Guest View: Rise of the Taliban and defeat of the U.S. – The Register-Guard

M. Reza Behnam| Guest View

The most powerful military in the world has been defeated by men in sandals in a desperately impoverished country about the size of Texas with a population of more than 37 million. The Taliban victory has also dealt a blow to Americas pursuit of hegemony in the Middle East and to its power globally.

The chaos at the airport in Kabul, caused by Americas sudden withdrawal from Afghanistan, has not shifted attention away from the fact that the Taliban have won a decisive military and political victory over the foreign invaders. In addressing the nation, President Joe Biden stated that he had factored in chaos in his withdrawal plans a remark that runs counter to his promise to adhere to a humane foreign policy.

Americas 20-year occupation of Afghanistan has ended. President George W. Bushs war on terror, which began with the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, was built on lies. At home, the absence of truth has given rise to distrust of government and has further weakened the political and social fabric of the country.

Reflection has not been Americas, especially Washingtons, mtier. It is important to weigh the reasons behind Americas colonial adventure in Afghanistan and why it was destined to fail.

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The military mission in Afghanistan has been about defending U.S. geopolitical and economic interests in the region. It has not been, as we have been told, about democracy, freedom and defending human rights.

To understand Washingtons interest in Afghanistan, it is important to recognize the countrys strategic geographical location. Afghanistan at the crossroads of Asia connects the Middle East with Central Asia and India. It is near the Caspian Sea region, reported to contain the second largest reserves of petroleum and natural gas in the world.

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Afghanistan is well-situated for oil and gas pipelines pipelines that can bypass Iran and Russia. Since the 1980s, Washington has fashioned numerous pipeline plans that have been delayed or canceled due to political, military or financialproblems.

In 1979, the United States established a military presence in Afghanistan in order to keep the Soviet Union out of the oil-rich Persian Gulf. In that year, the United States armed and financed the mujaheddin which included young Pashtun Taliban to overthrow and fight the Kremlin-supported Communist government in Kabul. In so doing, the United States successfully lured the Russians into a 10-year military quagmire in Afghanistan.

The collapse of the Communist government in 1989 paved the way for Taliban control of Afghanistan in 1996. And in a twist of fate, Washington found itself fighting the Taliban forces it had helped create.

During the 1990s, the United States was willing to overlook the repressive practices of the Taliban government in order to maintain a presence in Central Asia and to move ahead with pipeline access through Afghanistan.

The United States has established military bases throughout the Arab Middle East, Israel, Turkey, Central Asia, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Forced to exit Afghanistan, the United States has been deprived of its Afghan base in Central Asia. A lingering question is whether Washington negotiated some future pipeline security with the Taliban before withdrawing.

The Taliban have derailed Washingtons hegemonic plans for the Middle East and Central Asia. China and Russia are now positioned to solidify their presence in the region and to acquire the pipeline access, which has been so coveted by the United States.

It is contrary to reason for Washington to claim that it has been in Afghanistan to benefit the people when tens of thousands of Afghans, who had nothing to do with 9/11, have suffered profoundly because President Bush decided to invade and build a nation transform the government and society in Americas image.

The oppression of women under former Taliban rule is often cited to defend Americas occupation of Afghanistan. U.S. bombs, however, have not discriminated they have been gender-neutral.

That 34 Afghan provinces fell to the Taliban without a fight is evidence that no guerrilla insurgency can win victories without popular support. As the only organized force fighting the American occupation, Afghans turned to the Taliban to provide peace, order and security. They chose the Taliban over foreign occupation. Ultimately, the United States was defeated by the injustice, corruption, inequality and violence brought by the war and their occupation of Afghanistan.

M. Reza Behnam, Ph.D., is a political scientist whose specialties include American foreign policy and the history, politics and governments of the Middle East.

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Guest View: Rise of the Taliban and defeat of the U.S. - The Register-Guard

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