Two simple truisms seem appropriate these days when discussing the Afghan war: “If you don’t understand your enemy, you will lose to him” and “If you do not kill your enemies, they will surely kill you.” U.S. political, military, and civil service leaders have neither tried to understand what motivates the Taliban and its allies nor have they tried to comprehensively kill them. As a result, they now stand at the inevitable destination — the brink of a vastly humiliating defeat that cannot be disguised.
Following are four points that are useful to keep in mind when listening to the nonsense about a “negotiated settlement” in Afghanistan that is now flowing from the mouths of Obama, Brennan, Clinton, Levin, Petraeus, and prime ministers Cameron (UK) and Harper (Canada).
- The United States and its NATO allies already have announced their defeat at the hands of the Afghan mujahideen. The U.S. and Britain will begin withdrawing troops next month at a time when the mujahideen have the battlefield initiative; have thoroughly infiltrated Karzai’s government and military and security forces; and have ample funds, arms, and volunteers provided by their benefactors on the Arabian Peninsula.
- The Taliban have heard the U.S.-NATO coalition announce its surrender and have no reason to think there is any Western will left to fight, especially after hearing Obama whine out this week his and the West’s fatal lack of bloody-mindedness in yet another weepy apology for civilian Afghan casualties. This war is absolutely a zero-sum game for the Taliban, the other mujahideen, and Pakistan — a mindset that the West believes no longer exists — and U.S.-NATO claims about likely compromise from the mujahideen’s side is no more than idle chatter meant to give Western populations hope where there is none.
- Given NATO’s near-term withdrawal, the absence of Western willpower, and the combat ineffectiveness of Karzai’s forces the Taliban and its allies will continue their thousand-cut campaign, and let Obama and his NATO colleagues talk amongst themselves and to their media acolytes about the equitable negotiated peace that is approaching. In addition, Pakistan’s army and intelligence services — sick of its effete Western allies’ obsessive insistence that its Pakistan’s duty bleed and win the war for them — will increase aid to the Taliban and its allies to ensure that Karzai’s regime and India’s presence in Afghanistan are in time erased after NATO retreats. Pakistan will be supported in this endeavor by Arab Peninsula regimes eager to see an Islamist government restored in Kabul that will block the extension if Shiism through Afghanistan into Central Asia.
- When the U.S.-NATO coalition withdraws or is driven out by the mujahideen, the Taliban, and its allies: (a) will reestablish an Islamist government that will rule over most of the country with the same religion-based, brutal, but effective law-and-order regime that held sway on 10 September 2001, and this will be welcomed by most Afghans; (b) will wage a war of revenge against the Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Shias who were ahistorical enough to think the U.S. and its allies know how to win wars and stupid enough to support a vicious Western cultural war aimed at destroying Afghanistan’s conservative Islamic and tribal culture; and (c) will welcome al-Qaeda and other non-Afghan Islamist insurgent groups to resettle in Afghanistan, knowing full well that the West will not be back to fight, except with its usual feckless combination of threatening rhetoric and the long-failed of policy of trying to achieve victory by killing or capturing its Islamist enemies one at a time.
One final point is worth making about the coming U.S.-NATO defeat in Afghanistan, this one in regard to the Muslim world as a whole — which now includes North America and Europe — and especially its young men. When the Red Army withdrew from Afghanistan in February 1989, it had a galvanizing impact on Osama bin Laden’s generation of young men. For the first time in several centuries, Allah had allowed Muslims to defeat a Western power, and one of the world’s two superpowers at that. Much of the inspiration that has put mujahideen on the battlefield against the West and Israel since 1989 flowed from the defeat of the Red Army, and the Muslim world’s consequent belief that the mujahideen had destroyed the Soviet Empire.
Even with this victory and even after the victory of 9/11, however, bin Laden, his lieutenants, and their allies found that they continued to encounter a deeply engrained defeatism among Muslims. The rhetoric of bin Laden, al-Zawahiri, and other Islamist leaders contains a clear and consistent theme that such defeatism must be overcome in each Muslim before Allah will reward His faithful with victory over their remaining enemies. In other words, the Islamists’ message to their fellow Muslims is that Allah will not help those who do not get off their behinds and help themselves. The continuity of this theme in the post-bin Laden period is apparent in al-Qaeda’s 3 June 2001, 100-minute motivational video entitled “You are responsible only for thyself.”
It will be difficult, to be sure, to measure the worldwide galvanizing impact of the mujahideens’ Taliban-led defeat of the U.S.-NATO coalition in Afghanistan and the subsequent reestablishment of an Islamic Emirate there. But could that impact possibly be less than that which followed the Soviets’ defeat? In 1989, after all, there was no Internet and 24-hour Arabic television coverage of the Red Army’s humiliation; today such coverage is intense and ubiquitous. In addition, the mujahideen will have beaten the second superpower and its most militarily potent allies not only in Afghanistan but in Iraq as well — something no other power on earth ever has accomplished. Most important, this accomplishment will be seen across the Islamic world as both the result of Allah’s will and His reward for those Muslims who got off their behinds to fight and defeat His and Islam’s infidel enemies.
Overall, the decision by Western political leaders to allow their armies to be so easily and cheaply beaten in Afghanistan will have for them and their peoples very unfortunate and bloody long-term consequences.