Afghanistan Failure: This Time We Must Learn

Early on, after the intervention to disable the Al Qaeda terrorist base, I pointed out that no country had ever successfully occupied, governed or conquered this spectacular region known in Empire days as the North West Frontier. Even the Russians had left. So if we went in it would end in failure. The Taliban, formerly known as the Mujahidin when in Soviet days we regarded them as allies and friends, would bide their time. But in the end they would take over again.

This is happening now. No military intervention to stop them will work. Some Special Forces cover for our diplomatic and aid assets may be needed, but we will have to accept that in spite of the massive resources poured in to enable the elected government to function and its forces to prevail, sooner or later it will fall. It is too corrupt and incompetent to survive and its western values are inherently abhorrent to Afghan national culture.

It is however possible to influence  positively  the future direction a Taliban dominated country takes. It will not be done militarily. Nor will the expectation be realised that democracy will triumph as a structure because it is best. It is best for the West for sure and we slaughtered millions of our own on the journey to reach it. But it is not best for everywhere. There are other ways of governing, even if we do not like them.

Where we can influence is with money. The Afghan economy depends almost entirely on aid or the growing of opium to fund illegal drugs across the world. Putting money into local industrial development of a mixture of modern technologies and traditional crafts would transform much of what is wrong there now. But there is one condition. The Taliban would have to be on board with the project. That may not be as difficult as it looks.

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