16.10.2021 Feature Article

Has America retreated (!) or redeployed tactically in Afghanistan?

Has America retreated (!) or redeployed tactically in Afghanistan?
16.10.2021 LISTEN

World media is manifestly devastated having observed the US-created debacle in Afghanistan, and political pundits around the world are comprehendingly lamenting and venting out their concerns after the Taliban takeover. The US-allied forces have already completed evacuation by Aug 31, 2021; nonetheless, it is abundantly clear that the US has failed to achieve its mission in Afghanistan. Allegedly the withdrawal of military power from Afghanistan has ended the "War on Terror (WOT)", but no doubt, another new form of war has already been incited. In fact, nobody likes a defeat, let alone a Superpower. In my article, I will unfold the continuation of the new phase of the war by the West.

In retrospect, on September 20, 2001, the erstwhile US President George W Bush declared the WOT and divided the civilization by proclaiming, " every nation in every region now has a decision to make — either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists". A single affected country shaped the global game of geopolitics and geostrategic. Basically, the WOT exposed the crusade dictum with Islamophobia and xenophobia which was envisioned in Samuel P Huntington's book "Clash of Civilization and the Making of World Order". Huntington also anticipated and made a projection that by 2050, Muslims will be the major religious community in the world. In Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, the WOT was transformed from counterterrorism to counterinsurgency and subsequently to a purported nation-building mission. And President Joe Biden said, "the mission in Afghanistan was never supposed to be nation-building". So, it is undeniably safe to conclude that what the Western leaders said is not what they meant as a mission. In my opinion, there was a hidden agenda in Afghanistan.

In the Middle East (ME), the invasion of Iraq has profiteered the western oil companies and defense industries. And the ultimate goal of the Iraq war was to destabilize the Muslim region by creating a Frankenstein akin to the Islamic State(IS). So, the ME is divided into two confronting cultural ethnicities backed by Shia and Sunni Muslims. The Shia Iran becomes the biggest threat to Israel by forming an anti-Israel political system in the ME and to counter and fend off the mission of Shia militants, IS appeared in the war game. To ensure the smooth war game, the US has waned out its military support from Sunni Gulf allies (milking cows!). Now let's play the game on your own.

In Central Asia, Afghanistan is a vital strategic theatre from where two superpowers could be put under hawkish surveillance. In 1989, Soviet socialist forces were compelled to withdraw from Afghanistan. It is believed that the CIA had invested to strengthen the anti-Soviet forces (Mujahideen) through ISI (Pakistani espionage agency). Former President of Pakistan Mohammed Ziaul Haq strongly demanded that if any Western power wanted to support Mujahideen, it would only do so through Pakistan. The USA favored Sunni militants (Taliban) because they were fighting against anti-US allies having a sensitive stance towards Iran and Shia ethnicity. Now the billion-dollar question is, then why the western powers staged a 20-years-long war on the Taliban?

The answer may be two-fold. First, this WOT made the Taliban more strong, competent, and self-sufficient ideology bearer with a capability to expand its influence beyond its border. The fact was, after 10 years of WOT — the US-allied forces and its puppet government had control over only 29 districts out of 121 which means about 65% of the territory was under the control of the Taliban. Second, the US spent USD 2.26 trillion on its war in Afghanistan, while the US Presidents lied to the countrymen beguiling them as to how wonderfully and successfully the war in Afghanistan was proceeding. But the expenditure in Afghanistan aimed to wash money out of the tax bases of the Westerners through Afghanistan and refund into the hands of the warmonger defense contractors. The US President Dwight D Eisenhower famously quoted, "The United States runs by the whims of the military-industrial complex". Since President G W Bush launched the WOT in September 2001, the top five US defense industries — Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics profiteered, having their share prices increased tenfold in 20 years. These weapon-producing corporations earned 2.2 trillion USD just from Afghanistan.

According to a report released ahead of the 20th anniversary of 9/11, tech giants made billions through contracts with the US military and other government agencies during the so-called WOT. Undoubtedly, the world has sympathy for 9/11 and its victims; however, the modus operandi as to how the inner circle of the Bush administration used media to cash in on the fear-mongering and benefit from the war was rather candidly and unbridledly exposed in Michael Moore's documentary " Fahrenheit 9/11".

In Africa, the Islamic fundamentalists (both Al-Qaeda and IS) have fanned out in all directions. Some African countries are menacingly proximate to fall or surrender under Islamic emirate aspirant militants. The United States is not even faintly concerned about that. It can be seen that the US voice has always favored their geopolitical interest in the end.

The priorities of the USA have shifted from 'WOT' to 'Contain China'. China is investing USD 100 billion in Asia and Africa annually in power, road, bridge, and communication sectors. Under the framework of China's most ambitious Belt and Road Initiative project, it expands its influence from Africa to Asia Minor. Afghanistan would be the gateway for that project towards Asia Minor. The EU has started economic engagement with both Russia and China, which found disfavour to the US. Importantly, the Covid-19 pandemic is a vast new threat to usher in new economic challenges for that Pentagon's fear of terrorism has been eclipsed by concerns for great power competition against China and Russia. So, the policymakers of the US consider that only destabilizing Asia, Europe, and Africa by patronizing the hard-liners Islamic movement can challenge China's economic uprising.

Now if anyone around the world raises questions that which Superpower is very committed to the Muslim Rohingya issue? Which Superpower is only concerned about the Uyghor Muslims in China's Xinjiang province? Which Superpower has killed tens of thousands of Muslims in the ME?

I am sure my article has calibrated its focus with merely zero error to find out the hidden agenda of the West's tactical redeployment in Afghanistan. This is because the US sees the issue of Afghanistan as a quagmire where great powers have found themselves entrapped. Now if the US invests and demonstrates its interest to engage with the repressed Muslims in Asia, definitely that will pave the way to entrap China's growth in this quagmire. The scenario can be paraphrased as a situation where a tiger and the enemy are locked in a cage; whoever dies, surely the Western interests will be benefitted. The West knows the strength of Islam more than the Muslims of Asia.

M A Hossain, political and defense analyst, writes on diversified topics in Bangladeshi and foreign newspapers. His Twitter handle is: @writemah71

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