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Leaving? Take all of your belongings with you

Rangin Dadfar Spanta

Donald Trump, The President of the United States of America, stated that “Afghanistan is terrorism’s laboratory”. The US will, however, keep its intelligence mission active in the country, even after it withdraws its troops, in order to continue combating terrorist threats. Numerous points about this statement require further consideration:

  1. No invitation was ever sent by the people of Afghanistan for the US to wage a war here; much less a long, grueling war here. The US was attacked by Al-Qaida in 2001, but the forces of Al-Qaida were supported during the USSR invasion in Afghanistan by the US government. A large number of American citizens were, regrettably, killed during the 9/11 attacks. But these were the actions of Arab fundamentalists who, incidentally, were trained by the US, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and their allies. None of the 9/11 attackers were Afghan.
  • After this mass murder of American citizens by Al-Qaida terrorists, a trend of expressing solidarity with the US and unity against terrorism gained traction. Chapter 7 of The United Nations Security Council Charter facilitated a legal intervention by the US and its allies in Afghanistan. The US has since been involved in a bloody, fruitless, and tiresome war in Afghanistan. This war has been the source of destruction, injustice, and unrest. It is the result of bad U.S. strategy for “Grand Middle East” and South East Asia and changes in the approach of the US for the region.
  • Most of our political elite supported the military presence of the US in Afghanistan. This was based on an illusion. The illusion was “maybe we can create a state based on rule of law; that can have proper infrastructure and an ability to grow financially, and we can do it with the US and its allies’ support.” Now, after around two decades, this wish has proven to be an illusion. This wish for Afghanistan proved to be unlike previous experiences in Germany, Japan, or South Korea. A reductionist analysis suggests the US’s poor policies in Afghanistan, it’s leniency towards Pakistan, and the inefficiency of Afghan politicians and an inability of Afghan society to accept liberalism are the reasons for failure of the “Afghan dream.”Nominal democracy has failed in Afghanistan, because the reality is that we cannot establish a proper democracy unless it is led by democrats and democratic struggle.
  • The US centered its War on Terror in Afghanistan from its inception. It limited its anti-terror operations to Afghanistan’s boundaries. The US trained its sights on Afghanistan, but Pakistan, as the country of origin for terrorism, escaped. The United States has provided Pakistan’s army and intelligence service-invasion and conspiracy theory machines- withbillions of dollars of aid. It considersthem strategic allies, rather than placing themunder sanctions. Terrorism’s backbone,far from being reprimanded, received funding instead. Pakistan has, therefore, been able to strengthen and re-equip its military and intelligence service. The US’s leniency towards Pakistanhas failed, and it is now beingforced to withdraw. The US is leaving Afghanistan, however we may phrase it, in the same manner they left Vietnam. This might even be generous. TheVietcong wasa national movement, and after overthrowing the US puppets, replaced them with redeemers. But in Afghanistan’s case, grassroots movements and patriotic forceswill not be the ones governing. The US, unlike in Vietnam, will have lost a “Dirty War”[1] to the Taliban.
  • Widespread corruption, a war-dependent economy, opium, and bribery formed a newaristocratic puppet class in Afghanistan, and added them to pre-existing corruption. Everybody knows the puppets of western countries, their contractors, technocrats, corrupted politicians and racist forces, in coordination with their international supporters, formed a new construct for our society. This new construct separated people from the state and turned politics into a game of dealing with day to day issues. This fact, and the frequent fraud in elections,engendered widespread banality in social discourse and the media,to the detriment of Afghanistan’s people. 
  • This situation, and a continuation of Pakistan’s interventions,reinforced the Taliban and theircrime andcriminalnetwork. They have been able to seize control of more of the country, or at least dysfunctional government units, as a result. 
  • Afghans are tired of this dirty war. However, the United States, Russia, Iran, Indonesia, Uzbekistan, and some other countries have, however, turned the Taliban into an honorable negotiating party in diplomatic stages. This situation was further buttressed by the fact that the Taliban have, in recent times, captured more villages and occupied more districts amid a deterioration of government control.
  • Peace talks with the Taliban have been ongoing since September 2018. It is an irrefutable fact that these talks are a Taliban-US only matter, despite theUnited States Special envoy, Dr. Khalilzad, trying to include Afghan politicians in the process. Two points are top priority of the negotiating agenda: a commitment to not let Afghanistan become a terror center again, and a timeline for the withdrawal of foreign military forces from Afghanistan. Reports arethat both parties are now agreed upon over these points and,we are on the eve of formally seeing the  agreement.
  • The United States’ position as the world’s sole superpower is ending amida failure of its unilateralist policies towards this country and others – policies that were exhibited by the invasion of other countries around the world – a failure in the “Great Middle East”, and the rising of powers of Russia and China. The US cannot play the role of world policeman anymore. Trump has acknowledged this in many of his speeches. Even if the US invades Iran, this slide cannot be reversed.
  1. It is an obvious fact that regional competitors like Iran and international contenders like, China, Russia, and even the European Union do not collaborate with the US anymore. Iran, Russia, and China are competing openly with the US in Afghanistan and other countries. The Asia-Pacific will be the center of international competitions in the Twenty First Century, as even Americanexperts acknowledge. Countries in this region will not be safe from wars and proxy wars initiated by the US, and Afghanistan, for its geo-political importance, surely will not be safe. 
  1. Some aspects of this competition areclearly visible in dealings betweenIran, Russia, and the Taliban. We can also apply the same analysis to the competition between the presidential election candidates favored by Russiain Afghanistan’s upcoming election against the US supported nominee even though these nominees can change their supporters at any instance, because they are not attached to any moral, political or ethical high grounds.
  1. There are other games going on, in addition to the aforementioned competitors In Afghanistan. Pakistan considers all of India’s actions in Afghanistan as threat to itself, even India’s educational scholarships to Afghans. It uses India’s presence to justify itscovertly aggressiveAfghan strategy. India, similarly, worries about Pakistan’sactionsin Afghanistan. Pakistan has, at the end of the day, initiated proxy war in Afghanistan.  Iran also considers the US presence in Afghanistan to be a threat to its own national security. The US and its allies, for their part, are not reluctant to use their presence in Afghanistan against Iran, should their relationship with itworsen. Saudi Arabian “Wahhabism” is in a huge war with Iranian “Shi’ism” in Syria, Yemen, Iraq,and Afghanistan. Saudi Arabia wants to destabilize the eastern borders of Iran. Russia sees the presence of ISIS as national security threat, and a threat against central Asia. Russia also insiststhe US is responsible for bringing ISIS here in order to threaten the Russian Federation and the Commonwealth of Independent States. Leaders of the Russiaclaim this without hesitation.The author of this paper has, after all, heard these concerns in high level meetings. Chinais deeply concerned about eastern Turkistan,where they believe terrorists receivesupportfrom the US and its allies as a proxy against China. All the facts suggest that instead of collaboration, there is a big multilateral Proxy war going on in Afghanistan, and the primaryvictims of this war are Afghan citizens.
  1. Considering these enormous geopolitical considerations, shouldthe US wish to maintain a military and intelligence presencein Afghanistan, Washington would broker an open or closed agreement with the Taliban and Pakistan. Abandoning Afghanistan to a war between Afghans will only exacerbate these international rivalries. Peace and prosperity will evade Afghanistan and the flames of war will rise higher and higher if the US chooses not to do the right thing.
  1. Although the war ofthe past eighteen years has always been painted as a religious or ideological war, I cannot over-emphasize its other causes.The war-dependent economy, opium, and interventions, for example. These causes can easily turn into the beginnings of a proxy war. So we should not fool ourselvesinto thinking that we can havea sustainable peace if we agree to have both the Taliban in power, and a continued US military presence here.
  1. Afghanistan is home torareearth mines that have strategic importance in themodern technological era. If the private shadow economy acknowledge government weaknesses, then it will be up to the private mining companies that will exploit these mines.Even privatizing the war in Afghanistan by relying on American Private SecurityWar companies, amid U.S. intelligence and military presence, will not bring peace, and also the competition for capturing these resources will accelerate the collapse of the state.
  1. I know some may claim that with the US’s withdrawal would also go the achievements of the last 2 decades. National security forces will be weakened, and the government will not be able to mobilize the budget for operation. The story of the 1990s will be repeated again. I admit this could happen. But the situation will, no doubt, be even worse with the continuedpresence of US troops. I am confident the conflict will be bloodier, and the war will continue to be even more destructive, with the US’s involvement. We will not achieve proper independence, so long as the US remains, and even the degree of independence we currently enjoy will be called into question. 
  1. The presence ofUS intelligence services and troops will ensure neither the security of this country nor a just and patrioticgovernment based on law and justice. These services will, no doubt, support the Taliban and will continue to take sides with Pakistan, as they did with Saudi Arabia and other conservativesArab countries. 

Finally, as the United states decide to leave, it would be better to leave here responsibly; leave here and take all your belongings and your consultants, who think this country is their horse’s pasture, with you. Go, and let our children get rid of the ones who think they have signed the concession of human knowledge, the ones who speak a mixture of English, Farsi, and Pashtu. Go, and take with you your puppets who are addicted to bribery; take your burglars; the racists; the liars; the forgers, and your spies. Move, and let us be here, we do not ask for your favor, do not harm us. 

There is a story of Alexander the Great.Once, when he went to visit Diogenes, he found him sun-bathing, Alexander asked if he could do him a favor, Diogenes told him go away and let the sun fold on my skin.

Or as Khalil Ravadi once said:

Shame on me!

Curse on me!

If I ask you something

My only request is give birth control pills to political prostitutes as well

And let not idiots to propagate

Mobilizing for a legitimate resistance against this situation and a democratic campaign to achieve independence seems the only way to overcome these challenges and start anew.

[1]The idiom “dirty war” has been used in different contexts. It is mostly used to illustrate the wars between drug cartels in Mexico and Latin America. So this idiom is different from unjust war, the idiom has been used by redeemers and liberation warriors to condemn the invaders. I use this idiom “dirty war” to describe the very specific war that is going on in Afghanistan, the war that is beyond redemption. This war by the Taliban is not against foreign occupation and it is not a liberation war of any sort. Neither is it a war by the United States for securing peace, or supporting a legal government. There is war, there is blood, and Afghans don’t know why.

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