The Rise and Fall of America in Afghanistan

16 March 2015

By Al-Ikhwah Al-Mujahidun

Fourteen years prior America - proud of its military prowess and speaking only the language of the sword - invaded Afghanistan. Not in their wildest dreams (or worst nightmare) did they imagine that just over a decade later they will be fleeing this land with their tail between their legs. It was not just Americans, many around the world refused to consider that this, technologically, the most advanced war machine of our time will face defeat at the hands of Afghans whom with their bare hands would break this war machine beyond recognition, relegating the last super-power of the previous century, to the status of a mere regional player.

To many this shouldn't sound strange. When the Warsaw Pact nations invaded Afghanistan mere three decades earlier, many experts and observers believed that Afghanistan will be subdued by the Red Army within 24 hours. A decade later the Red Army was forced to withdraw from Afghanistan, the Warsaw Pact shattered, and the Soviet Union soon started crumbling under the shame of its defeat. The disintegration of the Soviet Union left United States as the sole remaining super power of the world. Its remarkable victories in the first Gulf War merely reinforcing its status as an invincible army and military juggernaut. American military thinkers scoffed at the loss of Soviet Union in Afghanistan. They argued that Soviet military equipment was obsolete, its military thinking corrupt, and its economic system fundamentally flawed. Hence its defeat to the ragtag army of Mujahideen was inevitable. Thus when a decade latter American army invaded this same land they were confident of victory. Military victory, in their mind was a foregone conclusion, rather they touted grand plans of state-building on the scale of Marshall Plan. They would bring democracy to Afghanistan, invade more nations, coercing and caressing the entire Middle East towards democracy in the shape of the American (Israeli) dream.

Yet military might is not always measured in materialistic terms. Had this been true the Muslim armies of 14 hundred years ago would have had no chance against the military might of the Persian and Byzantine Empires. So it was that yet another military super power invaded Afghanistan, was routed by the war weary nation of Afghanistan, and yet another not-yet- defeated military alliance (NATO) was forced to its knees in this land. While Afghanistan might be considered as 'backwards' in many other fields of world civilization, yet Allah Almighty has distinguished this nation with the honor that many a great Empire has invaded our land and its arrogance and haughtiness turned to ashes by the proud and valiant nations of Afghanistan.

The Macedonian army of Alexander invaded Afghanistan to serve as a strategic flank for his conquest of India. His armies suffered such heavy losses in the mountains of Bactria that it dried up their appetite for further conquest. Having barely entered the plains of India, his phalanxes rebelled against the Macedonian king, forcing him on his fatal journey back to Persia. The invincible armies of Genghis Khan, having defeated the entire old world, invaded Afghanistan as a mere 'backdrop' wasteland. Their aim being little more than to gather more laurels celebrating their glory. Yet his armies faced such fierce resistance in the mountainous Afghanistan that fearing unless his supply lines are constantly being looted by Afghan tribes, he gave up his invasion of India the remaining bastion of great riches not yet plundered by the Golden Horde. Several centuries later, Britain, the largest sea empire the world had ever known, tested fate by invading Afghanistan. One massacred army later she too began to doubt her prowess and resorted to more 'British' style of handling Afghanistan. Then the Russian bear, learning nothing from the British lion, decided to invade Afghanistan, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Afghanistan might be 'backwards' in some measures but it has always being a rock in an ocean of uncertainty. It has served as a bastion protecting the shores of Persia, Central Asia and India from marauding armies. The great Turkish tribes that trampled the Middle East never set foot in India. The great Indian Empires never extended beyond Khyber Pass, the Persian Empire never crossed the Indus. Why? Simply because when standing on the foothills of Afghanistan and contemplating the task ahead, they could see nothing but diminishing returns.

Yet admittedly there is a sea of difference between the times when men fought on horseback with their swords and now when they fight with tanks, helicopters and fighter planes. The mountains of Afghanistan hardly look so formidable when you can simply fly over them with helicopters and carrier planes. Alas the story of the two super powers of twentieth century, who both invaded Afghanistan and then left with bitter taste in their mouths.

What they both failed to comprehend is that Afghanistan was not the graveyards of empires because of the high mountains. Rather it was due to those that dwelled in those mountains. The sky-rising mountains of Afghanistan protect a mighty nation, accustomed to the harsh conditions of the land, who value their freedom and beliefs more than life itself. They will fight fiercely for their freedom, no matter the odds. To subdue them you will either need to kill them to the last man, or coopt them in your adventurous, and supposedly profitable, enterprise. The latest invader failed to offer either of those. Instead it offered servitude in the garb of freedom. It offered promiscuity in the garb of development. And it offered massacres in the name of democracy. To some it might have seemed like an irresistible proposition but when you have been invaded so often then the tone of your enemy's voice speaks more than the words coming out of his mouth will ever reveal.

America today is tired. It admits that the war in Afghanistan has been the longest in its history. It admits that this war has economically crippled her. Yet it must fight on. It must try and create a semblance of an orderly withdrawal because what is at stake for her is far more than merely the mountains of Afghanistan. It is her status, as a globally unchallenged power. It is the fear she inspires on the world stage. If she loses her standing then she will need to work twice as hard to reestablish herself as the dominant force in international politics. So she must fight on. She must change tact, change labels for her involvement, issue more resolutions, sign more treaties, convene more international conferences, and fight to her last breath. Ironically however, the more America lingers in Afghanistan, the deeper her grave becomes and the more tarnished it will appear when her armies finally leave Afghanistan. America thinks that by prolonging her presence in Afghanistan it can save its stature as a global power and help its military alliance from unfolding. Yet the more she stays in the quagmire that is Afghanistan, the louder her death pangs become and the clearer her new found weaknesses appear to the prying eyes of emerging powers. 



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