The move to remove US troops from Afghanistan is perhaps only a tactical retreat.

By BA and Venkatesh Sundaram

The newly elected President of the US, Mr. Joseph Biden, announced the withdrawal of the last posse of 3,500 servicemen and women of the US armed forces by September 11, 2021, which is the twentieth anniversary of the infamous World Trade Centre and Pentagon attacks.  The events of that day set in motion what has amounted to be the longest American war, and the new President says that he wants to put an end to it.  He has also promised continued support to the Afghan people as well as to the present-day government.  Meanwhile, an important member of the US led coalition, Australia has also announced that it would pull out all its troops.   NATO has also announced that 7000 non-US soldiers would also be withdrawn as soon as possible, without committing itself to a firm date.

The closest ally of the US, namely UK has expressed `disappointment’ because according to them this move will endanger `peace’ and `stability’.   There is a prediction that the much reviled Taliban which has been at war with the US led coalition would come back to power and wipe out the `gains’ made since the US led occupation.   The Indian Ministry of External Affairs says that Afghanistan’s future should not be a return to the past, by which it seems to mean that the Taliban should not return to power.  Thus, the mood seems not be euphoric at the turn of affairs but more sober.

It should be kept in mind that the government in Kabul is kept in power also by all kinds of other security personnel and intelligence operatives, who participate in and train Afghan personnel.  The country has entered its fifth decade of continuous warfare since the Soviet invasion in 1979, which

ended a little over a decade later.  Afterwards the Taliban, which had been funded and trained by American intelligence as well as with support from Pakistan came to power and were later considered and described as rogues and pushed out of power by the US led invasion that came after the 2001 9/11 attacks.  Before those attacks, long discussions between Taliban and US energy interests, oil and gas companies led to an impasse and it was clear that Taliban would not assist them.  Thus, one of the important objectives was to put in place a government in Kabul that would be of indubitable strategic value to the US and its allies in their quest to encircle Russia and China and to control vital routes for oil and natural gas transportation.

Two decades after that invasion, it is not clear if anything at all has been achieved, except for the complete destruction of one of the oldest countries that has come down through history.   Millions of dead, as many displaced, generations destroyed, and a country reduced to rubble, there is no word of acknowledgement from the US of its true aims nor a word of apology for having visited death and destruction.  It may be recalled that the current President was himself the Vice-President of a two-term President who promised peace and did not deliver, but rather was one whose every single day in office was one engaged in war in one or another corner of the world, and in the region.

The Anglo-American imperialists have in fact been responsible not only for the complete destruction of Afghanistan and later Iraq, and the death and maiming of several hundreds of thousands of people in those countries. The heinous war crimes they have committed against the peoples cannot be forgotten ever.

Despite the withdrawal of `American boots on the ground’ even today there is no promise that aerial war and drone warfare will not continue, nor subterfuge or skulduggery.  It is likely that the resources liberated by the withdrawal will be redeployed elsewhere as the US aggressively pursues an Asia Pivot policy and as it enters a strategy based on Quad, with Indian, Japan and Australia as partners to box in China as tensions are expected to rise in the South China Sea and over Taiwan.

Considering all the above, a disinterested observer would be forced to conclude that the move to remove US troops from Afghanistan is perhaps only a tactical retreat, as it reserves the option of returning any day and in the fact that there is no real change in the imperialist content of the terms of engagement of the US with sovereign countries. In the coming months, the people of Afghanistan and South Asia would be watching with great concern as to what the future holds for the country. The freedom-loving peoples of the world need to learn important lessons from the entire saga of Afghanistan over the last twenty years and more, especially about Anglo-American imperialism and ways to prevent them from unleashing mayhem and destruction.

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