Trade Wars

The US war in Afghanistan is over, but who won?

Conventional armies lose if they don’t win, and guerrillas win if they don’t lose, said Henry Kissinger.

Saigon’s fall was six years away at the time, but the legendary statesman has already detected the principle behind multiple guerrilla wars, including the one he helped end.

This principle – according to conventional wisdom – explains how Israel was defeated in Lebanon and how the United States and its allies were defeated not only in Vietnam, but before that in Cuba, and now in Afghanistan.

Well, in all of these cases the conventional wisdom is wrong.

America is retreating, and the Taliban, the American Islamist militia dethroned 20 years ago, are filling the void. Government troops are demoralized. Thousands of people abandoned their outposts and equipment. Some commanders have made deals with the Taliban.

The Afghan army seems less and less relevant. Fearing retaliation from the Taliban, thousands of helpers from the US military rush to their homeland’s exits – the most ambitious seeking paths to America, others to neighboring Tajikistan. US investment in building and equipping the Afghan army is collapsing.

So yes, if all this reminds me of South Vietnamese citizens pushing each other to ride the last American helicopter to the top of the embassy in Saigon, or South Lebanese army officers rushing towards the border fence. Israel is because the situations are indeed very similar.

US President Joe Biden marked September 11 as the deadline for the completion of the withdrawal, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that sparked the US invasion of Afghanistan.

The odyssey will therefore finally come to an end, but the feeling of closure will not compensate for the feeling of defeat, especially seen with 20 years of hindsight.

Unannounced punches in the stomach and nose, the United States made big mistakes, strategically, militarily and politically, in the fall of 2001.

Strategically, the United States went to two wars in two totally different arenas. It was an overshoot that even the superpowers must try to avoid. Militarily, the United States downplayed the topographical advantage that the rugged mountains of Afghanistan would offer its guerrillas. And politically, the assumption that America was able to reprogram the government of another country has proven to be unfounded.

The consequences of all this are more than 2,400 American deaths, more than 450 other Allied deaths, more than 20,000 American soldiers injured and some $ 800 billion in global costs, all to see the military being trained by the United States. collapse as the Taliban return to Afghanistan’s helm.

How, then, can we say that it is not a defeat?

TO UNDERSTAND the ultimate guerrilla defeat, just look at Vietnam.

Yes, in 1974 North Vietnam seemed victorious, having seen South Vietnam collapse, the US military retreat and all foreign embassies relocated to Hanoi. However, over the next decade, the cause the North fought for – communism – collapsed.

And with the collapse of its guiding principle, the seemingly victorious Vietnamese government fell to its knees, begging then-President Bill Clinton to establish diplomatic relations between Washington and Hanoi.

With the demise of the Soviet Union and the demise of the Eastern bloc, the former guerrillas lost their main trading partners and timidly conceded that they would have no future without Uncle Sam. Uncle Sam a accepted and is now the friend of a Vietnamese capitalist. So who won ?

Yes, as Kissinger observed, the guerrillas had a military advantage. However, when the time came to move from war to peace, the guerrillas failed and went hat to hand towards the enemy they claimed to have defeated.

The same thing happened with Cuba.

Yes, Fidel Castro’s guerrillas overthrew the corrupt Fulgencio Batista, despite his American support. However, a generation later it turned out that in the greatest war, the war of ideas, Cuba was defeated, as Castro himself legalized business ownership, entrepreneurial credit, and the use of money. dollar demonized.

The same thing happened in Lebanon.

Yes, Israel withdrew, and yes, some Lebanese felt that they – unlike Egypt, Syria, Jordan and the Palestinians – had defeated the Jewish state. It is the same delusional thinking that made the Cuban and Vietnamese leaders believe that they had defeated America, and its consequences now appear in the same grotesque manner.

Ostensibly victorious Lebanon is a country on its knees. Drivers spend hours in queues outside gas stations, electricity regularly drops for hours, people say they are skipping meals, government currency reserves have evaporated and the pound, which is now trading at over 15,000 to the dollar, has lost over the past two years. alone 90% of its value.

It is the result of a country whose rulers, like those of Cuba and Vietnam in their day, invented an enemy and led him into a war their society and economy could never afford. Is there any doubt that Afghanistan is now heading in the same direction?

Yes, America made mistakes in Afghanistan. It was wrong to install a foreign government, it was wrong to pit a conventional army against guerrillas, and it was wrong to fight simultaneously in Kabul and Baghdad.

But the invasion also had achievements. Al Qaeda, which the Afghans refused to expel, has been routed along with its leader, and America has shown the world that if attacked it will retaliate, with its many allies by its side.

Yes, the Taliban will say they expelled America, conveniently forgetting that America never intended to rule Afghanistan. He came there to stem the onslaught of Islamism not against Afghanistan, but against all mankind, and that goal has been achieved.

As for Afghanistan itself, it will have to fight its cancer alone. This is what the Cubans learned after John F. Kennedy’s Bay of Pigs fiasco, this is what the Lebanese learned after Menachem Begin’s Operation Peace for Galilee, and this is what the Afghans will have learned by the time their sad country emerges from the dark era. he will enter the morning after leaving America.

Amotz Asa-El Mitzad’s bestseller Ha’ivelet Ha’yehudi (The Jewish March of Madness, Yediot Sefarim, 2019) is a revisionist story of the leadership of the Jewish people from ancient times to modern times.