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Sarosh Bana


 The rushed and chaotic withdrawal of US-led NATO forces from Afghanistan has put an end to the 20 year long occupation and war of the country, leaving very few positive results and a host of unresolved and worsening problems for the wider region. The Taliban have won back the power that the western invaders had taken from them in 2001. After claiming to fight for their elimination and the eradication of their ‘terrorist’ ideology, the American leadership ended up making a deal with them without involving the government that had been installed in Kabul by Washington and its allies. The Biden administration also essentially ignored the concerns of India in the matter. The excuses invoked and assurances proffered by President Biden do not amount to an explanation or an account for the disastrously failed American policies. A Congressional investigation and a UN conference into the conduct and management of this military/political operation is called for.



 The American hand in fanning the flames of terror and insecurity across the world is now more evident than ever, as the Taliban extremists legally capture Afghanistan through government formation after flaunting arms and ammunition carelessly left behind by the retreating US and Afghan troops. As events in war-weakened Afghanistan turn a full circle with the Taliban, whose government fell to the US military advances in 2001, returning stronger to regain power, the culpability of the four successive US administrations that waged this infructuous 20 year war will unquestionably need to be investigated and exposed.

 Questions are also bound to arise on the abject political and military capitulation, after Washington, by official estimates, expended a staggering US$ 982 billion on the war effort. However, the Costs of War Project at Brown University assesses a phenomenal expenditure of US$ 2.26 trillion, nearly US$ 1 trillion of that towards the Department of Defense’s Overseas Contingency Operations budget, and a further US $530 billion being the interest on the money borrowed by the US government to fund the war.

 This embattled land-locked country of 38 million has among the lowest GDP in the world, of US$ 21 that is on par with Papua New Guinea’s, and per capita GDP of US$ 509 that is a degree higher than Madagascar’s. Last year, then the President,  Ashraf Ghani said 90 percent of the population lived on less than US$ 2 a day.

 By any accounts, the US’s enormous investments there – whether official or Brown University estimates – should have pulled the numerically manageable population out of poverty, uplifted the ravaged economy, vastly improved all indices of human development, and created a sound political, financial, administrative and military framework. Resultant prosperity would have rendered internal terrorism more irrelevant, structured the resistance against the Taliban and their associates, and also halted their regrouping.

 The splurge should additionally have accomplished all that the US had set out to achieve, in a far shorter time than the two decades it took. After all, the Taliban and their allies were armed with little more than Kalashnikovs, shoulder-fired rockets, improvised explosive devices and car bombs.

 So where did those investments go? As rifle-waving insurgents are now the government in an Afghanistan left shattered by the degrading US retreat, they seem poised to mutilate the legacy of America’s longest, and murkiest, war. In his address to the nation from the White House on August, 31, as regards the US’s disorderly withdrawal from Afghanistan, President Joe Biden asserted, “I give you my word: With all of my heart, I believe this is the right decision, a wise decision, and the best decision for America.”