The most important lesson of the collapse of Afghanistan is a global loss of credibility by the United States under a Democrat administration. This impacts not only our allies but also onlookers and enemies, including in the Intermarium — between the Black, Baltic, and Adriatic seas.
The most immediate concern, however, is an anticipated wave of refugees from Afghanistan flooding into Europe. But the most strategic worry is the viability of the United States as the leader of the Free World. Can NATO defend itself? Can the U.S. be relied upon? What will Russia and China do?
A nightmare scenario would be for China to move against Taiwan promptly. At the moment, the Chinese probably expect as much resistance from the Biden administration as the Russians experienced from the Obama government when the Kremlin occupied a southeastern chunk of Ukraine in 2014.
It is also doubtful that Moscow will sit still when China rearranges the world. Ukraine should be worried in the first place; but Kazakhstan is not safe either, not to mention the Baltics.
Many of our allies are shocked about the swiftness of the collapse of Afghanistan. Some experts did warn a long time ago that without a sound American strategy the Taliban would be back in no time. What went wrong?
It was perhaps sound to overthrow the Taliban as punishment for sheltering Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda. We needed a replacement.
We should have restored the king, Mohammed Zahir Shah. He was immensely popular in his country. He knew how to deal with the tribes and warlords.
Alas, we balked at a royalist restoration because of our democratic prejudices. Democracy-building became our mission. Full of hubris, we were trying to mold Afghanistan in our image.
I am not talking about just fostering democratic elections, but also of sponsoring a woke revolution there. Afghan gender equality was our priority. As late as June of this year, the U.S. Embassy was busy celebrating LGBT and flying the “pride flag.”
But Afghanistan is not the U.S., obviously. Most prefer Sharia. The Taliban will officially guarantee it now.
Chaos reigns; hundreds of thousands want to get out; Western citizens remain stranded behind. Therefore, the U.S. and the U.K. are sending troops back. And so is Poland: 100 special forces. The Poles lost 40 KIA in Afghanistan for the sake of America’s war.
The U.S. has been talking to various governments to accommodate coming refugees. So far, Germany has pledged to accept 10,000 and England 5,000-plus families.
Luxemburg obfuscates. Switzerland excludes the possibility of allowing any Afghans in in bulk. An Austrian cabinet minister, Karl Nehammer, told Die Welt: “There is no reason for an Afghan to come to Austria now.”
Greece has proclaimed itself to be closed for business as far as Afghan refugees. So has Hungary. Anticipating unwelcome visitors, Turkey has commenced to build a ca. 300-mile-long wall along the border with Iran.
The Polish government considers admitting “some,” but that is hugely unpopular with the public. So far Warsaw has dispatched military planes back to Kabul to ferry back Polish citizens and to dispense humanitarian help on the ground.
Helping the Afghans in Afghanistan, and not helping them move out of Afghanistan, is the key point. Afghan refugee camps should be close by in Central Asia, and not anywhere else.
Meanwhile, Poland has to reckon with a mini crisis on its eastern border. About 50 refugees are sitting in no man’s land between Belarus and Poland. They were ushered in by the Belarusian border guards who now have barred them from getting back in. The Poles keep their border closed from the illegals as a matter of policy.
But one should expect more of that. In retaliation for supporting the Belarusian opposition, Aleksandr “Daddy” Lukashenka has funneled thousands of illegal migrants into Lithuania; but the dictator now explores the same tactic against Poland.
Planes fly into Minsk from Baghdad and elsewhere full of migrants eager to be expedited west. Out of spite for us, Lukashenka duly obliges. He will also accommodate the Afghans.
And, by comparison to the Chinese and Russian threats, that’s just small fries.
But it should worry us. Why? Because America’s weakness emboldens evil in the world. And we seem oblivious to it.
Afghanistan fell, but no heads rolled at the Pentagon, State Department, or the White House. Credibility is indispensable for America’s endurance.
Marek Jan Chodakiewicz is Professor of History at the Institute of World Politics, a graduate school of statecraft in Washington D.C.; expert on East-Central Europe's Three Seas region; author, among others, of "Intermarium: The Land Between The Baltic and Black Seas." Read Marek Jan Chodakiewicz's Reports — More Here.
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