In the case of the major NATO powers, the “definitive” account of the conflicts they have been involved in have almost all been written by themselves. Small wonder that defeats get obscured and the blame for setbacks almost invariably gets placed on others. Afghanistan in 2001 is an example. Although 86% of the “assistance” given to the Afghan authorities gets spent on the salary and logistics of “support staff” sourced from within the military alliance, while the bulk of decisions get taken by them, blame for the chaos and maladministration in Kabul is placed at the door of the Afghan government. During the 1990s, Bill Clinton sought to emasculate rather than arm the Northern Alliance, yet soon after the post 9/11 war started, opeds and books appeared in profusion, detailing imaginary “US assistance to the Northern Alliance to fight the Taliban”, which incidentally was a militia that was nurtured under the supervision of the Clinton administration. Subsequently, once the Northern Alliance had won the ground war (with decisive help from US and allied air power), its formations were constantly downgraded and replaced by cohorts composed of Pashtun irregulars recommended by the Pakistan army, who, not surprisingly, later turned out to be elements of the Taliban wearing a different label. In Kunduz and elsewhere, the US facilitated the escape of leadership elements of Al Qaeda, while in subsequent years, money and weapons were lavished on “moderate warlords”, most of whom reverted back to their Taliban avatar by 2006.
The Taliban was and remains a loathsome band of thugs, a fact which makes it all the more reprehensible that Washington, London, Berlin and Paris have, over the past decade, expended so much effort in seeking to integrate it within the Afghan government. Should Ashraf Ghani succumb to such demands, his country would lurch even deeper into hell. The only objective of the Taliban within the Government of Afghanistan would be to sabotage and subvert it, besides seeking to impose laws and lifestyles alien to those other than the perverted. It was expected that after 9/11, the folly of relying on GHQ Rawalpindi to battle terrorists would have been obvious to the White House. Clearly not for George W. Bush, who went back to the Pakistan army in his bungled battle against the Taliban, a battle that has been lost despite the expenditure of $700 billion on its prosecution, substantially because of Dick Cheney’s fetish that—unlike in Vietnam—even the toothpaste and soap used by the US military would be sourced from the US, never mind the added cost.
However, the Taliban is merely a regional threat, while ISIS is a global problem, which is why it is worrying that the current postures and moves of the US and its partners are designed to allow ISIS to escape and fight another day, just as the Taliban were systematically enabled to do during 2001-05. Few western analysts ask why the Turkish military faces almost no resistance from ISIS as it preens before Jarabulus and Dabiq, in contrast to the resistance of the terror group against the Iraqi army and its allies. The reason is that the Turkish army is rescuing rather than destroying ISIS cadres, by giving them an escape route through a change in label. At an appropriate time, the fighters preserved by Turkey will be let loose by the commanders of ISIS on targets that include the credulous allies of Ankara. It is clear why Erdogan wants his troops to march into Mosul. It is to protect the extremist fighters there so that someday, they could be set loose against the Shia, Christian and Kurdish militias that are his actual target. Under the guise of protecting Turkish democracy from another coup, Erdogan is ridding the military of its secular elements.
There was scarcely any protest when ISIS reigned almost unchallenged by the US and its surrogates in Aleppo and in Mosul. In the Syrian city, the organisation systematically killed Shia, Druze, Christians, Alawites and moderate Sunnis, and enslaved their women. There was nary a peep from the cacophonous crowd of “human rights warriors” who are now so alarmed that the surviving fathers, brothers and sons of these women may wreak vengeance on the monsters who killed and abused at will in Aleppo and in Mosul. The governments of Iraq, Syria and Russia are being badgered into ensuring safe passage for such depredators and their families, for these are about the only individuals that have been allowed by ISIS to flee from locations still controlled by that organisation, so that they can fight another day. In fact, the only reason why the US has suddenly become more active in Mosul and other locations after more than a year of relative inactivity is the worry that Baghdad was about to pivot to Moscow for military assistance because of disgust at the tardiness of Washington. The manner in which the Obama administration has allowed regional powers such as Turkey and Qatar to indirectly assist ISIS represents a policy misstep on the scale of those made by Bush-Cheney in Afghanistan.
John Kerry seems to have come to life only when ISIS came under attack in Aleppo and Mosul. In Dabiq, he has ignored the fact that ISIS elements apparently switched sides to morph into the Turkish-protected “moderate opposition”, which is why that country’s military got almost zero opposition from the terror organisation in its mock advances. Donald Trump is correct when he warns that the forces actually fighting the terror organisation need to work together, exactly as took place against Adolf Hitler during the 1939-45 war. If the hysteria being witnessed within NATO at the impending loss of ISIS-held Mosul and Aleppo to anti-Daesh fighters had been replicated in a NATO assault on that scourge in previous years, by now ISIS would have been a memory rather than a threat that may last a generation to finally eliminate because of errors made since 2012 by Kerry’s team.