Barack Obama wanted it, Donald Trump wanted it, and Joe Biden is doing it now: withdraw from Afghanistan. If the Americans leave, it will be clear: the Germans and the British, who have about 7,000 soldiers from more than a dozen other countries in NATO, will follow.
“Together, overseas together,” has always been the slogan. Without the Americans, who are the backbone of the Afghanistan mission, the others cannot survive – for logistical and security reasons.
With the withdrawal, it is clear for the first time that Afghanistan is no longer a strategic priority for the West or the United States. Especially since major terrorist attacks on Western targets such as the events of 9/11 can be easily managed and prepared in Syria, Yemen, the coast, London, Paris or, significantly, New York.
The democratization process has failed miserably
On the other hand, it cannot be said about “getting the job done”. The primary objective of driving al-Qaeda out of the country and expelling the extremist Islamic Taliban movement from power has been achieved.
The drive to make Afghanistan a free, democratic, stable, secure, and prosperous country by building the country on the edge of the abyss has failed. Incidentally, Joe Biden has always been skeptical about this overarching goal.
Certainly: there are selective successes. Millions of women can now vote in Afghanistan. Millions of girls go to school. There are more economic prospects, especially in cities. But even these developments are not set in stone.
The watch can also be turned back. In the Hindu Kush, the Taliban are now threatened with a return to power. And through free elections.
Trillion cost – hardly equal to that
So it’s not a glorious exit for the United States and NATO. The voltage is not proportional to the input. In Afghanistan alone, the commitment has cost Americans more than 2,400 deaths and $ 2.3 trillion. No wonder people in the United States and many NATO countries no longer see the goal and demand an end.
So now the West withdraws. Unconditionally. So far, two basic conditions have always been mentioned: The Afghan security forces themselves must be able to ensure security and stability before they leave. The Taliban will have to conclude a peace and cooperation agreement with the democratically legitimate Afghan government. Both conditions are now dropped. Without fanfare.
Thus, the end of the Afghanistan mission is a belated, belated admission: it has not succeeded so far. And you don’t believe in success in the future either. Even if the Western forces stayed for two, three, four years, or more. So it is an admission of failure. Although, of course, clouds are sold differently.
Diplomatic reporter, SRF
The diplomatic reporter is deputy chief editor of SRF Radio. Prior to working in radio, he was an international editor for “St. Galler Tagblatt, Middle East editor and “Zeit” correspondent in Paris as well as editor in chief of “Weltwoche”.