by Zia Sarhadi (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 51, No. 7, Safar, 1444)
Leading to the first anniversary of America’s ignominious defeat in and hurried escape from Afghanistan, there has been much commentary about what went wrong and who is to blame in the US. Several narratives have been peddled. The Taliban have failed to create stability or establish an inclusive government, is one. Famine stalks the land because of Taliban’s incompetence, is another and that ever-present bogey of the Taliban’s refusal to allow girls to go to school.
Let us analyse these allegations. There is more peace and stability in Afghanistan today than there ever was during 20 years of US-NATO occupation. When the US and other western regimes talk about an ‘inclusive’ government, what they mean is that the Taliban should include American collaborators of the former regime in a power-sharing arrangement. Perhaps, Joe Biden could set an example by including some officials of the Donald Trump regime in his cabinet.
There is famine in the country because Afghanistan has suffered a prolonged drought. It has nothing to do with the Taliban’s competence or lack thereof. The situation has not been helped by the US and its western allies imposing sanctions on the Taliban as well as freezing billions of dollars in Afghanistan’s foreign assets. Afghanistan’s banks have been frozen out of the international banking system.
It is akin to tying the legs of a runner and then accusing it of not being able to run. Even the World Bank has admitted that Afghan businesses struggle to get materials because of lack of access to bank accounts or foreign currency. The same applies to teachers’ salaries and those of government employees.
Initially, neither teachers nor government workers were getting paid. The Taliban had no money. As habitual thieves, Biden stole the Afghans’ money under the spurious pretext that this will be used to compensate the families of 911 victims.
The victims’ families have repudiated this policy. Nearly 80 families wrote to Biden urging him to immediately release the funds to the Taliban. They said withholding such money was ‘morally wrong’, and urged the regime in the White House to not starve the Afghan people using their suffering as pretext.
The Afghan people’s plight is so desperate that they are selling whatever little furniture or silverware they have for cash. According to a report compiled by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), people are selling their kidneys. Some Afghan families are even forced to sell their daughters in order to have a few less mouths to feed and to provide a few morsels of food for the remaining children. Western do-gooders that are so anxious to get Afghan girls educated should perhaps stop starving them to death.
Afghanistan’s liquidity crisis is compounded by the fact that it has been effectively cut off from the global financial system. Further, there is not enough cash, whether in dollars or afghanis (the local currency). The reason is that unlike most other countries, Afghanistan doesn’t print its own money. So, even if people have money in the bank, they cannot access it. Commercial banks do not have cash.
Let us consider what western relief agencies and the UN have said about the situation in Afghanistan. More than 18 million Afghans are facing acute food insecurity, about half of the country’s entire population, according to World Food Program (WFP). In March 2022, the United Nations said almost 95 percent of Afghans aren’t getting enough to eat, what a UN official called “a figure so high that it is almost inconceivable.” Nearly 4 million children are acutely malnourished. According to the World Food Program, 92 percent of households reported having debt; 88 percent said buying food forced them to borrow.
In the midst of this US-imposed humanitarian catastrophe, the Washington warlords have resume drone strikes on Afghanistan. Their collaborators in the Pakistani military are facilitating such criminal activity.
Americans are fond of producing glossy reports extolling the virtues of their occupation. According to SIGAR, for 20 years, the US set aside nearly $150 billion for Afghanistan reconstruction. During the same period, the US spent an estimated $2.3 trillion on the war, according to Brown University’s Cost of War Project.
A day after the US-installed puppet Ashraf Ghani fled Kabul, reportedly with hundreds of millions of dollars in cash, and the Taliban entered the capital, Biden blamed the Afghan army for this failure. He said they refused to fight despite the US providing them training, weapons and cash.
What Biden and none of his predecessors will ever admit is that America’s war on Afghanistan was a racket. It spawned a culture of corruption in which the Afghan collaborators siphoned off a few billion dollars while the bulk of $2.3 trillion was sucked back into the US economy. The war merchants made a killing, literally and figuratively.
This was the real purpose of the war and it was a huge success!