By FAROOQ TARIQ
It is now evident that the U.S. imperialism has lost all its human and financial investment in Afghanistan. The Taliban have almost occupied Afghanistan without a fight. What has been spent in Afghanistan in the name of development, “democracy” and training of the armed forces for the last 20 years was unprecedented in the history of the world.
According to the Cost of War Project, the United States poured $2226 billion into Afghanistan. This money could have provided basic education and health care all over the world. According to a 2020 report by the U.S. Department of Defense, the United States spent $ 815.7 billion on war expenses. Pakistan’s total foreign debt is currently $ 116 billion; it is 7 times more than Pakistan’s total foreign debt. Despite doing so much, the Americans hasty pull out from Afghanistan and the collapse of Ashraf Ghani’s government imply that all the U.S. investment is now being handed over to the Taliban, without a single bullet fired.
The casualties in this war can be estimated from the fact that by April 2021, 47,235 civilians, 72 journalists, and 444 aid workers had been killed in this war; 66,000 Afghan soldiers also fell victim to this war.
The United States lost 2,442 troops and 20,666 were wounded. In addition, 3,800 private security personnel were killed. Soldiers from 40 countries were taking part in NATO’s Afghan forces. Of these, 1,144 soldiers were killed.
The number of people who sought refuge outside the country is 2.7 million, while 4 million have been internally displaced. The U.S. imperialism lavishly borrowed to fund this war. It paid an estimated $ 536 billion in interest alone. In addition, it spent $296 billion on medical and other expenses for returning combat troops.
[In addition to] the $88 billion spent on training the 300,000 Afghan soldiers who are surrendering without a fight, and the $36 billion spent on reconstruction projects such as dams, highways, etc., $9 billion was spent as compensation so the Afghans should not cultivate poppy and sell heroine. The Americans thought that development would persuade Afghans not to side with the Taliban. But this did not happen (though Taliban popularity was also questionable) and nor did it eradicate poverty. At present, the unemployment rate in Afghanistan is 25 percent and the poverty ratio is 47 percent. These are World Bank estimates.
Although some human progress has been made: For example, the average age [i.e., life expectancy—editors] has risen from 56 to 64 years, and the number of children who die before the age of five has halved. The literacy increased from 8% to 43%; 89% have access to safe drinking water in the cities. It was only 16% before.
Now, whatever the Americans have spent will fall into the hands of the Taliban. Afghan soldiers are leaving their weapons and fleeing; those weapons have fallen into the hands of the Taliban. The Taliban are no longer occupying 1996 Afghanistan but the Afghanistan of 2021, where trillions of dollars have been invested.
This defeat of the Americans cannot be compared to the Soviet Union’s withdrawal from Afghanistan after the 1986 Geneva Accords. The USSR trained forces and men survived in government another 3 years after their departure. Here Ashraf Ghani & Co. has fallen within days once the Taliban offensive started after the withdrawal of American and NATO forces.
The historical lesson of Afghanistan is that the forces created by the direct military intervention of foreign forces cannot defend the country. Soviet forces stay lasted 10 years and failed. For 20 years, the U.S. and NATO forces remained stationed in Afghanistan, their trained Afghan army dispersed without a fight.
The reason is clear: the Afghan people and soldiers had no ideological basis to fight. Ashraf Ghani & Co. were involved in mega corruption. The class divide was sharp. Afghans did not fight for the Americans, how could they fight for their agents?
Ashraf Ghani & Co. represents the worst form of capitalism. The Taliban, on the other hand, who, despite all their brutality, were able to cleverly exploit religion. They had an idea of a religious state. Ashraf Ghani could never make it clear which state he wanted.
The Taliban’s victory is bad news for the progressives around the world. Criticism of American agents is not intended as a support of the Taliban. Opposition to both will continue. Only the victory of a truly democratic socialist ideology can stop the future bloodshed in Afghanistan.
The Taliban’s victory is not a sign of peace but a message of perpetual civil war. The establishment of another religious fanatic state in South Asia will promote religious sectarianism throughout the region and anti-peace measures will continue.
15 August 2021
Reprinted from Europe Solidaire Sans Frontieres: http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article59191
Photo: A Taliban fighter on the road in Herat, Aug. 13. (AP / Getty Images)