Real Cause of the US Defeat in Afghanistan


           By Sajjad Shaukat Pak VT

Much has been written and said by the international media about the recent victory of the Taliban freedom fighters and humiliated defeat of the US in Afghanistan, as the world’s most powerful military was ejected out of one of the weakest countries after a 20-year of war. Perhaps, analysts have not paid much attention to the real cause of the US defeat and triumph of the Taliban, which has been discussed in this article.

Showing contradictory statements, American President Joe Biden defended the military pullout from Afghanistan by mentioning various unrealistic justifications. He stated: “The decision to leave Afghanistan is the right one for America”, and the collapse of the Afghan government amid the Taliban’s rapid advance “did unfold more quickly than we anticipated—I’ve argued for many years that our mission should be narrowly focused on counterterrorism, not counter-insurgency or nation building.”

Regarding former Afghan government and the vanquished forces, Biden remarked: “We could not provide them with the will to fight.”

Faced with severe criticism at home, Biden’s unilateral decision of Afghanistan’s exit was also disapproved by America’s Western allies and other NATO countries who held him accountable for the Taliban’s takeover, while admitting the defeat of the US-led NATO powers in one way or the other. NATO allies urged the member states to rethink on alliance with the US.

EU defence and security officials stated that it has weakened NATO and raised questions about Europe’s security dependence on Washington—this kind of troop withdrawal caused chaos—unfortunately, the West, and Europe in particular, are showing that they are weaker globally. Twenty years of sacrifice is what it is.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg insisted that there had been “no willingness from other European Countries or from Canada to fill in for the US once it announced withdrawal plan. The failure of the alliance’s training programme was also one big question…Why were the [Afghan] forces we trained and equipped and supported over so many years… not able to stand up against Taliban in a stronger and better way than they did?”

While, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani who fled the country thought that if the US-led NATO forces which were well-equipped with latest arms failed in battling the Taliban fighters, as to how Afghan forces could encounter them.

America’s some retired civil and military officials justified the Taliban’s control of Afghanistan and withdrawal of the US-led NATO troops by saying that it was intelligence failure, particularly of CIA.

US President Biden had already announced on April 14, 2021 that he would begin withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan from May 1, setting a deadline for unconditional pullout of all 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan by September 11 to end America’s longest war by implementing the US-Taliban agreement signed in Doha, Qatar on February 29, 2020. America and other NATO countries began withdrawing their forces from Afghanistan from May 1.

As regards Biden’s hastily declaration, Western media had reported: “President Biden said that no amount of US forces can deter the Taliban or end the war…the Taliban is moving closer to a military victory…The war in Afghanistan shattered Biden’s faith in American military power.”

The Washington Post pointed out on December 19, 2019: “A confidential trove of government documents reveals that senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable.”

Notably, in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks inside its homeland, the US held Al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden responsible for the incident, and attacked Afghanistan where he had taken shelter though Bin Laden denied any involvement in those terror-assaults—America also toppled the Taliban government.

Pakistan joined the US-led Global War on Terror (GWoT) owing to its fragile economy and hostile factor of India. Pakistan was granted the status of non-NATO ally by America due to the early successes, achieved by Pakistan’s Army and country’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) against the Al-Qaeda militants.

When the US-led NATO forces felt that they were failing in coping with the stiff resistance of the Taliban in Afghanistan, especially American high officials and their media started a blame game against Pak Army and ISI of supporting cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan to divert attention from their defeatism in that country and also to pacify their public. As part of the US double game, they constantly emphasized upon Islamabad to do more against the militants and continued the CIA-operated drone attacks on Pakistan’s tribal areas by ignoring the internal backlash in the country.

During the invasion of Afghanistan and after occupation, the brutal tactics of the US-led NATO like heavy air bombardment and ground shelling by the sophisticated war machinery, including special military operations and extra-judicial assassinations killed many innocent persons. The US military strategic warlords who created a paralysing effect of ‘shock and awe’ displayed the terrible inferno of destruction in Afghanistan.

And the American troops, CIA and notorious private military firm Blackwater employed various methods of torment on the militants and suspected persons and thus eliminated countless people in Afghanistan.

But, despite their modern military might, the US-led NATO forces failed in coping with the Taliban warriors, who were no match to them and who depended on ordinary weapons, acting upon the successful tactics of guerrilla warfare. They know that they were fighting a war of liberation. Hence, they were filled with the passion of Jihad.

On the other side, the US/NATO military personal knew that they had been sent to a far-flung country, while there was no danger of direct attack on their countries by any foreign entity. So, they were already demoralised.

In fact, conflict between the occupying forces and the Taliban freedom combatants was simply a ‘clash of wills’. Military thinkers agree that although the physical force will determine the type and scale of war, yet it is the ‘will to fight’ or ‘moral force’ that determines the outcome of war. Clausewitz puts it this way, “One might say that the physical force seems little more than the wooden hilt, while moral factors are the precious metal, the real weapon”.

In his book, “Fighting Power: German and U.S. Army Performance, 1939-1945”, Creveld identifies the elements of moral force, whom he calls “fighting power, the willingness to fight and the readiness, if necessary, to die.” The greater these elements, the less vulnerable an armed force will be to demoralisation. Moral force, then, is the crucial factor in determining the combat power of any belligerent.

In this connection, Harry Summers advocating the moral force in his book, “On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War,” points out how the failure to mobilise the will of the people eventually resulted in the US defeat in Vietnam despite the latter’s extreme military weakness. He explains, “When America’s moral force gave way, national cohesion failed, and the military might of the United States rapidly dwindled until it was no longer a match for a tiny, third world nation”.

Again, the US faced the same defeat in Afghanistan.

However, the war between the US-led NATO and the Taliban proved that such elements like ‘will to fight’ and ‘moral force’ had been more noted in the latter who had exerted psychological impact of causing fear, shock, mental depression and stress, resulting into demoralisation of the latter.

In this respect, a new study from a researcher Thomas Howard Suitt at Brown University pointed out on June 23, 2021: “The US global war on terror, unleashed in the aftermath of the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has led to 30,177 suicides by US troops…even as war operations in Afghanistan are winding down…the last three years have seen the worst consecutive, year-to-year suicide rates among active troops.”

As for the reasons, driving suicides, Suitt indicated: “multiple factors…increased use of improvised explosive devices that have caused a significant number of traumatic brain injuries…depression…stress, continued access to guns, and the difficulty of reintegrating into civilian life.”

Moreover, failure in crushing the war of liberation and the prolonged war also demoralized the US military especially.

Nonetheless, demoralisation, particularly found in the American troops is the real cause of the US defeat in Afghanistan.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations



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  1. now they must think to the soldiers which are for the majority addicted of opium and heroin, so americans have millions of addicted at home and the thounsandt of soldiers come home very full of heroin related drugs….. Usa was, is and will be the more addicted population of the whole world, thanks to their secret services which control and continue to have the vaste majority of drug business in their hands, in central america, in south america, in middle east and africa and at home. gold triangle was the start…. then they never stopped to use the dirty money of drugs for their dirty affairs

  2. Who says the US was defeated in Afghanistan ?
    If one doesn’t get the real reason why after Russians were pushed out of Afghanistan, US wanted it ALL, the resources, the presence the opium the military contracts and the latest lithium, and have packed away enough for many decades, he or she is in lala land.

    And as far as the Republineocons who put a 50/50 split labels on themselves in the US show and tell who seem to never be happy with how much they have and are constantly pounding on Biden, the one president who made a clear decision to pull out and deliver, there is a great recap in Washington Compost “Opinion: Biden tells some hard truths few want to hear” ….

    He will be remembered eventually as the Gorbachev of Washington.

    • Many don’t know that Russians found all the resources back then. They included precious stones such as aquamarine, emerald and other varieties of beryl, fluorite, garnet, kunzite, ruby, sapphire, lapis lazuli, topaz, tourmaline, and varieties of quartz.

      Talc was the easiest to extract and was the main source of income for Daesh when “they stopped getting paid” lol…

  3. > “But, despite their modern military might, the US-led NATO forces failed in coping with the Taliban warriors …”

    Tech provides the ability to be remote from the irrational, embarrassing, uncomfortable, dangerous, fool-making dirty reality. Tech is a servant that creates remote control illusions about reality to make life more comfortable and predictable.
    The more sophisticated the tech, the more remote from reality the user is and the greater the illusion.
    The ability to layer comfortable, simple Illusion over painful, beyond-reason Reality and to Illusion to be reality is the reason wars are started, as well as the reason wars that will be lost.

  4. “”””When America’s moral force gave way, national cohesion failed, and the military might of the United States rapidly dwindled until it was no longer a match for a tiny, third world nation.””””

    It’s become very clear now, that America is not what it used to be.
    I’m sure the whole world sees it too; especially China. And Russia.
    We have been totally drained of all moral high ground. We are basically the world’s pathetically impotent pariah.

  5. Michael Shrimpleton reported that the Afghan military “allied” with the US forces simply STOPPED GETTING PAID!
    True or False??
    I will guess Shrimpleton correct on this one.

    There you go as to WHY the collapse was so quick. Dont pay them they wont play your game.

    Only ones left to defend the Opiym plantations are the militias protecting the owners of the plantations, and the owners are the US military occupying the country for 20 years.

    Goodbye Heroin growers and profiteers…Addicts will have to switch to the synthetic pill popper brands and help the US drug corporation profits.

    Hello the “evil” Taliban who never used drones or airstrikes to kill hundreds of thousands of civiilians and never allowed Opium farms… and nevert needed US dollars to defeat the US drug profiteers and occupiers.

  6. The old Marx brothers quote comes to mind, “Who ya gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?” Americans have chosen to ignore objective reality and believe instead a fable about evil Muslims attacking the USA, when in fact it was Israel who nuked us on that horrible day and got away with it. This disconnection from objective reality led our Congress to authorize the invasion of Afghanistan within days of the attacks. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) was the lone ‘no’ vote in Congress against the war. At the time, she was reviled for being unpatriotic, even receiving death threats. “When I voted ‘no,’ I said it was a blank check and would set the stage for perpetual war, and that’s what it’s done,” she said. How right she was.

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