The Taliban on Sunday entered Afghanistan’s capital and took control of the presidential palace while Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani fled the country.
Just a month ago, US President Joe Biden said a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan was not inevitable, when defending the decision of US military withdrawal after two decades of the mission. Now, the Taliban declared a swift victory, as Afghanistan’s major cities all fell to the Taliban in about a week.
America’s longest war ended in complete fiasco and humiliation. It invaded Afghanistan in 2001 under the guise of “protecting local and global security” even if that came at the unimaginable expense of ruining another country. Ironically, when seeing rapid Taliban gains today, the US is speeding up its exit like a disinterested party. As ultimately leaving nothing constructive but a catastrophe in Afghanistan, the US lost credibility that has already been collapsing for years.
The war was a costly one in every respect. The twenty years of war have killed 47,245 Afghan civilians and cost the $2.26 trillion in total, according to Brown University’s The Costs of War Project. The project also estimates that 241,000 people have died as a direct result of this war.
And the cost and loss of lives have not yet ceased, although the US decided to end the war. For the US, their troops have finally said farewell to cruelty and casualties and the government has hastily dropped its obligations for the messy situation. But the Afghan civilians, who have never enjoyed peace and social stability during the prolonged war, still live in chaos and fear. The Afghan public has never embraced the so-called US-style democracy and a rebuilt Afghan society, which the US had promised to bring when initiating the war.
Afghanistan has witnessed a decade-long war led by external forces turning into a civil conflict. In history, empire after empire has come to the country, failed in their mission, and left. Now with the US defeat and retreat, the land is again abandoned by willful invaders full of scars hard to remedy.
The repeated turmoil on the “graveyard of empires” proved again that arbitrary and wanton intervention in a nation’s development path will inevitably end in failure and tragedy. And the US obsession with absolute security and its strategy of fighting its enemy thousands of miles away will eventually come to nothing but hurt to itself and others.