The Taliban capture of Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan has left the entire world in deep shock and panic. A few days before this unprecedented event, US officials had dismissed any concerns of such a move, a dismissal that was reassuring to most residents who were in the capital city.
However, it turned out that whatever intelligence the US had relied on was in all facets inaccurate. It has to be said folks, like it or lump it, the Taliban capture of Kabul will forever be one of the most iconic moves in modern military warfare. As this dark bitter truth begins to dawn on the entire world, the question that looms in everyone’s mind is how the new Taliban government will rule, but more importantly what lessons should Africa draw from this event.
To understand this complex issue, we must begin by unpacking a brief background into who the Taliban are and why they have become the epicenter of global attention following their smooth and dramatic capture of Kabul. The Taliban is a militarist group that constituted the government of Afghanistan in the 2000s before the September 11 attacks. An extremist Islamic militant group, the Al-Qaeda which was headed by Osama Bin Laden initiated terror attacks of September 2001 on American soil. Uncle Sam, fuming with anger declared war on the group and launched investigations in a bid to rout all elements of it from the world. Investigations would reveal later on, that the Taliban-controlled Afghan government was sheltering Bin Laden and his group.
Uncle Sam swiftly retaliated, this time against the Taliban government which was seen as accomplices to the crimes committed on US soil. The retaliation by the US forced the group to abdicate its throne in governance and disintegrate. A new government was formed in 2001 and Uncle Sam still worried about the commission of organized crime organized from abroad decided to stay in the country and ensure the protection of its soil from abroad. During its 20 year stay, the US assisted the Afghanistan government with technical military support, airstrikes on Taliban's and anti-government groups, intelligence and God knows what else.
During the former president, Donald Trump’s tenure, 5000 Taliban’s who had been captured were released by the USA after negotiations. The US acting as the world’s big brother saw it best to exclude the Afghan government in the deal. Part of and part of it was that US troops would leave the country by May 2021. Unfortunately, Trump lost the WHITE HOUSE, and his successor, Joe Biden took over with a reluctant approach to the process of evacuating troops and Afghan nationals who were subject to emigration to America. However, the honeymoon was cut short when the world unexpectedly woke up to the sudden news that the Taliban contrary to reports from Uncle Sam and his officials had captured the city. The Afghan president, a prophet in his own right had fled the country the day before. Big Uncle Sam slapped right in the face by the embarrassing images of Afghan and US nationals scrambling to climb the limited capacity of airplanes that were collecting people, has tried to sanitize the issue by blaming it on the Afghans unwillingness to fight a war for themselves. However, this is not an issue for discussion today.
However before we discuss the main issue at hand, it is also important that we understand why the world is very concerned about the Taliban. Remember we talked about the Taliban is being overthrown from power in the 2000s? Yes, a lot of it has to do with what they did whilst they were in power. Afghanistan had a civil war in the 90s. The spoils of the war left the Taliban faction remerging as one of the leading factions in the country. The Taliban ware in power from 1996 to 2001, only ceding such rights following the American-led invasion of Afghanistan. During its stay in power, the group faced global condemnation for its strict practice of Sharia law. Women’s rights were severely restricted, public executions were common and you can imagine.
This alone explains the unease in Afghanistan right now. Pictures and videos show multitudes flocking in a desperate attempt to flee the country in fear of subtraction of their human rights under a Taliban-led government. Western leaders are in sixes and sevens, shocked by the blitz at which the militant group retook Kabul. The fear of course lies in the harboring of terrorist activities by the Taliban government.
What is left for Uncle Sam? Lessons for Africa.
It rarely rains for Big Sam. From Cuba to Vietnam to Libya, Venezuela and now Afghanistan, America’s foreign policy continues to crumble under everyone’s watch. Such failures are a true testimony that the democratization of foreign governments is a myth. It is high time Uncle Sam and its allies woke up from their slumber and confront the hard truth on the ground. The time when America called every country that didn’t shape its politics around liberal democracy is almost over. It is a failed policy and the reason is quite simple. Every nation has a right to self-determination. Martin Jacques, author of when china rules the world once remarked that the USA and the UK did not develop under a democracy. Nothing is further from the truth about this revelation. The nation developed under slave trade and imperialism. It was the development of the economy that gave rise to the birth of liberal democracy. This phenomenon is not new. It is visible everywhere in the world where the formulae have been tried. As people start to have a better standard of living, a good education, they begin to enjoy better socio-political rights. A perfect example is Beijing in China. The inhabitants of the city of Beijing generally enjoy better rights as compared to the rest of China, at least according to Martin Jacques.
China’s development has grown exponentially despite the condemnation by the West over human rights abuses. The point that l make is that the path of self-determination is ugly in almost all facets. The right to choose the path of that self-determination should however be from the governed and not imposed from a foreign country. The recent events in Afghanistan affirm that no matter how much a foreign nation tries to impose a political system on another, it is almost destined to fail; sometimes with worse consequences than would have had the foreign power not intervened. Libya is an example where Obama’s shambolic foreign policy left the country torn to its heart. The 20 years Uncle Sam invested in trying to build a stable Afghanistan seem to have been a loss. The chaotic manner in which it is leaving Afghanistan is difficult to reconcile with the utopian image of a superpower it presents to the world.
The narcissistic tendencies of it cannot be sustained and should it not divert course, embarrassment will not stop coming right to its doorsteps. The same applies to Africa where we have seen sanctions rhetoric against nations like South Africa if they dare attempt to “undermine property rights” through the looming land reform program. The fact of the matter is that there is no one single defined way to development and whatever path which may not resemble liberal democracy does not cease to become legitimate. Now that the Afghan capture of Kabul has in a lot of ways undermined the US standing in international politics, the message should be very clear. Africans should resist by all means attempts to undermine its development agenda. The salient facts of the matter are that democracy is not a one-size-fits-all. In some instances, it works and in some, it doesn’t. Big Sam cannot continue deciding where it works and how.
Whilst it is conceded Big Sam does not need moral authority to police the world, it has dismally failed to defend democracy. The US has become a danger to democracy. The videos of the Capitol riots earlier this year show that Uncle Sam has bigger issues to deal with at home. The silence over Jamal Khashoggi’s murder says even more. Its moral authority continues to tumble every second that passes by. In conclusion, the attempts to democratize the world continue to hit the brick wall. Africa should refuse to be made a playing field for the west. The recent events in the Taliban show that years of trying to force an alien system to another nation produce failure.
Africa should therefore remain valiant.