As today’s unquestioned superpower, America’s writ runs large, larger than that of any empire in world history. America is globally predominant in military might, financial hegemony and “soft” or intellectual power. Yet this great power, the greatest in world history, is now admitting its failure to win in Afghanistan against a bunch of lightly armed uneducated mountain fighters. This is a colossal defeat which can only be compared to America’s defeat in Vietnam against a bunch of uneducated jungle fighters. What’s the reason?
1. Root Cause of America’s Failure in Afghanistan & Stratfor’s wisdom
The answer is the theme we have discussed for years:
- “We believe that lack of education breeds ignorance and ignorance breeds cultural racism. This may be the hidden factor behind media’s portrayal of the Afghanistan situation. The French used to look down on the Vietnamese as primitive and unintelligent. The French Generals were proud of being the country of Napoleon and they underestimated Ho Chi Minh. The results are well documented in history. Many American pandits think of the Taleban as primitive. They do not understand English, they live in caves and they seem primitive in their behavior.”
This cultural supremacism is the principal reason for America’s colossal failure in Afghanistan. What are the roots of this cultural supremacism?
- We have consistently argued that America’s framework for understanding Af-Pak has been a carry forward of the British colonial framework for Afghanistan. We have also pointed out that the entire American Establishment is overwhelmingly European in its education and orientation. This includes American Diplomats, American Military, American Pandits and American Media. Cultural Supremacism is a natural consequence of such intense one-sided education and experience.
- With their European blinders, the analysts and strategists of the American establishment invariably drew upon the lessons of the two European ventures in Afghanistan, the Soviet experience in 1979 and the British experience in the late 19th century. … Every American decision, we argued, has been derived from the British colonial mindset. Naturally, these decisions have been unsuccessful.
This week, we heard another voice, a deeply respected veteran voice, echo our theme. That voice is of Dr. George Friedman, the founder of Stratfor. In his article titled The Reality of Afghanistan, Dr. Friedman writes:
- “… this brings us to one of the most serious U.S. failures in Afghanistan: a cultural contempt for the Taliban. As it did in Vietnam, Washington failed to understand that the absence of U.S.-style bureaucracy and technology didn’t mean that the enemy could not identify opportunities or that it lacked the will to take advantage of them.”
Kudos to Dr. Friedman for this admission. But such admissions are absolutely critical to clear one’s vision. So how does Washington now see the Taleban? Dr. Friedman writes:
- “In many ways, the United States is more comfortable with the Taliban than with the other tribes in the country because secret negotiations have left Washington with a better understanding of the Taliban. But Washington’s main objective is to leave. It would like to do so gracefully, but graceful or not, it’s happening. However, I would argue that the United States believes the Taliban have sufficient coalition partners to wield the most influence in a post-U.S. Afghanistan.”
understands that the Taliban are the single-most powerful force in
Afghanistan but also that there are other factions that could block
them. However, the United States is not prepared to plunge into the
complexities of Afghan politics. Its failures leading up to this moment
have left it with no confidence in its ability to do so — and with no
interest in trying.”
So what is the reality in Afghanistan according to Dr. Friedman?
- “The United States is on its way out. In this negotiation, Karzai is a military cripple. The Taliban are weaker than they were but stronger and more coherent than anyone else in the country. And there are other factions. This is the reality in Afghanistan.”
What is likely to come next? Stratfor discussed that in their May 2nd article titled The Coming Afghan-Pakistan Cross-Border Conflict:
- “There is a consensus that the civil war within Afghanistan will
intensify. Not enough attention is being paid, however, to a complex
cross-border conflict that has the potential to destabilize not just
Afghanistan, but Pakistan as well.”