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Failures trail in wake of US' chaotic pullout

By XU WEIWEI in Hong Kong | China Daily | Updated: 2021-09-02 09:58
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Hypocrisy becomes abiding memory of double standards in Afghanistan

Paratroopers assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division prepare to board a US Air Force C-17 to leave Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan August 30, 2021 in a photograph taken using night vision optics on August 30, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

The United States' rash end to its longest war this week can't mask the country's failures in counterterrorism in Afghanistan and the consequences that come from imposing its will on others, analysts said.

"The final withdrawal of the US military from Afghanistan closes another traumatic chapter in the history of that country and constitutes an opportunity for a new beginning in the quest for stability, peace and development of the Afghan nation," said Salman Bashir, a former foreign secretary of Pakistan and former ambassador to China.

"Afghanistan should never again become an arena for geopolitical games."

Twenty years ago, the US invaded Afghanistan in the name of fighting terrorism. With a traumatic evacuation of mostly foreign citizens from Kabul airport having wrapped up on Tuesday, the Taliban are once again acknowledged as the governing force of Afghanistan.

It is ironic that the US, after spending trillions of dollars, killing about 30,000 civilians and leaving millions homeless, has allowed the once-toppled Taliban to return to power, said Mustafa Hyder Sayed, executive director of the Pakistan-China Institute. Sayed also noted the US lost more than 2,000 soldiers in the two-decade conflict.

Afghanistan is a good example of the double standards that the US exercises and the doom that comes from its hypocritical imposition of its own will and values upon others by force. US foreign policy is not based on principles or ethics, but on political interests that often override the interests of ordinary people and cost lives, he said.

No more foreign rule

When it was in the US' interest, the White House and the Pentagon turned the Afghan Taliban into an enemy, even though it had once made them a partner, he said.

The Mujahedeen-from which the Taliban emerged in the 1990s-was known to have grown with US support to counter Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s. But the Taliban, as the militants' successors, were uprooted by the US-led invasion in late 2001.

Sayed said the US should stop its regime-change endeavors.

Amina Khan, director of the Centre for Afghanistan, Middle East and Africa at the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad, said that after two decades of bloodshed and instability, "one thing is clear: Afghans never accept foreign rule".

According to Imtiaz Gul, executive director of the Center for Research and Security Studies in Pakistan, the Afghan Taliban had been waiting for this moment for years and had been urging the US to fulfill its commitment on troop withdrawal.

Wang Peng, a researcher at the Center for American Studies with Zhejiang International Studies University, said the two decades of war waged by the US against all Islamic nations have come to an end. Wang groups with Afghanistan the US' roles in the second Iraq War that began in 2003 and the social-political "color revolutions" and regime changes associated with the Arab Spring.

Many in the United States expect that their officials will learn from these hard lessons, Wang said. In the future, when Washington's decision-makers look to wage a new war, or replace one regime with another, they better think twice before they act, the academic said.

While the US' war in Afghanistan may be over, that doesn't mean the end of the country's accountability for the Afghan people. The deadly suicide bombing at the Kabul airport on Aug 26 portends US failure in eliminating terrorists in Afghanistan, its major goal from 2001, and further troubles for Afghans.

The US can contribute to the development of Afghanistan, as the end of war is "a historic opportunity", Khan said. "At the same time the real test for Afghanistan has begun."

The country has tremendous economic potential, which can be realized with the cooperation and support of its neighbors and the international community, the academic said.

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