.

Chauncey Gardiner
CG
Chauncey Gardiner
2 years ago

I went for a run one afternoon, taking a route around the US Capitol that I had taken many times. I stumbled into a “Tea Party” rally. This was 2009. I stuck around to observe the proceedings.
Agreed. Bin Laden had laid out his concept of bankrupting the United States. Some people did notice. Some of them were “Tea Partiers”. And they were right there protesting in front of the Capitol. Never mind that the purveyors of know-all journalism dismissed those people as Nazis.
So, no. This essay is not insightful. The author relishes rolling around in cliches and passes off shallowness as profound thinking.
I just finished reading “Assignment in Utopia” (Eugene Lyons, 1937). Now, *that* was a profound bit of work. Lyons observations in 1937 about the shallow enthusiasm in the West for Soviet-style centralisatiion could just as well have been written today about today’s enthusiasm among Western elites for … centralisation of everything and the attending suppression of individual rights. What may come of our time on the stage is less a “crumbling” of “American empire” but a crumbling of the neoliberal imperialism that masquerades as “Progressivism”. Was spending $300 million on gender studies programs in Afghanistan really a good idea? Was spending $2 trillion on turning Afghanistan into a Progressive Utopia really a good idea? May all of that discredit the Self-anointed Best-and-Brightest. That includes you Aris.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
2 years ago

Couldn’t agree more. Well said

Warren T
WT
Warren T
2 years ago

There is a big difference between the ability to win a war and the desire to win. I hope the author, and OBL followers, realize that the U.S. military could have literally rendered Afghanistan, or any other place on earth for that matter, into an empty parking lot if desired. Ever since WWII, the West simply does not have the will to win a war anymore. And that may be the final nail in our coffin.

Tim Bartlett
Tim Bartlett
2 years ago
Reply to  Warren T

Unlike the Nazis, the Taliban didn’t depend on an industrial base to fight, so what would waves of B52s accomplish? Of course a thousand megatons would win the war, but at what cost? Would you be happy to pay it? Also, theres large chunks of the world who can give as good as they get. Careful you don’t get carried away and send 60 divisions across the border.

Cathy Carron
CC
Cathy Carron
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren T

The West can win wars, but ‘nation building’ is not in the cards.

Jon Hawksley
Jon Hawksley
2 years ago

Interesting reflections on the complete failure to understand Osama Bin Laden. It does though overstate the cost to the US. The costs were mostly for purchases in the US and therefore increased/substituted US economic activity, this is very different from payments going outside of the US. Also it really cannot be US$46 million per wounded soldier? What would be interesting is an article on the current US political spectrum and where Biden (and/or his advisers) sit in it.

Douglas Proudfoot
DP
Douglas Proudfoot
2 years ago

Our leaders never told the truth about the War on Terror. It’s not a war we can win in any conventional sense. It’s a war of “mowing the lawn,” as the Israelis say, of constantly whacking the Islamic terrorists back for as long as it takes to exhaust their rabid desire to kill us.

We could never expect to win in Afghanistan if the Taliban had access to almost unlimited funding from opium sales and winter sanctuary in Pakistan. We never made any serious effort to destroy opium crops controled by the Taliban, nor did we attack their sanctuaries in Pakistan in any systematic way.

US rules of engagement in Afghanistan were a joke. Our soldiers needed approval from lawyers in Florida for artillery and air strikes on positions that were shooting at them. Use of the most effective munitions was limited by the rules of engagement. It was like we had to give our enemies a “sporting chance” to win, at the expense of our own casualties.

We need to get real. General officers need to resign over stupid rules of engagement, and strategies billed as decisive that are guaranteed losers.

The US needs to act like the War on Terror is a Marathon, not a sprint. We need to fight on the cheap, training indigenous forces to fight without hugely expensive US style logistical and technical support. We need to kill terrorists, and help their enemies defeat them in affordable ways. We can’t afford to occupy and nation build primitive countries, primarily because it doesn’t work.

If we feel the need to replace a government in a country, we must be ready to do what it takes. That means ruthlessly eliminating all guerrillas’s funding sources and bombing any sanctuaries in “neutral” countries. If we ain’t ready to do the needful, we shouldn’t play. Our resources are not limitless. We can’t waste any more lives and money on losing strategies.

David McDowell
David McDowell
2 years ago

Insightful journalism and so refreshing.

Galeti Tavas
VS
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  David McDowell

It was not journalism, it was opinion. Do people not even know the difference anymore? With all the MSM being opinion now days, and pretending they still do journalism…. Like this guy, it all is just propaganda, out to change your voting behavior to promote the New World Order of the Post-Modernism, Neo-Marxists.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

“New World Order of the Post-Modernism, Neo-Marxists.”
Dear God. Elvis lives. The moon landings were faked.
Does the US lead the world in gullible, excitable, headcases?

Earl King
EK
Earl King
2 years ago

Very well written. I myself believe the American Empire is over. As for war….America hasn’t totally committed to a war since the Korean War. Even then we fought to a draw. I don’t know what is next for America. We have no leadership…along the lines of the great statesmen of the past. While I would have supported a counter-terrorism operation and basing agreement….Nobody knows what is in store for Afghanistan or the World. This author doesn’t see the world as needing America and yet we are unique in the world with as many diverse people. America needs a foreign policy…..somebody should think about one.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago
Reply to  Earl King

the American Empire is over” – There never has been an American Empire. Exactly what are the areas of American rule over non-citizens? The role of the American World Policeman may or may not have ended. That role has been mighty expensive to the American people. As long as mankind pursues greed, nation states will lust for more control. Few nation states have done as much to counter that lust.
Afghanistan was becoming a stable nation, evolving and growing. Allowed to do so by a modest investment in NATO troops, supported by NATO. Nobody wanted a return of the Taliban and they could have been prevented easily in Dec-Jan 21, but Trump was preoccupied and Biden doesn’t care. The last few years of NATO presence (not occupation) was costing the US $50B but was headed to $20B. Small change in support of stability and a base to monitor neighbors.

L Walker
LW
L Walker
2 years ago

Perhaps the author should apply to the White House. I’m sure Joe would appreciate his kind thoughts here.

Peter Branagan
Peter Branagan
2 years ago

An incisive thought provoking article. Aris (and UnHerd) at their very best.

Galeti Tavas
VS
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Branagan

This one was excellent – as Thought Inducing, and good for Unherd. That it was as much wrong as right is fine, as it forced one (of the few who have that capacity) to think fully of the situation.

To the sheep (the greater number) it was just getting their heads nodding along with the new political Zeitgeist of Biden worship and USA despising.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Is everybody who disagrees with your very narrow views of society and the world at large either a sheep, a Marxist, a MSM stooge or part of some deep seated leftist conspiracy to destroy the west?

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Stop being so dramatic. The US is my favourite country on earth. I think Biden is average. I neither “worship” him nor despise him. You need to stop seeing everything – and everyone – in such simplistic terms.

Martin Terrell
Martin Terrell
2 years ago

Fair if depressing analysis. Would only add that it was I think Trump who called time on the military industrial polity and decided on the withdrawal – I don’t think he would have handled it so badly and he would somehow have the brass to portray this as a victory. The manner of the withdrawal has been more humiliating for US prestige than the fact that this needed to happen (in the absence of any better plan).

Peter West
Peter West
2 years ago

Since the mid 20th Century, since the end of Empire, it has become impossible to win a military war, especially if you are fighting under a flag of liberal democracy. You can destroy a country by war, you can destroy its military and its infrastructure, but then what do you have? You have created a country that is unified in hatred of you – because you have killed family, friends, children – and where being a suicide bomber is a rational career choice. Ask the Israelis.
The Americans have been incredibly successful at winning peacefully and culturally. Look at Vietnam today. Who would think the commuists had won? American culture and particularly American style of business is everywhere.
The Chinese are very smart. Their huge growth of power around the globe has not come by military force, and nor will it. It has come by diplomatic and commercial strategy.
If the US wasn’t so dominated by macho men and the defence industry, it would have seen that a military led foreign policy was doomed to failure – against national governments, let alone against forces like the Taliban and ISIS.
Hopefully Biden will be strong enough to resist any return to the bad old ways.

James Vernier
James Vernier
2 years ago

IMHO, as an American,The Afghanistan debacle was the result of wrong policy choices over many years, not a particular victory for Bin Laden. Neither prominent political party in the US wanted to end the war, their constituents in the Military -Industrial Complex have made a great deal of money from slaughtering the innocent under the guise of “nation building”. Viet Nam was the same kind of undeclared conflict with the same intent, that some may profit from it, and some of the young men, hardly cowards and sissies, were wise enough to realize the foolishness of our imperialistic bent.
I would not exactly declare a victory for OBL. In case you haven’t noticed, he’s dead.

Chris Eaton
CE
Chris Eaton
2 years ago

Bin Laden didn’t win anything: he’s dead. Quite the pyrrhic victory. Even the blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Eaton

The Taliban control more of the country than they did in 2001, America’s reputation as a force is severely weakened and tarnished as it couldn’t even hold an airport without the Taliban allowing them to, it has wasted trillions of dollars and within a generation will possible lose its position as the sole global superpower. Even if Bin Laden isn’t around to see it I’d say he’s been largely successful unfortunately

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Eaton

Ditto Ayman al-Zawahiri….kaboom!

R S Foster
R S Foster
2 years ago

…it is very difficult to win any war without being willing to kill the enemy without mercy, and without any consideration for the finer feelings of the human rights racket…accept heavy casualties yourself if necessary…and completely disregard civilian casualties and related “collateral damage”. Western Democracies do not think they can do this when fighting Wars of Choice in the hope of doing good in the world (although I think we probably should!). We would behave very differently in an existential war…

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
2 years ago

Osama bin Laden’s plan was to turn Muslim countries into shitholes so that eventually the Americans decided that there was nothing worth keeping.
The assumption being made is that the US Government will repay its debt in an honest manner. More likely is that it defaults on its debt by continuing with sufficient QE to keep yields well below the rate of inflation. If that happens then a huge amount of Chinese capital has been sucked in and passed onto American arms manufacturers.
That said, the US is still in trouble from corruption and incompetence.

Igor Resch
Igor Resch
2 years ago

Well, no. This is very much a forced perspective and it’s pretty much incoherent. Not the part of Bin Laden winning in a certain way. He has certainly located the US weaknesses and harnessed them quite successfully.
What Aris completely leaves out, although he certainly is aware of it, is the pathetic way that the Bush administration lost its focus on Afghanistan by starting the Iraq war. It is now clear that they badly wanted to take out Houssein, but it nonetheless was foolish and the worst kind of blunder long-term. Afghanistan was lost back then, in the first ten years of the war, not really in the second. America certainly had the means to fight and win the war. They just were not committed to it, talking about „winning hearts and minds“ and the „nation-building“ cliche.
The quoted NAVY-SEAL who killed Bin Laden is certainly right in that respect, as military conflict is about killing the enemy. You go in and kill everybody. You take them out. This is how it has always have been and it will never change, no matter what flower-power-Hippies want to teach us.
The American century may well be over, and Biden doing everything to bring that about.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago

Although I think much of this analysis is on the mark, Aris’s accepts too much Bin Laden’s propaganda at face value (the failure of the 4th plane to hit the White House for example). And his claim of cowardice of individual American soldiers also seems extremely unlikely. Clearly the propaganda is part of the aggression against the West Al Qaeda and other fanatical groups deploy.

The US has been a beneficent power on the whole in world history (of course self interested, how would that not always be the case?) but supporting freedom, democracy and capitalism.

Among other quite possible alternatives were / are the dominance of Nazi Germany, militaristic Japan and a genocidal and totalitarian Soviet Union, and of course now a totalitarian, cynical and extremely repressive China.

So I can’t share Aris’s seeming glee he expressed at an UnHerd discussion at the end of the ‘liberal order’.

Unfortunately the weaknesses may be unavoidable in the American and perhaps any democratic system, among them a huge overestimate of the likelihood of achieving liberal societies elsewhere (this often pushed by the left), and a complete public intolerance of sustaining even modest casualties, not a factor that is likely to bother America’s enemies too much.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew Fisher
Charles Mimoun
CM
Charles Mimoun
2 years ago

Only failed Europeans can say that America is crumbling in front of the Islamists.

Julie Kemp
Julie Kemp
2 years ago

In part i agree with Aris, although i am by no means a competent thorough-going analyst here.

Last edited 2 years ago by Julie Kemp
Victoria Cooper
Victoria Cooper
1 year ago

As so aptly described in the article killing people does not win wars. Future wars will be about the powers the computer age confers. Investment should be aimed at electronic innovations and self-sufficiency. And super tightening security thereof. China knows.

Karl Wenclas
KW
Karl Wenclas
1 year ago

America remains the indispensable nation.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 year ago

Other than a horrific withdrawal from Afghanistan – they say his generals misunderstood him regarding withdrawing from Bagram Air Force Base – Biden has done Bupkus. This man has no clue, no strategy, no vision for ‘world order’. Biden is no hero.

Jim Cox
JC
Jim Cox
2 years ago

Biden’s badly managed withdrawal has left the world much more likely to be attacked by the Taliban and its allies in terror.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

That oft used picture of Bin Laden bears such an uncanny resemblance to a certain recently deceased Scots Aristocrat, and ex Blue…!!!!

David Taylor
David Taylor
1 year ago

Jonathan Sacks had much the same understanding:. See:
https://mercatornet.com/the_challenge_of_9_11/12365/

Last edited 1 year ago by David Taylor
LCarey Rowland
LR
LCarey Rowland
2 years ago

That ghost who so readily chides our Princes for their inaction is now banished from the realm, thanks to Prince Joe.
Job done, and done as well–as efficiently–as it could have possibly been done.
As for the relics of our 20th-century past: Alas, poor Dulles, we knew him well!

Jim Cox
Jim Cox
2 years ago
Reply to  LCarey Rowland

The job of withdrawal was completely botched. Biden pulled out logistical support for the Afghan air force, then pulled out the U.S. air force BEFORE our American citizens and Afghan interpreters were evacuated. He yielded control of Kabul to the Taliban even they had offered him the chance to control the city. He did not listen to his military advisors and now parades around saying what a great victory he has won. Both houses of Britain’s parliament censured him for this poorly managed departure,
during which he did not return phone calls from Prime Minister Boris Johnson
for three days. Finally, he left billions of dollars of state-of-the-art military equipment for the Chinese and Russians to copy and for the Islamic terror network to use against the West. In his own country he has a 39% approval rating,
56% believe the 2020 election was rigged, and 52% believe Trump won the election.

Andrew Fisher
AF
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  Jim Cox

Of REPUBLICANS!! Not the US population.

Liz Runciman
Liz Runciman
2 years ago

‘With god’s grace’, ‘by god’s will’ , surely these phrases would have been indicators to the man’s irrationality?

Marwan N
Marwan N
1 year ago

Any proof that OBL was actually the one behind 9/11?

Last edited 1 year ago by Marwan N
Emre Emre
Emre Emre
2 years ago

This is a well researched article, I particularly enjoyed the historical analyses of what bin Laden had been saying – not something easily found.
My reading on recent history was that the start of the end of the “War on Terror” was the spectacularly badly managed invasion of Iraq by the American forces. It seemed like they managed to deeply antagonise and upset the balances in a population which pretty much welcomed them with open arms initially after Saddam Hussain. This eventually created the situation where America fought the Iraq War, and China won it – as it was joked about at the time.
It’s not hard to imagine this related to widespread incompetence and lack of cultural knowledge about Iraq and other countries involved (e.g. Afghanistan) in the decision making structure of the occupiers. There was no description for this at the time, today it would be called “white supremacy”. America’s inability to make sense of the rest of the world as exemplified in this case, can indeed in all likelihood, be traced back to its roots in widespread slavery and treatment of native Americans as Woke criticism would see it – which I happen to agree with.
This must’ve become clear today to powers that be, that for American liberal hegemony / benign empire – whatever you call it – to have a chance succeed today, to win the hearts and minds of the people it means to rule, it has to acquire a certain cultural sensitivity, aka it has got to get Woke.
That completes the puzzle to understand how Wokeism relates to the ascent of China, in how previous failures of the crude and inept attempts at exporting liberal democracy abroad led to identification of Wokeism as the next most promising solution.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  Emre Emre

‘Woke’ is an outlook and ideology[?], which has been generated entirely internally in the US and the West. Its practitioners have next to no knowledge about, and less interest in, the non Western world. That is, apart from a general view that only white societies can be evil, racist, imperialist, or whatever.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew Fisher
Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Wokeism hasn’t been entirely generated in the US and the West. Much of the underpinnings did come from French philosophers, But Russia – and even China – have also had a hand in stirring the fire via bots and the internet.