EU Is Afghanistan, US Is US, and Taliban Is a Bunch of Powers Seeking to Defeat EU
The world was watching in disbelief last month – and still is – as the US administration of Democrat President Joe Biden practically surrendered to the Taliban in Afghanistan, doing so voluntarily, eagerly and hastily for no rational reason whatsoever.
While both the entire West and its opponents, and the rest of the world were quite shocked, albeit for different reasons, the European Union and its member states might end up being the worst affected of all.
“Wait, of course there was a rational reason!” many would react: “To end America’s endless war in Afghanistan!”
Sure, technically that is supposed to be the rational reason behind Joe Biden’s extremely questionable move. The fact of the matter, however, is that the withdrawal was carried out in such a botched manner that it totally negated any benefits the United States might draw from its pullout over the next at least 20 years.
In other words, it would have been far cheaper in both momentary and credibility terms and it would have contributed much, much more to the safety and security of America and the entire West if the US had remained in Afghanistan just like in the past 20 years – vis-à-vis the extremely bewildering, nasty and utterly mismanaged military pullout the world just witnessed.
There are going to be a gazillion journalist and scholarly articles, books, speeches, and discussions about America’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, which, unfortunately might end up being even more “tectonic” than Joe Biden’s outraged critics – or the good people of the European Union – even dare to imagine.
That is why a tightly packed summary of the bewildering nature of the Afghanistan pullout and its ramifications is in order:
1) The Biden administration withdrew in a completely unnecessary haste, and its arguments that it had a deadline inherited from the Trump administration don’t hold at all: who was going to force or punish America over that deadline? The Taliban?? ;
2) The all-out, unconditional, inflexible and uncompromising US withdrawal directly caused the total collapse of the Afghan government, with President Ashraf Ghani’s flight being just a detail. Anybody with basic knowledge of Afghanistan must be aware of the country’s deficient national identity to hold it together – as opposed to the Taliban’s plain, simple and efficient Islamist and partly ethnically-based identity. Leaven behind even a tiny, token American force of a couple of thousand troops would have kept the Afghan government going because of the awareness of the US backing;
3) The unbelievable development in which Joe Biden and his Cabinet first extracted all but a few hundred troops, and then remembered that, “Hey, there are Americans and Europeans there, plus Afghan allies of the West who the Taliban might slaughter enthusiastically!” is just that – unbelievable. The scenes of total human desperation at the airport in Kabul, with people trying to cling to the wheel carriers of leaving airplanes, and the bloody ISIS terrorist attack that killed 13 US troops and hundreds of Afghans just showed how wrong a decision the total pullout was for the America, the West, the war on radical Islamist terrorism, and for those Afghans who worked to modernize and free their nation;
4) The fact that the Biden administration surrendered Afghanistan to the Taliban after America fought them for 20 years, and that these same Taliban harbored al-Qaeda, actively “aiding and abetting” it for the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks has wreaked havoc on America’s foreign and security credibility for decades to come – with foes and friends alike, thus hurting the security of the entire West, including all member states of NATO and the European Union;
5) The fact that all of this occurred right on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, DC, which claimed the lives of 2977 victims from more than 90 countries was an additional humiliation for the American power – and while many Europeans might be resentful of the American dominance, they might need reminding that the entire European security still rests most of all of America’s shoulders, even 30 years after the end of the Cold War – simply because the Europeans themselves haven’t done anything to shoulder it!;
6) The fact that the Taliban are fully backed in control of Afghanistan is just bound to lead to a resurgence of the top radical Islamist terrorist groups, al-Qaeda and ISIS (particularly its Afghan affiliate ISIS-K) – anybody who is doubtful of that might be too naïve or not really knowing who the West is dealing with here;
7) That’s not even mentioning that the puzzlingly mismanaged and botched US pullout left the Taliban fabulously armed with tens of billions of dollars’ worth of top-notch American-made military equipment;
8) The Biden administration’s sort-of “partnership” with the Taliban during the hasty and nasty evacuation has served to legitimize another very radical Islamist regime – imagine of the United States had legitimized ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, a few years back;
9) Additional gains in influence and power thanks to the US pullout from Afghanistan, including with direct deals with the Taliban, for powers such as China, Russia, and Iran – with which the European Union has complicated relations, to say the least, are just there to “spice things up” for an already very embattled and apathetic Europe;
10) Taliban’s shocking crackdown on women, ethnic minorities, sexual minorities, or anybody who opposes them – well, there’s really no need to comment on that – just that anybody who might have thought that wouldn’t happen is extremely naïve;
11) An outpour of refugees and asylum seekers – and this time certainly real ones, threatened with Taliban or ISIS-K slaughter, not like the constant and significant trickle of economic migrants flooding the European Union all the time – is likely and will make things tremendously hard for a Europe struggling with the duplicitous inefficiency of the liberal-leftist multiculturalism doctrine – which in turn is likely to feed further the growth of the far right;
12) Last but not least: the abrupt and botched Afghanistan pullout by US President Joe Biden was apparently carried out unilaterally, single-handedly, and with little, if any, meaningful discussion with America’s European and/or NATO allies, not to even mention any participation in decision-making by the Europeans, no matter tiny. Without the American power, muscle, and leadership, the possibility of a bundle of even the top European powers – France, the UK (which has brexited the EU) and Germany – deciding to keep up and sustaining the Afghanistan mission all on their own would have been a question for science fiction writers.
Considering the above 12 points about the bewildering playout and the highly threatening ramifications of the US pullout from Afghanistan under the Biden administration – and especially points 4), 5), 6), 9), 11) and 12) – it is really, truly, absolutely high time for the European Union to finally draw the right lesson about itself:
Namely, that it needs its own armed forces/military capabilities plus the leadership and resolve to wield them as a critically important tool of both outright defense policy and power projection capabilities in order to service its own foreign policy and international security agenda of guaranteeing international peace, stability, security, and humanitarian relief – while preserving the European Union’s and its member states’ own national security, prosperity and identity.
Of course, thus much was clear even the post-Cold War liberalist triumphalism of the 1990s, amid the bloody chauvinist debacle in the former Yugoslavia; this much was clear when Russia under its leader Vladimir Putin decided to encroach against Ukraine in Crimea and Donbass to punish it for trying to go west; this much was clear Syria and Libya collapsed and some true refugees plus millions of economic illegal immigrants thought they might as well just go and settle in affluent Western Europe; this much was clear even as Turkey under its leader Recep Erdogan started extorting concessions from the EU around this time; this much was clear when Donald Trump surprisingly became President of the United States of America and started rhetorically “not to honor” America’s commitment to European security that’s led to a tremendous amount of free-riding and buckpassing.
Now this much has become clear when Democrat Joe Biden just woke up one morning, and thought it might be great to just pull out of Afghanistan as botched as possible, reducing the most powerful military in the world to a loser in a war with a few tens of thousands of tribal religious fanatics – and to do that without even much of a word with America’s NATO and EU allies first. Even the UK, pretty much America’s closest ally, was kept out of the loop and left outraged by the arbitrary pullout whims of the Biden administration, with Biden reportedly not taking British leader Boris Johnson’s telephone calls for 36 hours! (Serves him right – he took the UK out of the EU, partly touting the “special relationship” as a replacement!)
Joking aside – remember that this is the same American President who three months back showed up in London (where he may or may not have gotten lost at a restaurant, but that’s another story) and Brussels and declared that “America is back!” At the time, this was taken to mean by the ideologically questionable European ruling establishments that the years of the erratic – and frankly evil, why not? – Trump have ended, and that Biden will go back to talking right and even doing right on America’s defense of Europe, with the Europeans going back to barely ever making much of a defense effort, even out of sheer self-respect.
(Was Trump going to send in the cavalry if, say, Mr. Putin decided to push with his hardened armored divisions via Belarus through the Suwalki Gap? Is Biden going to?)
Guess what: the Afghanistan pullout has practically, though paradoxically so, proven Biden and his aides to be even more erratic than Trump. Perhaps by “America is back”, Biden might have meant that he’s bringing all US troops home, an all-out isolationist provision, who knows? The same troops that guarantee security, survival, democracy, liberalism, and market economy from the Northern European Plain to the Taiwan Strait and the Korean Peninsula, and the security and freedom of shipping on the high seas.
That is, of course, a wild and joking exaggeration but even that’s not to be taken for granted considering what and how the Biden administration just did in Afghanistan – after the United States had spent there 20 years, thousands of lives, trillions of dollars, and gigantic pile of its credibility.
As mentioned above, the lesson about the EU needing to stand on its own two feed on security, defense, military and leadership has been hammered time and again by global developments into the heads of European leaders as well as publics – and they remain in denial.
So why would the Afghanistan withdrawal debacle be any different?! Unfortunately, it probably wouldn’t… The lack of European leadership and resolve, and the content with the dogmas of liberalist, consumerist paradigm shielded under the supposed American security umbrella is so great – that the EU’s High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy was just reduced to imploring the leaders of the EU member states to set up at least an EU force of 5,000 for rapid reactions and “rapid entry” (say, for the airport of a next Afghanistan). The EU, whose economy was recently bigger than the American one in absolute terms, can’t even field 5,000 troops on its own, imagine that. Of course, optimists would remark that you start small and grow – except there might be no time for that. Decades have been squandered already.
Why would it be different this time? Why would the lesson lead to some pro-activeness?
The only thing I have to offer as a potential argument that it might (and it certainly should) are the tragic, chilling scenes from the airport in Kabul. The Americans were leaving and everybody was utterly desperate and stupefied in fear of what was coming and frantic to get on those planes.
If you care about Europe, the European Union and nations, i.e. their survival and security, play a little game. Leave some blanks in the Afghanistan security equation and then insert some new actors. Simply because the Europeans’ security and defense relationship with America isn’t that much qualitatively different than the one the now vanished Afghan government had with the US – just the scale is different.
In that new theoretical equation Europe/the EU would be Afghanistan with its collapsed government and the desperate Afghans doomed to destruction, the United States would be the United States, and the Taliban would be a whole bunch of candidate to destroy, subjugate, conquer, or somehow dominate Europe (you can easily guess who such powers might be, there are a few of them, some bordering the EU; they would also include the Taliban just as a metaphor for jihadism).
Once you’ve done the “fill in the blanks”, check out the equation and think of the horrifying images from Kabul airport. Even if the equation remains figurative, that’s chilling enough, but even a literal playout cannot be ruled out.
Someday the Americans just decide to leave, maybe without even packing, as in Afghanistan. Maybe it’s the next Trump, or the next Biden, or maybe even the American republic imploded – what, with all their insane “culture wars”. What then? Worst case scenarios – tanks rolling west, radical terrorists blow things up, aggressive corporate takeovers terrorize Europeans… Best case scenario: the entire European Union, if it even survives such a cataclysm, would have to kowtow for good to one or more non-European bloody dictators, as a medieval-style tributary principality to a feudal lord.
It’s a long-known cliché in history and politics that being rich and militarily weak is about the worst situation in which your nation or nations or union can end up. The EU has been in that situation for decades, and nobody of the European leaders and even publics doesn’t seem to care. The lack of European leadership and resolve to stand for one’s own security, defense and freedom is so egregious it’s utterly unbelievable.
For 76 years now, or 103 years, if one goes back to 1918, without the American security guarantee and, equally importantly, the credibility to back it up, the European Union is a sitting duck for destruction, capture, terrorism, domination, plunder, extortion, you name it.
Simply because it doesn’t have a military worthy of the task of defending it. That goes even for member states with very powerful militaries such as France, whose military is the national military of regional great power despite its power projection capabilities – simply because the scale is different and the tasks at hand and much bigger and different – except there’s no capability and nobody to perform them.
The lesson has been clear for a while but this time hope lies with the chilling footage from Kabul airport as to what happens when the Americans get leaving for whatever reason.
The European Union must act now, very fast, in huge scale – on military, defense, security – plus leadership and resolve – before it ends up as a giant Afghanistan whose people would have nowhere to flee from the coming evil.
(Photo: Video grab from VOA)