Now that the US has pulled out of Afghanistan, one already sees a drastic decline in media coverage of that country. The PBS investigative program Frontline has just released an excellent documentary Taliban Takeover on the twenty-year old war that the US waged in Afghanistan.
What makes this program particularly notable is that the journalist Najibullah Quraishi is himself an Aghan who was born and raised in that country and has covered the war all this time, providing him with a breadth of knowledge of the country’s languages, history, and peoples that enables him to provide an in-depth perspective that is lacking in most western sources. He has contacts with key members of the Taliban, al Qaeda , and ISIS and was embedded with these groups at various times and thus has access to them and was able to interview them. He also interviewed many courageous women who are wondering what the future is for them.
His reporting shows that the departure of the US and installing of the Taliban in power has brought some stability to the country but at the cost of freedoms as the government seeks to rule according to Islamic law and that now there are power struggles within factions of the Taliban and with al Qaeda and ISIS.
For those seeking to better understand what is going on there and why the US mission was pretty much doomed from the start, I can highly recommend this 53-minute program.
I’m sure this documentary is well done and goes into great detail about what was done and the proximate motivations. And I’m sure historians will be able to build entire careers and fill libraries with book analysing the what and why. But it won’t enable us to understand any better why the war was a fiasco, because we already know, and we knew it back in 2001.
It’s a little like seeing someone whose head was chopped off and investigating the minutest medical details about which bodily systems failed when and how. Of interest to someone doing trauma research, maybe, but it doesn’t tell you any more about why the person died. The head was cut off, and once you know that, you know what the outcome had to be.
It was obvious from the moment the US government announced its intention to invade that US would get pretty much nowhere, except to kill a lot of people and blow up a lot of stuff, and that the moment the US gave up and left, the Taliban would quickly regain whatever territory the US had driven them out of. And there were plenty of people from the very beginning who warned that exactly that would happen.
The only reason we stayed in Afghanistan for 20 years was because the Military Industrial Murder Complex made a massive amount of money keeping our forces in a place where victory, in any form, was obviously hopeless for a very long time. My nonprofessional opinion (no military background, but a big history buff) is that Bush et al blew it very early. They had no interest in helping the people of Afghanistan. They invaded and occupied it originally for its PR value, then switched to attacking Iraq, which had no involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks. They came into office wanting to take over Iraq (the Plan for the New American Century dates from the 1990s). Had they honestly wanted to go after the people responsible, they would have invaded Saudi Arabia, as most of the murderers, as well as the leaders, such as Osama bin Laden, and funders (almost certainly some in the Saudi royal family) were from Saudi Arabia. And it’s the royal family that has been pushing a particularly-extremist and nasty form of Islam for many decades.
Who Cares says
It wasn’t just shovelling money to the well connected. Ego played a role as well, in a nutshell “We are the US, we cannot lose!”. That same attitude also put a brake on any plans to leave since the chest thumper brigade would be mobilized to destroy the administration that ordered it (“US not WEAK, US not LEAVE!”).
I note that the YT video is age-locked. Rather than using an account and giving an age (I’ve been trying to avoid giving personal data to YT/Google), I wondered if the PBS website had the same video without the lock.
It sure looks like it’s the same: