Was the US occupation of Afghanistan an inevitable failure?

In April 2002, George W. Bush explained to a group of US Army cadets that the story of the Imperial military engagement in Afghanistan was “a story of initial success, followed by long years of failure and failure. final failure. We are not going to repeat this mistake, ”he assured them. But we did, Rod Dreher said in Newsweek. In that same speech, Bush pledged that the United States would rebuild war-torn Afghanistan as it did post-war Europe. Yet 20 years and $ 2 billion later, “our nation-building madness” ended in “catastrophe,” with the Taliban returning to the helm and the United States humiliated.

But while the speed of the takeover may have come as a shock, it was still clear that America’s Afghan mission would end badly, as the premise on which it was based – that “all people want individual freedom and share our vision of prosperity “- was fundamentally flawed. Liberal democracy is not “the natural state of humanity, but rather a state of mind that emerges under certain conditions”, and these were simply not present in Afghanistan.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that failure was set in stone, Daron Acemoglu told Qantara.de. But the “top-down” statebuilding strategy adopted by the United States was doomed to failure. Of course, the United States was right that Afghanistan needed a functioning government; where he went wrong was in thinking that he could use his military might to impose one on a country which is known for its ethnic and tribal divisions, and which has a long history of rejection of centralized control.

If the United States had worked closely with local groups, it could have created state institutions with some popular support. Instead, he poured billions into the “corrupt extravagant” and unrepresentative regime led by Hamid Karzai. Ashraf Ghani, the president who fled last month, had written books on repairing failed states – but “continued on the same path” as Karzai.

What few Westerners seem to appreciate is how much suffering has been inflicted on the Afghan people during the 20 years of American occupation, Muhammad Mahmood said in The Financial Express. At least 164,000 people have been killed – by mower drones and B-52 bombers, and by CIA-backed militias, controlled by criminal warlords, who have committed countless atrocities under the pretext of rooting out the Taliban.

There is a feeling in the West that the violent occupation was justified by the benefits it brought to Afghan women, but even these are somewhat illusory: only 2% of women, mostly from the elite backed by the West, have had access to further education; 84% are still illiterate. The Taliban may be brutally repressive, but for many in a weary and bitter nation, they offered stability – and hope for something better than the status quo.

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