A human drama set in Afghanistan

The American nation retreating

Over the past few days, we here in the West have seen horrific images of unbelievably traumatic situations, which certainly cannot be ignored.

The greatest American nation did as if they had to lose most of their soldiers and money in holding their position in Afghanistan. I can understand that after twenty years of presence in Afghanistan they feel that it has been enough and that they do not want to invest in it anymore. But to give the impression they were undermining their country by staying over there and creating a huge deficit is very much exaggerated.

Compared to the number of European soldiers and the investment those nations are putting in it, it would be much more demanding for them than for the United States of America. I do agree that the two trillion dollars they invested in that war on terror, is a lot of money, but when you see that this was spent across two decades, it gives us an average of one hundred billion dollars per year. When you know that the United States Federal Government’s total outlays between 2001 and today stands at $74.11 trillion {according to the website Statista}, this has been peanuts for the U.S.A., Afghanistan accounting for around three and a half percent of all spending (that the government admits to, discretionary expenditure would probably lower the figure) during the last two decades. American politicians claim that America had to leave Afghanistan because otherwise we would find the American soldiers again fighting a so-called “forever wars” like the country had with the protracted conflict that pitted the communist government of North Vietnam and its allies in South Vietnam, resulting in the Vietnam War from 1954–75, in Vietnam called the “War Against the Americans to Save the Nation”.

The U.S. military budget is larger than that of the next 11 highest spending nations combined. It has at least 800 foreign military installations around the world.
In 2016 it had “special forces” operating in almost 140 countries. In many foreign capitals, the most important political figure is the U.S. ambassador.

Like all empires in history, the U.S.A. does not have to “win” every war on its periphery. Its military’s primary geopolitical purpose is to demonstrate the empire’s capacity and willingness to inflict murderous punishment on those at its edges that who challenge it.

Vietnam experience

After Viet Minh troops under Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap had overrun the French base at Dien Bien Phu, on May 7, 1954, Vietnamese forces brought an end to nearly a century of French colonial rule in Indochina. Soon a propaganda war began and left Europeans and American to believe the U.S.A. had good reasons to fight against encroaching communism and wars to expect. The Americans thought they could demoralise the enemy, but that enemy was much stronger and more inventive than they ever had imagined.

In 1968 CBS Evening News anchor Walter Cronkite, warned already that it seemed more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam was to end in a stalemate.

The American forces like the Vietnam forces did not mind to overstep their bounds. both parties went beyond their remit and killed innocent unarmed citizens. This made several American and European citizens protest against that ridiculous war, which did not seem to come to an end. The antiwar demonstrations represent the largest public protests in U.S. history to date.

March 29, 1973, was the signal to bring an end to over a decade of fighting, by which some 58,000 U.S. troops had been killed. Vietnamese casualties included more than 200,000 South Vietnamese troops and more than 1,000,000 North Vietnamese soldiers and Viet Cong irregulars. Civilian deaths totalled as many as 2,000,000.

South Vietnamese refugees walk across a U.S. Navy vessel. Operation Frequent Wind, the final operation in Saigon, began April 29, 1975. During a nearly constant barrage of explosions, the Marines loaded American and Vietnamese civilians, who feared for their lives, onto helicopters that brought them to waiting aircraft carriers. The Navy vessels brought them to the Philippines and eventually to Camp Pendleton, Calif.

In 1975 American troops fixed-wing aircraft began evacuating civilians from Tan Son Nhat Airport through neighbouring countries. On 28 April, Tan Son Nhut Air Base (next to the airport) came under artillery fire and attack from Vietnamese People’s Air Force aircraft. The fixed-wing evacuation was terminated and Operation Frequent Wind began.

Saigon-hubert-van-es.jpg

CIA officer helps evacuees up a ladder onto an Air America helicopter at 22 Gia Long Street on 29 April 1975.

You would think that evacuation of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) as the United States ended its involvement in the Vietnam War, would still be fresh enough in the minds of the American generals.
On April 29, 1975, American personnel began converging on more than a dozen assembly points throughout the city. Over the next 24 hours, some 7,000 Americans and South Vietnamese were flown to safety. We remember pictures of people climbing on a tower to get into helicopters. The evacuation was the largest helicopter evacuation in history. It was an incredible chaos, before already the following morning, North Vietnamese troops entered downtown Saigon and the South Vietnamese government surrendered unconditionally.

Susceptible to repetition

Strange to see that the U.S.A. had already a serious experience with another unending war, where they also withdrew in a hurry. Then to see in 2021 they had not learned from their own experience nor from the experience of the Belgians who also had to leave Belgian Congo in 1960 in a hurry.

On 13 January 1959, King Baudouin had promised the African nation that Belgium would work towards the full independence of the Congo “without delay, but also without irresponsible rashness“. On 30 June 1960 at the new residence of the Governor-General of the Belgian Congo in Léopoldville, the hand-over ceremony by the Belgians took place. One week later, a rebellion broke out within the Force Publique against its officers, who were still predominantly Belgian. This was a catalyst for disturbances arising all over the Congo, mainly instigated by dissatisfied soldiers and radicalised youngsters. In many areas, their violence specifically targeted European victims. Everywhere, chaos resulted and people had to flee for their life. Within weeks, the Belgian military and later a United Nations intervention force evacuated the largest part of the more than 80,000 Belgians who were still working and living in the Congo.

Also from that evacuation, nobody seemed to have learned something to tackle the situation now in Afghanistan.

Evacuation from Afghanistan

The American government want people to believe that the only choices for Afghanistan were a massive occupation or an immediate withdrawal. They ignore the reality on the ground and ignored previous evacuations in other countries. America was not waging “endless wars” in Afghanistan any more than they were waging endless wars in South Korea, Germany, or Japan — or Kosovo, or Honduras, or any number of other nations where they have forward-deployed forces.

This time there was no oil involved to continue the battle, like in the Iraq War, also called Second Persian Gulf War, (2003–11), which overthrew the authoritarian government of Saddam Hussein (Ṣaddām Ḥusayn al-Tikrītī), whose brutal rule was marked by costly and unsuccessful wars against neighbouring countries. In 2008, President Bush agreed to a withdrawal of all US combat troops from Iraq. The withdrawal was completed under President Barack Obama in December 2011.

Now ten years later we are looking at the withdrawal of the American and Allied Nato forces from the landlocked country at the crossroads of Central and South Asia, bordered by Pakistan to the east and south, Iran to the west, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to the north, and Tajikistan and China to the northeast. Already long before the Americans invaded Afghanistan the country had high levels of terrorism, poverty, child malnutrition, and corruption.

After 9/11

WTC smoking on 9-11.jpeg by Michael Foran on Flickr

The reason to enter Afghanistan was to kill Osama Bin Laden, the man behind the terrorist acts by the Wahhabi Islamist terrorist group al-Qaeda, which brought the U.S.A to a stand still. The destruction of the World Trade Center and nearby infrastructure was able to create a global economic recession. Many closings, evacuations, and cancellations followed, out of respect or fear of further attacks.

Osama bin Laden found that America in particular had an unspeakable hatred for Islam, which was the hatred of crusaders. Therefore

Terrorism against America deserves to be praised because it was a response to injustice, aimed at forcing America to stop its support for Israel, which kills our people.

Collapse of the towers as seen from across the Hudson River in New Jersey

Because Bin Laden said he had personally directed his followers to attack the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, America was keen to go to find and kill him. After a 10-year manhunt, U.S. President Barack Obama announced that bin Laden was killed by American special forces in his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 1, 2011.

In their

“Need to move swiftly”

ISAF’s military terminal at Kabul International Airport in September 2010.

ISAF-Logo.svgall places where the Americans could find possible Islamic terrorists were targetted. This resulted on October 7, 2001, in the Afghanistan War when U.S. and British forces initiated aerial bombing campaigns targeting Taliban and al-Qaeda camps. This seemed to be a successful action, eventually leading to the overthrow of the Taliban rule of Afghanistan with the Fall of Kandahar on December 7, 2001, by U.S.-led coalition forces.
The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was initially charged with securing Kabul and the surrounding areas from the Taliban, al Qaeda and factional warlords, to allow for the establishment of the Afghan Transitional Administration headed by Hamid Karzai. The majority of Afghans supported the American invasion of their country. In the West some thought the Taliban regime could come to an end. Thousands of NATO troops remained in the country to train and advise Afghan government forces. But as soon as the Americans told in the press that they were going to leave, nothing was seen of the trained Afghan troops. Suddenly out of the blue, the Taliban scored one victory after the other.

As happened more before, the real motivation for the US to remain militarily in Afghanistan was not to install ‘democracy’ (or guarantee ‘women’s rights’), but to facilitate a regime and a military force loyal to US political and economic interests in a geostrategically important location. Control of Afghanistan would give the US access to the Caucasus in the north, to Iran in the west and to China in the east. Altruism does not figure in the play. Democratic nation-building is seen in this strategy merely as a means to an end.

Resistance to the foreign presence was never completely crushed in the last two decades. The war against resistance continued to rage and the longer the foreign troops remained in the country, the more the resistance was able to expand, because, as in the days of the Soviet invasion, it could assume the mantle of nationalist liberator against the foreign occupiers, which aroused sympathy among a significant part of the population. Many Afghans – including Taliban opponents – regarded the continuing foreign military occupation as unjustified and brutal.

The US-NATO air war, which claimed many tens of thousands of Afghan civilian casualties, helped ensure that the resistance never suffered from a lack of recruits. In this respect, the US war in Afghanistan was simply counterproductive.

Growing up to go back to square one now

The country was able to restore itself and its economy is now the world’s 96th largest, with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $72.9 billion by purchasing power parity; the country fares much worse in terms of per-capita GDP (PPP), ranking 169th out of 186 countries as of 2018.

A number of humanitarian indicators have improved over the past decade.  Since the American and NATO troops were there the condition for the citizens became much better and children, in the last few years, could go back to school again.  Being a strongly patriarchal society, Afghanistan could find some improvements for women.  The women also got in a sense some more freedom and even could work themselves into the judiciary and the parliament – in which, according to the constitution of the Ghanaian government, 25% of women must sit – and is populated by misogynistic fundamentalists.

Also not bad, was the improvement of medical provision, making it possible to rise the average life expectancy which was in 2010 44.6 years, to 64.8 years by 2020. Yet Afghanistan remains at the bottom of the United Nations ‘Human Development Index’ list. In 2020, the country ranked 169th out of 189 countries.

In terms of health and income, certain, mainly urban groups are better off. However, 55% of the approximately 48 million Afghans still live in multi-dimensional poverty, 38.2% of children under five are malnourished (exactly the same figure as 10 years ago) and the adult literacy rate (over 15 years) is 43% (an increase of just over 10% compared to 2010).

It is known that in the Taliban territories, a strict interpretation of Sharia law is applied with punishments of execution and mutilation. The inhabitants of Afghanistan have good reason now to fear that the country is going back to the previous centuries where women are denied access to education and employment. They already had witnessed on several occasions that women who did not abide by the strict rules were publicly and violently punished during the previous Taliban rule (1996-2001).

Weaponry

The US has lost considerable stockpiles of weapons in Iraq, Syria, Vietnam, Lebanon, and as early as 2014 was already discussing the possibility of abandoning equipment in Afghanistan. They were not afraid because they knew that for the more advanced equipment like vehicles and aircraft, the Afghans nor Taliban would have no means of maintaining them even if they can learn how to use them. Some clever Afghan mechanics might learn how to fix parts of them but Afghanistani would not be able to acquire or make more parts, the Americans think. The small arms are a different story. They’re comparatively simple and very durable. They’re much smaller and much easier to use. The last few weeks we could see the marching Taliban militants with Belgian, Russian and American weapons, of which they showed them high in the air and shot already several times in the air but also directed at people.

According to some the idea of the Taliban using Apaches and Humvees to invade anybody else is pretty silly.

They might joy ride on them for awhile but when mechanical problems arise that’s it they’re junk.

When wars come to an end

One would expect that when wars come to an end or a calamity is over, people would have reason to celebrate. But what we have come to see from Afghanistan is nothing at all to be happy about.

In the media, we are flooded with very painful images of desperate people clinging to anything that can take them to a better world than the one they expect to get under the Taliban regime. We see desperate mothers throwing their babies over the wired fences in the hope that American or English soldiers would bring them in safety and give them a free ticket to the “better world”.

Those pictures at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul reminds us of the pictures of the evacuations of Saigon and Congo Brazzaville. Even the soldiers find it heartbreaking and we hear from them that many at night are crying and are suffering under this traumatic experience.

It looks like once again we can witness again an America’s pull-out which can be described as ignominious and clumsy.
Republicans blame Democrats and Democrats blame Republicans. Pundits blame the lies and self-deception of three presidential administrations, military incompetence, Afghan government corruption, Pakistani duplicity, an inept CIA, Americans’ ignorance of local culture etc., No doubt all contributed.
People in the West or in the so-called “civilised countries” should learn that they can not and/or may not impose their way of life on others. We could witness the U.S. governing class’s insistence on maintaining world hegemony, now showing defeat. And the danger is now that they are going to go without helping those who have helped them for many years. It would be very cowardly if they would leave so many Afghans to stay in the country now mastered by the Taliban.
In case they leave a lot of helping hands behind, those when not killed by the Taliban, could change camp and become enemies of those Americans and all those who left them behind in the hands of Islamist terrorists.

A race against time

After every setback, the U.S. political class reaffirms its commitment to promoting peace, human rights and democracy with bombs, bullets and killer drones. And promises to do better “next time.” But what we always come to see is that in many counties the U.S.A. comes to interfere and comes to create chaos.

The time is short for many Afghans and other nationalities to leave the ‘very hot’ country. For how many days shall we be confronted with Afghans escaping with their whole lives in a single piece of hand luggage, and the UK soldiers who face a race against time to extract as many people as they can? Those who shall be able to escape Afghanistan probably shall never come to see their home country.

For countries that want to help the Afghans immediately, a first concrete step is to take in refugees. NATO Member States that were involved in the war, such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, France and the United Kingdom and thus directly contributed to the perpetuation of the conflict, should even feel morally obliged to do so. A general regularisation of Afghan refugees who are already here is another logical measure.

High urgency for targeted rescue

It is high time to secure the airfields and get as many souls out as possible. Time is short.

On August 16 the media showed people clinging to and even tied to the undercarriages of US airplanes at the Kabul airport. The C-17 Globemaster III transport planes were taking off for Qatar, one after the other, some partially empty, and people fell down from heights in the sky as the aircraft retracted the landing gear.

The world should know that there were an estimated 50 “plane-hitchers, who in their hope the plane would not take off, found their death.

When one sees the crowd gathering around the national airport, one can imagine it shall be impossible to get them out of Afghanistan before the first of September. But according to defence secretary, Ben Wallace shall it be “unlikely” that the 31 August deadline, to remove troops from Afghanistan, will be extended. For many, it is also clear that it is getting “more and more dangerous.”

Speaking to Sky News, Ben Wallace said:

“As we get closer it’s correct to say the security risk goes up, it gets more and more dangerous.

“Add-on groups and other terrorist groups like ISIS would like to be seen taking credit, would like to be seen chasing the West out of Afghanistan – that will feed their narrative and ambitions.

The allied forces have no control anymore outside the airport. Taliban control already the outer ring outside the airport, which makes it harder for refugees to get through. Question for many who worked for the allied forces is how they would be able to get from their home to the airport when they have to pass so many checkpoints of the Taliban.

PM Boris Johnson joined G7 leaders at an online summit today (August 24) where he is expected to call on President Joe Biden to extend the deadline date for pulling US troops out of Afghanistan.

The Taliban told Sky News the 31 August deadline was a “red line” and there would be “consequences” if that date was extended. They will consider any soldier who is still there on the first of September as an occupier.

On whether Mr Biden will extend that deadline, Mr Wallace said:

“I think it’s unlikely, not only because of what the Taliban has said but also the public statement from President Biden.

We can only hope that the United States of America and NATO forces will not abandon those people who have helped them for so many years.

+

Preceding

Subcutaneous power for humanity 1 1940-1960 Influenced by horrors of the century

Serving those who served

2015 Health and Welfare

2016 review Human rights

June – July 2019

ISIS on the rise again as US troops are sent home

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Find also to read:

  1. Refugees At The Border- A Blessing Or Burden?
  2. Bringers of agony, Trained in Belgium and Syria
  3. A vision of a very different future for Kandahar culture
  4. Do world religions threaten the survival of the human race in the 21st century
  5. The Iranian American Frieda Afary looking with (republican?) American eyes at Iran
  6. Taliban conquest of Afghanistan a clock to turn back years
  7. Worse Than Saigon
  8. Afghanistan: international community statement
  9. Afghan filmmaker Sahraa Karimi
  10. Afghanistan — What It Tells You
  11. Moving heaven and earth to get every last American in Afghanistan back to American soil
  12. Expecting the E.U. to stand in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan
  13. The Fall of Kabul: The Return of the Taliban
  14. Afghan mums throw their babies over barbed wire fences and beg British soldiers to take them to safety

About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".
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5 Responses to A human drama set in Afghanistan

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