What did the 20-year war leave for Afghanistan?


What did the 20-year war leave for Afghanistan?

  【 honk 】

  In 2021, it is the 20th anniversary of the "9.11" incident that shocked the world, and it is also the 20th anniversary of the Afghan war launched by the United States. As the longest war in American history, it made the United States pay a heavy material price and casualties, and finally forced the United States to start withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. On April 14, 2021, the Biden administration of the United States announced that it would withdraw all US troops stationed in Afghanistan by September 11. However, 20 years later, what has this war left for Afghanistan?

  Turbulent, divided and impoverished Afghanistan

  After the "9.11" incident, the United States quickly launched the war in Afghanistan, overthrew the Taliban regime and drove away Al Qaeda. In the following 20 years, the United States continued the war on terrorism in Afghanistan, promoted post-war reconstruction and carried out so-called democratic transformation. As a result, Afghanistan has established a so-called Western-style democratic republic, achieved low-speed economic growth, and established a national security force.

  However, 20 years later, Afghanistan is still a conflict and turbulent country. A strategic goal of the United States in launching the war in Afghanistan is to make Afghanistan no longer a breeding ground for terrorism, but this goal has not been achieved. Because although the Taliban has been overthrown as a regime, it has been reorganized since 2003. So far, it has developed into an anti-American and anti-government political and military organization with more than 80,000 members. In addition to the Taliban, various extremist organizations such as Al Qaeda and the Khorasan branch of the Islamic State are also very active in Afghanistan. According to the annual Global global peace index released in June 2019, Afghanistan has replaced Syria as the most insecure country in the world. In the past 20 years, the conflict has brought a serious humanitarian disaster to Afghanistan. As of 2019, more than 40,000 civilians have died in Afghanistan, more than 60,000 people have been injured, and about 11 million people have become refugees.

  Afghanistan remains a de facto divided country. The United States and the Afghan government it supports cannot effectively govern the whole country, and mainly control the central and western regions and the northern regions, as well as large and medium-sized cities and transportation trunk lines throughout the country. The Afghan government is also inseparable from the military protection of the United States and its western allies. In addition, it also faces difficulties such as low governance efficiency and rampant corruption. On the other hand, the Taliban has controlled many areas such as southeastern and southern Afghanistan, and implemented effective management in a solid jurisdiction. For example, the implementation of Islamic law, providing protection to local people and helping to resolve civil or commercial disputes, actually forms a political separation trend with the Afghan government.

  Afghanistan is also one of the least developed countries in the world. The industrial and agricultural foundation is weak, food is not self-sufficient, the economy is heavily dependent on foreign aid, finance is not self-reliant, and people’s lives are hard. 2019— In fiscal year 2020, Afghanistan’s GDP was about 18.89 billion US dollars, and its per capita GDP was only 586.6 US dollars. Although Afghanistan’s fiscal revenue has increased year by year, it has been unable to make ends meet for many years, and 60% of its budget comes from international aid. The unemployment rate has been rising for many years, reaching 40% in 2019. Some laborers can only earn about $60 a month, making it difficult to support their families.

  American factors that can not be ignored

  The war on terrorism and the failure of reconstruction in Afghanistan are the result of various factors. However, as a promoter and leader, the American factor cannot be ignored. The reason is:

  First, after the end of the Cold War, the United States became the only superpower in the world, and hegemonism and militarism expanded, which led to the "anti-terrorism" front being stretched too long. The war in Afghanistan is the first war fought by the United States since the 21st century. In just over two months, it overthrew the Taliban regime and drove away Al Qaeda. In 2003, the aspiring United States launched the second war, the Iraq war, which quickly overthrew Saddam Hussein’s regime and then began the so-called democratic transformation in Iraq. If the United States attacked Afghanistan, it won the sympathy of the international community, but its attack on Iraq was completely unilateral and did not get the authorization of the United Nations. At the same time, the United States carried out the "anti-terrorism" war and the so-called democratic transformation in two countries, which led to the long front and the shift of strategic center, greatly underestimating the determination and strength of the Taliban to make a comeback. It was after the Iraq war in 2003 that the Taliban began to recruit and organize a large number of new forces and rebuild their intelligence and action networks, thus achieving strategic reorganization.

  Second, in the past 20 years, American troops stationed in Afghanistan have frequently killed and killed innocent civilians, ignored local religious and cultural customs, and the incidents of humiliating corpses and abusing prisoners have been constantly exposed, which has aroused the anti-American sentiment of the Afghan people and prompted more people to join the anti-American anti-government team. For example, from January to April 2012, incidents in which American soldiers insulted the bodies of anti-American militants in Afghanistan were exposed one after another. In February, soldiers stationed in the US military base in Afghanistan burned a large number of religious books including the Koran. In March, an American soldier shot and killed 16 innocent Afghan civilians. This series of incidents has triggered large-scale anti-American protests in Afghanistan and neighboring countries, and the Taliban also took the opportunity to strengthen retaliatory attacks on US troops stationed in Afghanistan. Over the past 20 years, the American media have repeatedly disclosed various incidents of prisoner abuse by the US military and intelligence departments. In 2017, a prosecutor of the International Criminal Court decided to fully investigate possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the United States.

  Third, the so-called western-style democracy may not be suitable for Afghanistan’s national conditions. Modern western democratic system can be generally established in European and American countries, which has gone through hundreds of years. During this period, it experienced the enlightenment of the Renaissance and the religious revolution, the direct promotion of the industrial revolution, and the repeated baptism of the bourgeois revolution. However, Afghanistan does not have the corresponding economic, class and ideological and cultural foundation. First of all, Afghanistan is one of the least developed countries in the world, with a low level of productivity. Secondly, since the 20th century, the capitalist economy has developed to a certain extent in Afghanistan, and a constitutional monarchy or a republican regime was established in the 1960s and 1970s. However, on the whole, the polarization between the rich and the poor in Afghanistan is wide, and about 40% of the population still lives below the poverty line. Thirdly, there are many tribes and ethnic groups in Afghanistan, and their identity is higher than that of the state, resulting in serious social and political polarization. Afghanistan is an Islamic country, and most people believe in Islam. It is difficult for many people, especially the middle and lower classes, to accept western democratic values. In such a country, Western-style democracy may aggravate the political and social division in Afghanistan, leading to national instability and ineffective governance.

  It can be seen that the war in Afghanistan, which lasted for nearly 20 years, left a turbulent, divided and poor Afghanistan, and the United States should deeply reflect on its wrong policies.

  (Author: Wang Feng, Unit: China Institute of African Studies, China Academy of Social Sciences)


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