Taliban-Us Peace Accord: a Defeat for America
Donald Trump became president of the United States on the slogan ' make America great' This slogan has not translated to reality outside the United States. It's a good slogan for home consumption but has little meaning to America's allies who have been left high and dry. A great nation does not go round signing peace accords with an organization that has been labeled as a terrorist entity for close to two decades.
Afghanistan was always a difficult difficult proposition because of its inhospitable climate and mountainous terrain. It has been a land difficult to subdue. The British tried it for close to 100 years and failed. The Russians came in next in 1978 but by a combination of factors, not the least of which was the American support for extremist Muslim organizations like the Taliban and other Wahhabi groups led to their defeat.
The Russian went away but were replaced by a hardline Islamic regime led by the Taliban. This regime believed in the spread of Islam by terror and accordingly give support to Al Qaeda. This organization hit the world trade towers and nearly 3000 Americans were killed. America woke up to the fact that it had created a Frankenstein monster and launched an attack on the Taliban regime of Afghanistan.
President George Bush ordered an attack on the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Taliban were ousted from Kabul but escaped into the mountains and many escaped to Pakistan where they were welcomed. This was part of the dual policy of the Pakistan government of running with the hares and hunting with the hounds.
The American army fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan had one hand tied behind his back as a part of the Taliban received succor and support from Pakistan. For some reason, the US presidents did not recognise this fact resulting in nearly 3000 Americans being killed in Afghanistan. At that time the United States and the United Nations declared the Taliban a terrorist organization and put a bounty on the heads of the Taliban leaders. Most of these leaders had been given refuge in Pakistan.
The failure to tackle the terrorist havens in Pakistan led to a resurgence of the Taliban which began to become increasingly belligerent. It occupied a fairly large part of the territory in Afghanistan. The United States also was losing its will to fight and the body bags were mounting. With no sign of a victory, President Donald Trump decided to have direct negotiations with the Taliban bypassing the de facto government of Afghanistan led by President Ghani. To facilitate this discussion they relied on Pakistan which has a direct link with the Taliban.
It is unheard in the annals of warfare and world history where a powerful nation like the United States entered into negotiations with a terrorist organization to secure peace. Many knowledgeable persons have commented that this peace is going to be elusive and President Trump has fallen into his trap. The US and Taliban have now signed a peace agreement at Doha in Qatar but a look at the agreement shows that it is a one-sided agreement. It means that America will withdraw its troops from Afghanistan to facilitate negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
Even a child knows that this agreement is not worth the paper on which it is written. Just after signing of the accord the Taliban have shown their face by attacking a football match in Kabul in which three people have been killed. President Trump will be on the horns of a dilemma as to what to do next.
The Taliban has already announced that it may not attack the US troops but it will continue its battle against government forces.
The Doha Accord
The peace deal has now been signed and it hinges on many imponderables. The biggest flaw in the deal is the Afghan government is not a party to it. One of the points in the agreement is that the Afghan government will release 5000 Taliban fighters in its custody. This has been flatly rejected by President Ghani and thus the first part of the agreement is not fulfilled.
The agreement also lays down a time table for the withdrawal of all US troops from Afganistan and during this process, the Taliban will observe a cease-fire and have negotiations with the Ghani government.
The ceasefire has already been broken as the Taliban have attacked government troops and carried out a terrorist attack on a football match in Kabul killing three Afghan civilians. The writing is on the wall that the US must go and the Taliban will establish its own rule.
Within two days of the signing of the peace accord, the Taliban has rejected the ceasefire against the Afghan army as well as carried out a terrorist attack on a football match in Kabul.
Many knowledgeable military analysts have opined that the Taliban which is a terrorist organization will not carry out its part of the deal and the agreement is not worth the paper on which it is written. Many commentators have also brought out the fact that the Taliban is an obscurantist organization that believes in a form of Islam which includes suppression of the rights of women and minorities. How the United States will reconcile the differences has not been explained.
One has a lurking feeling that all President Trump wants is to win the 2020 election. He is not concerned with the American prestige abroad or in Afghanistan. It also shows that the United States at critical moments of its history has thrown in the towel like it did in Vietnam.
Comparison with Vietnam
It's worth comparing the battle in Afghanistan with Vietnam. President Nixon who negotiated the peace deal with North Vietnam had a similar agreement with them. They were (North Vietnam) supposed to be negotiations between north and south Vietnam after the Americans withdrew.
Nothing of the sort happened and after the Americans withdrew North Vietnam attacked South Vietnam in full force and captured Saigon. We had a graphic picture of the last Americans escaping by helicopter from the roof of the American embassy. It was a sad spectacle.
Nixon at that time was embroiled in the Watergate scandal and he just allowed the South Vietnam government to collapse which they had promised to defend.
Another major difference is in the type of the enemy which the Americans were facing. In Vietnam, they faced a Communist force led by Ho Chi Minh. We must understand that Ho Chi Minh had been educated in Moscow and Paris. He was a man with a modern outlook who looked ahead. After the Americans left he took Vietnam forward to the 21st century. He did not believe in obscurantist ideas and suppression of women and minorities.
The Taliban on the other hand, unlike Ho Chi Minh, is an extremely narrow-minded extremist organization. Even in the agreement, it is specified that all the dealings will be as per the Islamic law. Islami law has many versions. We have a modern version in Turkey and a highly Wahhabi function under Taliban rule. The battle in Vietnam and Afghanistan may be militarily similar but the political repercussions are different.
The US President Donald Trump has signed an agreement solely with the 2020 election in mind. He wants to show to his supporters that he has kept his manifesto in mind and withdrawn American troops from abroad. The overall repercussions of this retreat from Afghanistan will affect American standing in the long run. Most allies can see the writing on the wall. The South Koreans will also worry that he could make a deal with Kim and escape. In between, there was the adventure in Iraq where the US is now persona non grata.
One is reminded of the fall of the great empire of Emperor Ashoka. The empire lost the will to fight and disintegrated within 50 years of his death. America has to see the writing on the wall and I am afraid until there is a reversal, this throwing in the towel will affect the US standing in the world polity of nations. It could also mean the end of the dream of global domination.