Afghanistan Just Saw Humanity Die
Their own army, their own president, America, and Britain — all left them at the mercy of the Taliban, forever.
*As the initial chaos following Kabul’s fall has subsided, more evidence has come to light. For a more accurate account of the Afghan military’s role, see here: Biden Didn’t Tell You the Truth About Afghanistan*
Like the vast majority of Americans, I wanted America’s “forever wars” to come to an end too. For those people — invaded, bombed, and orphaned — to be able to begin new lives. To be able to live under governments of their own choosing, to have fundamental freedoms we in the West too often take for granted, and to be able to leave the house without fear of death raining from the sky. So when the news initially broke that America was going to withdraw its troops, it was more relief than anxiety. It was a sense that things might — just might — have a chance of getting better. But this — this wasn’t the way to do it.
A bipartisan panel, appointed by Congress to advise Biden on America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, said just that. They told the president not to follow a strict timeline but rather give weight to realistic assessments of the conditions on the ground. In other words, don’t play politics. But playing politics is exactly what Biden did. He can try and spin it any which way he likes, but he chose September 11 for a reason. It was going to stick. He was going to be the president that brought American soldiers back and declared victory on the same day the twin towers fell 20 years ago.
So despite the fact the panel turned out to be right — the Taliban were already seizing territory across Afghanistan in July — Western powers, failing to include Afghans in their evacuation plans, failing to assess the gravity of the situation, remove vital logistical assistance to the Afghan air force and leave without putting a contingency plan in place. Left facing a Taliban army moving through Afghanistan at light speed, the army simply handed over the capital while the president, with a helicopter full of cash, decided to up and run.
And there’s been hell to pay as a result. That Hell may vary, depending on which news channel you tune into. But the shocking, heartbreaking, and near-apocalyptic images coming out of Afghanistan don’t lie. Deserted, left to fend for themselves, Afghan civilians would rather risk falling from airplanes than live under the Taliban. Imagine the desperation, the hopelessness, and the fear that would drive someone to such extremes.
Meanwhile, America and Britain found themselves frantically trying to airlift officials out of an apocalypse largely of their own making. It screams failure, yes. But it reeks of death — not just of those who fell desperately trying to cling to an escape from Hell, or of those who might die at the hands of the Taliban — but of humanity itself.
Because — and to draw your attention back to those gut-wrenching images — reality doesn’t lie. Afghans ran into airports, followed closely by the sound of gunfire, for a reason. They filled the runways, frantically searching for a plane that could take them to safety, for a reason. They know what Hell looks like. They’ve lived in it before. And thanks to the Taliban, Hell has started to make its return. In July, women working in banks were escorted home by gunmen, told never to come back to work. On 15 August, they were told they’d be safe if they wore the hijab. Schools and businesses have been shut. Journalists, stranded in Kabul, are fearful for their families. Afghanistan’s first female mayor lies in wait for death to arrive at her door.
That’s how big America’s failure to include Afghans in its evacuation plans is. That’s how big the betrayal of the Afghan army is. How unforgivable the disloyalty of their president, who was more concerned about his cash than his people, is.
Whether America and Britain would have been able, and willing, to stop the Taliban’s advance dead in its tracks is another question. But nothing can take away from the fact that the Afghans are now alone, at the mercy of the Taliban, forever.
Imagine a scenario where our worst fears come true. Where Afghan women are denied education across the board, denied fundamental human rights, have the Taliban’s interpretation of religion imposed upon them, and are abused in every conceivable way. Or the men — imprisoned, tortured, and executed for potentially posing a “threat” to the new regime. What exactly is the West going to be able to do about it?
Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, suggested sanctions. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the extremist ideologues who’ve taken over Kabul haven’t exactly done it to strengthen the Afghan economy. Threat of invasion then, perhaps? You’d be lucky if that isn’t met with laughter on the part of the Taliban.
This is where you truly understand the significance of the Taliban’s takeover and the manner in which it’s happened. You see, Biden and Johnson no longer hold any leverage. The only ace America and Britain have up their sleeves is their ability to absolutely decimate Afghanistan. And in that case, no one — not the West nor the people crying for help — would win.
It is truly unfathomable to think that, after twenty years of Western presence, endless conflict, and enhanced freedoms, the Afghan people would be plunged into catastrophe once again. That Western leaders would withdraw with such clinical imprecision — that their president would desert them — that their own military would betray them. That they’d be left in circumstances where even those who’d occupied their lands couldn’t save them now. You certainly couldn’t blame the people of Afghanistan for believing humanity was dying.
Nor could you blame them for arguing it’s already dead. Because not only were they left defenseless by all those who were responsible for their defense, the people who could have made a difference in the dying hours didn’t think they were worthy of the effort.
Boris Johnson, in the hours before the Taliban entered Kabul, decided to go on holiday.