In Brief: Afghanistan Is Much Worse Than You Realize
The U.S. military is downplaying Taliban gains, and the U.S. is pretending there is a viable peace process.
Twenty years after the first U.S. troops landed there, Afghanistan may be pretty far down the list of priorities for most Americans, but that doesn’t mean it’s unimportant. National security analyst Thomas Joscelyn explains reality on the ground:
Just two weeks after President Biden announced on April 14 his decision to withdraw all American forces from Afghanistan by September 11, the Taliban launched a massive offensive. Since May 1, the jihadists have captured a large swath of the country, laying the groundwork for the resurrection of their Islamic emirate. America and its allies have remained mostly indifferent — retreating from the battlefield as the jihadists advance.
This is what a lost war looks like.
Joscelyn lists four takeaways:
The U.S. military is downplaying the Taliban’s gains.
While testifying before the House Armed Services Committee this week, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley tried to downplay the Taliban’s gains. “There’s 81 district centers that are currently, we think, are underneath Taliban control. That’s out of 419 district centers,” Milley claimed. “There’s no provincial capital that is underneath Taliban control, and there’s 34 of those.”
Milley is the same guy arguing that CRT is actually a great tool for the military, for one thing. And Joscelyn gives a lengthy and detailed explanation for why Milley’s numbers are suspect — and that the truth of Taliban gains is far worse.
Much of the offensive is taking place in the north, far from the Taliban’s traditional strongholds, but in locations where al-Qaeda-affiliated groups are known to operate.
Obviously, it’s not in U.S. interests to see al-Qaida flourish, but that seems to be what’s happening.
The Taliban’s deputy emir, Sirajuddin Haqqani, has issued orders regarding captured spoils and governance under the Islamic emirate.
The Taliban is preparing its men to rule.
Joscelyn warns of the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” that seems to be emerging, and is “yet another indication of the American failure.”
U.S. and U.N. officials are still pretending there is a “peace process” and there is a possibility that the Taliban may be willing to agree to a political settlement with Kabul.
The Taliban isn’t interested in peace. At all. The Taliban and its al-Qaeda allies went on the offensive immediately after the U.S. signed a withdrawal agreement with the group on Feb. 29, 2020. The jihadists have launched multiple offensives since then, including the most recent one. Yet, U.S. and U.N. officials continue to pretend that there is some sort of “peace process.” This is delusional.
But the political winds have blown far away from any interest in Afghanistan. Thus, Joscelyn concludes, “Like his predecessor, Biden decries America’s ‘endless wars’ and is largely unconcerned by the terrorists’ endless jihad.”
- Thomas Joscelyn
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