There have been reports doing the rounds that the US armed forces, after their pullout, have bequeathed to the Taliban more Blackhawk helicopters than 166 other nations around the globe. In addition, basically Joe Biden has gifted $20 billion worth of most dangerous military hardware to the very forces to whom the US lost its longest war in history.
There is an overwhelming public opinion, both within the United States, as also throughout the world, against the Biden administration, with veterans openly questioning why so many soldiers lost their lives, if the end result was to return Afghanistan to the Taliban.
The joke circulating is that Taliban leased Afghanistan to the United States for nearly 20 years. They developed the infrastructure and rebuilt cities; India constructed, on war-footing, roads and dams there. And now Taliban taking back an improved Afghanistan with no loans on constructions. Smart strategy?
However, on a more serious note, in politics, particularly international affairs, the truth is not always how it appears. The stated agenda and the real objectives may be at total variance with each other. The United States had invaded Iraq announcing to the world that Saddam Hussein had in his possession, weapons of mass destruction.
This turned out to be an out-and-out lie, and the international community realized that the powerful oil lobby, that enjoyed the patronage of the Bush administration, wanted to take control of the natural resources in that country. It mattered little, that in the process, Iraq was absolutely destroyed, and till this day, has not been able to recover from the consequences of the American assault.
It is well-known that America has always indulged in stirring up public opinion against imaginary enemies so as to keep its domestic politics intact. In the late 1940s and early 50s, McCarthyism was the main theme as anti-communist sentiments were whipped up across the nation due to which many top artistes, including Charlie Chaplin, had to flee from America. In the early 1960s, it was initially Fidel Castro and Cuba, followed by Vietnam.
The saga continued, and it went on to first target Iraq and then Saddam Hussein, who was once considered a friend of Washington. In the aftermath of 9/11, it was Osama Bin Laden, in whose pursuit, the US invaded Afghanistan, perhaps a huge blunder, given that Afghanistan has always been considered the graveyard of empires. The British and the Russians had failed to conquer this area, where warlords with the code in equal measure, of both hospitality and revenge, have dominated the affairs. The Afghans have never lost to any superpower, except perhaps to the army of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, because of which Peshawar is a part of Pakistan now and not of Afghanistan.
In relation to the present context, the US pullout has occurred. However, if the Americans have left behind such a plethora of military hardware and 11 air bases, in the process making Taliban also an air power in the region, it is certainly not without a reason. The US has over 60 intelligence agencies and the mightiest Armed Forces in the world. Those who run the country are not naïve but formulate their policies after thinking through various possible ramifications. It is an established fact that the Taliban was founded several decades ago to counter the Soviet influence in the region, and it was to some extent like the creation of a Frankenstein.
Therefore, if one looks at West Asia from a strategic prism, America might have a plan up their sleeve. The very fact that despite getting multiple opportunities in the past 20 years, little was done to disarm the militia groups, now operating under Taliban. It is obvious that there was a definite blueprint.
Washington has been rather wary of Iran, China and some lesser-known countries, once an integral part of the Soviet Union. The Taliban fighters, with so many sophisticated weapons at their disposal, could readily be used to create problems for these countries. The blame would be laid on the Terrorist organization but Washington’s strategic objectives may also get accomplished. As yet, the Taliban does not have a unified command, and any attack on another country could be depicted internationally as an aberration by a rogue group. If this is what is the game-plan, it has many perilous repercussions for the peace of the region.
China and Russia, like Pakistan, may appear to be backing the Taliban, but it is America which may ultimately call the shots, depending on whether there has been some underhand deal or agreement with certain Taliban leaders. There are ramifications for India as well. Pakistan has always accused New Delhi of building infrastructure in Afghanistan since it supposedly facilitated in meddling in the affairs of Balochistan.
Islamabad can always use this international terrorist organization—having links with the Islamic State and Al Qaeda—against India in Kashmir. Therefore, the Indian armed forces have to be fully prepared for this eventuality.
The US withdrawal from Afghanistan has demonstrated the ease with which the Taliban have wrested control of the country. It was a tailor-made situation, which would have not enfolded so, if America did not want it. In plain speak, there are indications of complicity. The international community is aghast how brutalized and dehumanized the people of that country are.
Benjamin Franklin had aptly stated, “Whatever is begun in anger, ends in shame”. The American invasion and now withdrawal are indeed dishonourable. Between us.