Afghanistan Today

It takes something fairly big in world news to make the local news here. They say that the Taliban has captured four provincial capitals and Afghanistan will fall within a few days. I know several brave Canadian soldiers who fought in Kandahar for long periods, and who helped build schools thinking they were establishing stability and democracy. I bet they are having a tough time with this.

My questions:

  1. Does this issue have a personal connection to anyone?
  2. What does it mean, locally and globally, for the military and for future stability?

I suspect that those in the military who spent time there will say that they could have predicted it would go this way.

I see that China have tried to open relations with the Taliban. It seems to me that Chinas actions toward the Uighurs are just the kind of thing that the Taliban might want to attack through terror. This will just destabilize the rgion and put the population of Afghanistan right back into the 14th century.

The US will lose its influence over territory that has economic and strategic value. Conversely, China, Russia, and Iran stand to gain more influence, which can be both a blessing and a curse.

At this point, it’s hard to see the eventual collapse of the Afghan government as anything but inevitable - despite Biden bragging a few days ago that he had “great confidence” in the abilities of the Afghan government and military.

As for your 2 question, I guess it would all come down to whether the Taliban decides to host another terrorist group like al-Qaeda. I think they would not want to anymore.

What is the economic and strategic value of Afghanistan to the US?

I recently saw an interview with the author of this new book:
The American War In Afghanistan

He seemed very intelligent, informed and honest about evaluating the policy mistakes made at various stages of US military and diplomatic involvement.

I don’t pretend to know all of the minerals and resources that can be extracted from Afghanistan, but the US has tried to build a pipeline there since the 90s. There were negotiations with the Taliban within months of 9/11. The US didn’t initially regard the Taliban as an enemy regime; we just wanted them to stop hosting Al Qaida.

Iran will have little influence in Afghanistan because they are Shia and the Taliban are Sunni with ties to Saudi Arabia. China and Russia will also have little influence because they are not Muslim states. It will benefit the Sunni in their war with the Shia for control of the Islamic world.

Correct on all accounts - I guess what I meant was that there will be more involvement/engagement, but ‘influence’ was probably not the best choice of words. There’s the potential for national security risks for all three countries involved. Unlike the US, I doubt Russia and China would try their hand at nation-building; they’d be more inclined to go full-on Ghengis Khan if they thought it would suit their interests.

I have not yet read the book I linked above, but the author addressed that point specifically in his interview and said that the US did the exact opposite of what you suggest. The Taliban came to the US in 2001 to negotiate and the Bush Administration rejected them outright, including their offer to hand over Osama Bin Laden.

The Taliban are a weird bunch. Im not really sure they match up with anyone. They seem to want to go back hundreds of years in time. Im sure the Pakistanis in power arent too pleased because Afghanistan can be a base of operations for opposition groups.

But it seems like it was Pakistan’s military that helped the Taliban.

It’ll be interesting to see if ISIS, which is a transnational militia, can reconstitute itself and challenge the Taliban.

China won’t repeat Russia’s and America’s mistakes. If they decide they have interest in whatever natural resources are in Afghanistan, China will establish trade and buy rights directly from whichever tribe(s) controls the resources in question. China will have zero qualms about supplying weapons to help secure those trade agreements.

I agree. It will be interesting times for foreign policy wonks.

Background. For those who desire background. (Do not know how accessible these articles are to non-subscribers. Sorry.)

I disagree. China and Afghanistan share a border small that it is. The arms China supplies to Afghan tribes can easily be redirected to guerilla groups in Xinjiang. Chinese arrogance can easily lead them to be drawn into a conflict that might be worse than the Soviet/NATO adventures.

Actually for better background see:

American politicians should have known it would be crazy to intervene in Afghanistan.

It remains to be seen if China even expresses an interest in Afghanistan’s natural resources. But if they do, I don’t think they will resort to invasion forces as suggested by Asahi.

Agreed. But you said that China wont hesitate to arm factions in Afghanistan. This would be dangerous and could have unexpected consequences.