About the war in Afghanistan

Image: Ahmed Akacha


The fall of Kabul on August 15, 2021 was not a surprise.

“Whenever western leaders ask themselves the question, why are we in Afghanistan, they come up with essentially the same reply: “to prevent Afghanistan becoming a failed state and haven for terrorists”. Yet there is very little evidence that Afghanistan is coming stable. On the contrary, the fighting is intensifying, casualties are mounting and the Taliban are becoming more confident” (Gideon Rachman, Financial Times, June 26, 2010).

The fall of Kabul, on August 15, 2021, did not surprise me. In 2010, I wrote an article dealing with the American defeat. Nor does it surprise me that they stayed another 11 years in Afghanistan killing soldiers and civilians and then ending up in this gigantic fiasco of the final withdrawal of their troops, towards new objectives...

Below is the article from 2010.

The numerical and technological superiority of US and NATO forces over the Taliban guerrillas in Afghanistan is abysmal. However, the strategic situation of the US and its allies, after nine years of war, is getting worse every day. In just one month, President Obama was forced to dismiss, for insubordination, the famous Gal Stanley McChystal, whom he had appointed, and who was the symbol of the “new” war strategies of his government.

And now it faces one of the most serious cases of information leaks in American military history, with bloodthirsty details of American troops, and accusations that Pakistan – its main ally – is the one who prepares and supports the Taliban guerrillas. After sending over 30 American troops in 2010, the Allied military situation did not improve; Taliban attacks are increasingly numerous and daring; and the number of dead is increasing. On the other hand, the support of American and world public opinion is dwindling, and some of the main US allies, such as Holland and Canada, have already announced the withdrawal of their troops, and Great Britain itself has been signaling the same direction.

Some time ago, the American general, Dan McNeil, a former Allied commander, declared to the German magazine Der Spiegel, that 400 soldiers would be needed to win the war, and perhaps because of this, almost no one believes in the possibility of a definitive victory anymore. On the other hand, the government of President Hamid Karzai is increasingly weak and corrupted by drug money and American aid, Afghan society is divided between its "warlords", and the current Afghan state can only be sustained with the presence of of foreign troops. And finally, the fight in Afghanistan, against the terrorist networks and against bin Laden's al-Qaeda is also going badly, and is being fought in the wrong place. Today it is clear that the Taliban did not participate in the September 11 attacks in the USA, and they are increasingly distant from Al-Qaeda and the terrorist networks whose leadership and support is mainly in Somalia, Yemen, and Pakistan.

And almost all strategists believe that the withdrawal of troops and the tracking and remote control of terrorist networks that still exist in Taliban territory would be more effective. In short: the possibility of military victory is infinitesimal; the Taliban do not support terrorist attacks against the US and do not have weapons of mass destruction; and there are no strategic economic interests in Afghan territory. For this reason, the War in Afghanistan has become an unknown quantity for political and military analysts.

From our point of view, however, the explanation of the war and any perspective on its future requires a theory and a long-term geopolitical analysis, on the dynamics of the great powers that lead or command the world system, from its origin in Europe, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. In summary:

(1) in this “European” world system, there has never been and will never be “perpetual peace”, because it is a system that needs preparation for war and the wars themselves to organize and expand;

(2) in this system, its “great powers” ​​have always been involved in a kind of permanent war. And in the case of England and the USA, they started – on average – a new war every three years, since the beginning of their world expansion;

(3) in addition, this same system has always had a “war focus”, a kind of “black hole”, which moves in space and time and which exerts a destructive and gravitational force on the entire system, keeping it together and hierarchical. After the Second World War, this gravitational center left Europe itself and moved in a clockwise direction: towards Northeast and Southeast Asia, with the Korean and Vietnam Wars, between 1951 and 1975; and then to Central Asia, with the wars between Iran and Iraq, and against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, during the 1980s; with the Gulf War in the early 1990s; and with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in this first decade of the XNUMXst century.

(4) from this point of view, it can be predicted that the War in Afghanistan will continue, even without the prospect of victory, and that the USA will only withdraw from Afghan territory, when the “warlike epicenter” of the world system can be displaced, probably , in the same clockwise direction.

* Jose Luis Fiori Professor at the Graduate Program in International Political Economy at UFRJ. Author, among other books, of Global power and the new geopolitics of nations (Boitempo).


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