Following the two decade long quagmire costing tens of thousands of lives, trillions of dollars, and untold amounts of suffering, Washington’s latest policy shift proves it was all a waste.
Yes, you read that headline correctly. As we approach the one year anniversary of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan it seems as though the United States government is once again playing musical chairs with whom it considers friend or foe. At least this appears to be the case due to a recent article published by AntiWar.com, in which a yet to be named spokesman for the US State Department asserted that the US “does not support organized violent opposition to the Taliban” rule in Afghanistan.
First reported by The Foreign Desk, the statement comes as resistance fighters claim victory over Taliban forces in the Baghlan Province as conflict in the region continues.
After a two day skirmish between Taliban fighters and Afghanistan’s National Resistance Front (NRF) which resulted in heavy Taliban losses and the NRF taking control of Baghlan province’s easternmost district of Khost wa Fereng, in northern Afghanistan, the resistance fighters took to social media to celebrate their victory.
After a victorious operation by the National Resistance Front and inflicting heavy casualties on the #Taliban, the areas of Suchi paayen and suchi Baala in the Khost district of #Baghlan province were captured. pic.twitter.com/U248v80wII
— Panjshir_Province (@PanjshirProvin1) July 7, 2022
Speaking to The Foreign Desk, the State Department spokesperson said ―
“We are monitoring the recent uptick in violence closely and call on all sides to exercise restraint and to engage. This is the only way that Afghanistan can confront its many challenges,”
Continuing on, emphasis our own,
“We want to see the emergence of stable and sustainable political dispensation via peaceful means. We do not support organized violent opposition to the Taliban, and we would discourage other powers from doing so as well,”
Although this position has not yet been publicly acknowledged outside of this interview with The Foreign Desk, as the piece from Anti War notes this is an awkward position for the administration to be in. Considering the last few decades spent vilifying the Taliban as the epitome of evil and the ultimate adversary.
Although also as noted, prior to the 2001 invasion the Bush administration was actually allied with the Taliban, considering them a partner in the war on drugs.
After taking control in 1996, the Taliban banned opium production in Afghanistan. However, after the US invasion opium and heroin production in the country skyrocketed, quickly leading Afghanistan to become the world’s number one producer of opium poppy under the watchful eye of Uncle Sam.
Of course these latest revelations are far from the first time that US has had strange bedfellows with regard to its foreign policy. In fact it’s almost standard procedure. America’s meddling in the affairs of other countries almost reads like a who’s who of how to create your own enemies.
Going back to the end of the Carter administration and continuing to last throughout the Reagan administration, beginning in 1978 the Central Intelligence Agency began a covert program known as Operation Cyclone. Through which it armed, funded, and trained Afghani rebel fighters known as the mujahadeen to oppose the Soviet incursion in Afghanistan. Among these fighters and quickly rising to prominence with US support was none other than Osama bin Laden, and during the Afghan civil war beginning in 1989 following the withdrawal of Soviet troops, the group would splinter into Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
At the same time this was occurring, through the years of 1981 to 1988, the Reagan administration was also directly involved in facilitating both sides of the Iran – Iraq war. Granting permission to Israel to supply American arms to Iran, while simultaneously covertly supplying weapons and funding to the presidency of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, as reported by renowned journalist Seymour Hersh in a bombshell 1992 New York Times exposé.
In hindsight, we see how that turned out…
US relations with Libya ended in a similar fashion. After a tumultuous history exacerbated by being framed by the Mossad as a state sponsor of terrorism, President Muammar Gaddafi emerged in the early 2000’s hailed as an ally in the War on Terror.
Gaddafi had turned Libya into Africa’s wealthiest and most prosperous nation, and was often held in high esteem. Until he insisted on defying the US-led western economic order, intent on creating a gold backed Libyan currency and promoting a unification of all African nations into a singular geopolitical bloc referred to as the “United States of Africa”. Shortly thereafter Gaddafi was once again labeled an enemy and was promptly assassinated in a US backed coup in 2011.
Even at the time, it was hotly debated if the US backing of extremists to remove Gadhafi would create blowback. Fast forward to today, Libya is now a war-torn hellhole, operating as an open air slave market and a safe haven for terrorists.
And finally perhaps nowhere is this chaotic quagmire of American policy more apparent than in Syria. Where in 2013 following the power vacuum left in the wake of Iraq’s destruction, a rebel group crossed the border into Syria where they would be transformed under the auspices of the CIA’s Operation Timber Sycamore from a ragtag militant jihadist group barely capable of supporting itself to one of the most prolific terrorist organizations of the modern age, the Islamic State.
Under the guise of supporting “moderate rebels” to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the United states was facilitating the flow of weapons, money, and even training to radical jihadists that would then be passed on to ISIS terrorists. At the same time, leaked emails show the United states was also covertly partnering with Al-Qaeda while fully aware that its allies in Saudi Arabia and Qatar were actively doing the same with the Islamic State.
To call it a catastrophe would be an understatement. Suffice it to say, Washington’s foreign policy is the epitome of a merger between incredible ineptitude and malignant malfeasance.
So after the 20 year abomination that was the Afghanistan war, it’s anyone’s guess what horrid backlash may come as the result of yet another 180 degree flip on policy if the US truly does commit itself to backing the Taliban once again.
Even post withdrawal, US policy is devastating the country. Currently Afghanistan is in a state of perpetual hell on earth, as America is still waging economic warfare on the nation by withholding seven billion dollars of Afghanistan’s central bank reserves. This has caused the country to fall into a devastating economic collapse, and put half the country into a state of famine so terrible that according to UN World Food Program executive director, David Beasley, it has now become the worlds largest humanitarian crisis. Worse than that of even the horrific US-backed Saudi genocide in Yemen.
While conversely, this shift signals the biggest slap in the face to American servicemen and their families yet. According to Brown Universities’ Costs of War Project, a total of 2,324 US military personnel died throughout the twenty year debacle. With an additional 4,007 private contractors, all to the tune of approximately $2.313 Trillion American taxpayer dollars.
Additionally, it is estimated that a total of 70,418 civilians perished as a result of Americas invasion and occupation. This figure only accounts for direct war casualties. The untold number of deaths as a result of displacement, disease, famine, and other byproducts of the occupation is higher still.
With the signaling of this shift in policy, it now appears that all of this death and destruction was in vein. This horrendous war never should have happened in the first place, and this proves it.
With the sordid history that is American middle eastern foreign policy, a resurgence of support for the Taliban certainly wouldn’t be surprising at this point. Though only time will tell how it may turn out. But if history is any indicator, if the United States truly desires peace and stability in Afghanistan as it claims, the best course of action would be to leave them the hell alone and just let them recover and move on from the generations worth of damage they’ve already caused.