Indeed, America and its allies are not content with the war’s outcome; however, it must be a relief for the people of America to know that the troops are making their way back home. The success of the Taliban in Afghanistan is less of a victory for the Taliban and more of a failure for the Afghan administration, America and their allies. Mainly, it is the failure of American think tanks and their analysts. As part of their policy-making process, America underestimated the Taliban’s potential and miscalculated the ability of the Afghan administration to restrain the Taliban.
The decision to retrograde in Afghanistan was based on three major reasons. Firstly, the American administration was finally convinced that there was no military solution in Afghanistan; however, after 20 years of failed attempts at eliminating the Taliban. Secondly, they were confident in the Afghan administration and their military capability. The speech by Joe Biden on July 08, 2021, reflected these prejudices, “We provided our Afghan partners with all the tools — let me emphasize: all the tools, training, and equipment of any modern military.” Thirdly, America believed that they had achieved their purpose in Afghanistan. Their fight was against Al-Qaida, and as far as the use of Afghan soil against America, they were assured by the Taliban leadership that it would not be used against anybody.
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It seems like the change in American policy on the Taliban was driven by the emergence of the Taliban as a diplomatic and political force. Previously, the Taliban were incapable of diplomatic dialogue; however, early this year, they were able to harness political support from China, Pakistan, and Russia. Interestingly, Iran was no less than an enemy during the Taliban’s first regime; however, they convinced Iran that they were no longer a sectarian threat to Shia Muslims of Hazara and were not planning on fighting them.
Moreover, it would not be impartial to blame the administration of Joe Biden only for the withdrawal of forces in Afghanistan. The withdrawal of troops was announced by former President Obama on May 24, 2014. Strategically, this was the movement when America’s stance in Afghanistan started to change. Trump followed suit and tried his best to exit with a series of negotiations; however, he was unwilling to give in on the pretext that the Taliban might emerge as a strong force in regional politics and signalled a prolonged war in Afghanistan. Trump emphasized that US withdrawal would be determined by “Conditions on the ground,” and not on arbitrary timelines.
In contrast, the current administration seemed reluctant to give a timeline. Perhaps the decision to withdraw was not timely; however, it was essential for America to make a rather calamitous call finally. The administration of Joe Biden should be commended in part to realize that America was not winning the war. It was fruitless to stay in Afghanistan even after the American mission has supposedly achieved its primary purpose. Moreover, America pledged to assist the local administration on humanitarian and political grounds in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, although it was not the primary purpose of American mission. Now, the future of Afghanistan is in the hands of Afghanistan, and from an American perspective, they are responsible for it; however, it would rather depend more on how the Taliban aims to move forward.