On the way to the peripheral power
Retreating and losing US positions more and more often, will they show "teeth"?
According to the correspondent of The Moscow Post, the reason for the war in Afghanistan was a shock - a terrorist attack on the territory of the United States on September 11, 2001. The end of this war was also a shock. Remember CNN's live report from New York? The tragedy, destruction, thirst for revenge gave the United States an excuse to send troops to Afghanistan, and then to Iraq, to make operations collective actions of the West. According to estimates, almost 15 thousand Americans died in these wars. Economic costs exceeded $6 trillion. But the damage caused by Al-Qaida (a terrorist organization banned in Russia) pales in comparison with the damage that America caused by these operations to itself.
The number of victims of the Afghan war exceeded 240 thousand, including 70 thousand people of the local population. The ranks of civilizers are also thinned. Only killed NATO forces lost more than as a result of attacks on the Gemini Towers and the Pentagon in 2001. But the main thing is that the United States, leaving Kabul, surrendered Afghanistan to almost the same forces with which they fought. They left this country in a state of civil war, on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe. Foreign exchange deficits, pandemics, security problems, suspension of Western subsidies can all cause collapse.
The threat of terrorism emanating from the region remained there. Why did this happen and what happens next?
And then the confused West decided to hold a G7 meeting. Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping will separately discuss the situation. The Russian president has already had a conversation with European Council President Charles Michel.
What Biden and his "team" will do in the post-Afghan period is not yet clear. When the USSR finally curtailed its military presence in Afghanistan in 1989, the United States had no cause for concern. Moscow then considered Washington a priority partner. Gorbachev and Bush in Malta announced the end of the Cold War.
After the evacuation of the US armed forces from Kabul, the situation is different. The loss of Afghanistan gave Joe Biden and the European Union fear of strengthening Russia's position in this part of Eurasia. Tension and hostility in relations with Moscow remained the same, cross-border threats to the Central Asian region increased.
Secretary of State Blinken, while in Qatar on September 7, thanked the US military, which is based there, praised them for the successful evacuation of 124 thousand people from Kabul, including 58 thousand in transit through Doha. He also announced the "beginning of a new chapter" in relations with Afghanistan, a special role in these relations of Qatar. What will be filled with this "new chapter" Washington is still silent.
Henry Kissinger, former secretary of state and national security adviser to the president, said that the failure in Afghanistan is due to Washington's inability to set achievable goals and follow a strategic line acceptable to all interested parties. When, after the beginning of the military operation in 2001 the Talibs (the Taliban is banned in the Russian Federation) went to Pakistan, there was a chance to coordinate actions with China, Russia, Pakistan and India. This moment was missed, such an opportunity was not even considered, "Kissinger noted.
In fact, it cannot be ruled out that some Afghan troops, trained by British and American specialists, sided with the new Taliban authorities (the Taliban movement, a terrorist organization banned in Russia).
Another step toward multipolarity?
The degree of loss to Washington's reputation can be very high. Doubts about the role of the United States, as a leader and superpower, even came from London. In Europe, they announced the need to create their own rapid deployment forces, causing dissatisfaction with NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg.
Harvard University professor Joseph Nye, a theorist of the role of the American "soft power," who worked under Clinton as director of National Intelligence and deputy secretary of defense, back in 2015 answered the question "Has the American century ended?" And said "no," America "has no replacement, no successor."
But the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have caused many to change their minds. "Imagine what peace would be like if Bush avoided the tempting call for a global war on terrorism and responded to September 11 with carefully selected military strikes combined with good intelligence and diplomacy. Or, if he had left in six months, even if it required negotiations with the despised Taliban (a terrorist organization banned in Russia), "says Nye today.
The terrorist attack on the United States in September 2001 showed an incredibly high degree of influence of these attacks on the psychology of the American elite. Material damage can be compensated, new buildings built. But it was not possible to get rid of a sense of vulnerability and uncertainty. Evacuations from Kabul added problems.
The terrorist attacks in September 2001 were only an occasion to introduce troops into Afghanistan. Long before that, the United States was looking at this country, its strategic situation in the region. Attempts by any means to counteract the USSR, relying on the Mujahideen, the United States actually "dug a hole," into which they themselves fell.
From builders to interventionists
It is too early to assess the long-term consequences of the decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. According to many observers, this step will allow Biden to focus on a strategy aimed at "balancing China." He planned to do this together with Japan and Australia, India and Vietnam. These countries should, it is believed, support the United States.
This could be a symbol of America's "post-Afghan leadership." But mechanisms for projecting power and influence cause failures. Military force or threats of force have lost their former credibility. Frontal attacks on Russia or China are dangerous. Attempts to remake countries along the lines of anti-communism failed in Vietnam. The model of Japan and Germany for replication did not fit. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, it was not possible to combine messianism with the goals of gaining a foothold in Eurasia. Economic bans and political blackmail in relation to the Nord Stream-2 project have not yielded results.
Points such as Ukraine, Taiwan, the Senkaku Islands and other regional differences remain. Washington's interest in "combing" these points can be called a strategy for relying on "peripheral debris." And in the case of Ukraine (and the Baltic states), this approach also requires disguising disregard for the principles of political competition, freedom of speech and the media, rejection of totalitarianism and cultural and linguistic genocide, outright Nazism.
From the "nation of builders" (Franklin Roosevelt used this expression in November 1941), America became a counterproductive partner, debtor and intervener.
It remains only to continue to consolidate the countries of NATO, Japan and Australia under such an invention as "democracies against autocracies." And to the detriment of the economic interests of "democracies"! As they say, "if fish fight, an Englishman swam there." Where the American passed, countries paint in "white" and "black," as in Hollywood films.
Through the eyes of Americans
Concepts such as "free, democratic and prosperous country" no longer apply to America, as Americans themselves believe. And threats to US interests are inside, including "diseases, ecology, borders with loopholes for immigrants, violations of privacy rights, loss of internal unity," said Andrew Basevich, president of the Quincy Institute.
The New York Times writes that "the American empire is retreating, reminiscent of the sunset of the Roman Empire," but so far only on its periphery. The Washington Post states that "the era of America's superiority has ended." The American Conservative magazine goes even further, arguing that "Afghanistan marks the complete political and spiritual sunset of the West." We have ceased to be one nation, we are two peoples in the same geographical territory, readers comment on these statements. The crowd in the Capitol is also a sign of decline, others add.
Whether America can change its approach to the world, "restoring and updating the concept of American freedom," depends on its internal state. As noted in The Wall Street Journal, in order to restore lost confidence at home and abroad, America must raise its foreign policy to a new level of consistency and competence. "
Defeat on the periphery threatens the center of power, which has already cracked along the line of "passage between the seats in Congress," separating the Democrats from the Republicans. Awareness of weakness can accelerate the aggravation of domestic problems, cause an increase in distrust of the United States in the European Union and Asian countries. "There are very few safe routes from empire to the common state, and you should fear the consequences of weakness," said The Washington Post, the main beacon of political sentiment in the capital.
In the conditions "after Afghanistan," Russia may face new attacks of hostility from the United States, "circus tricks" with the participation of Kiev or London. But you should especially be afraid of played friendliness. But this, most likely, does not threaten Russia.
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