Daily Editorial Analysis for 4th Sep 2021

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  5. Daily Editorial Analysis for 4th Sep 2021


Certainly not the end of the road for the U.S.

Why in News

  • The future of Afghanistan is yet to be determined, but the debate has abruptly shifted to the future of the United States after its withdrawal from Afghanistan. This may be the first time in history that a ruler is sought to be punished for ending a war of 20 years.

Defining event

  • To understand the present plight of the U.S., we need to go back to the terrorist bombing of 9/11, which was a game-changing global experience.
  • It transformed the geopolitics of the world, which was determined by the size of the nuclear arsenals of the nuclear weapon states.
  • The most powerful country in the world, which had the capacity to destroy the world many times over, became powerless before a few terrorists, who had only knives and forks as weapons.
  • In one clean swoop, the theories of the balance of power, mutually assured destruction and nuclear weapons superiority went up in smoke with the Twin Towers of New York.
  • Once the responsibility of the attack was traced to Osama bin Laden and the terrorists in Afghanistan, it was imperative for the U.S. to retaliate by overthrowing the Taliban regime and hunting out and killing bin Laden.

Benefits of the U.S. presence

  • The U.S. accomplished its mission within a short period but it was not able to withdraw because the Afghanistan government was unable to withstand the onslaught of the Taliban and other terrorist groups. Even neighbouring countries, including India, were strongly in favour of continuing the American presence.
  • Pakistan played a double game — of being a partner on the one hand and an adversary on the other. It was not a matter of the Americans imposing themselves, but being invited to provide certain stability for Afghanistan.
  • The result of their presence was the prevalence of relative peace in the region except that Pakistan fattened the Taliban with American largesse. In the process, the troops in Afghanistan protected the homeland and the Americans, because the Taliban and other groups were kept engaged in Afghanistan territory.

The Afghan exit

  • Withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan was yet another unfinished agenda he had inherited and what he did was merely to follow up the agreement reached with the Taliban and announce a deadline, in the expectation that the Afghan forces trained and equipped by the Americans and the Kabul government would step into the vacuum.
  • As Mr. Biden pointed out, the decision about Afghanistan was not just about Afghanistan. It was about “ending an era of major military operations to remake other countries”. But the series of events that happened till the end of August 2021 completely wiped out what should have been the good ending of a partly successful war on terror.
  • Even if the exit became a disaster because of the wrong calculations on the part of the military advisers, who stand condemned by the retired flag officers for the tragic and avoidable debacle, to declare it as the end of the road for Mr. Biden and the United States is unfair and graceless.
  • History is replete with events of extreme folly by rulers who survived because of the many other mitigating factors in their favour. By those standards, the Biden presidency has every reason to survive.
  • The decisiveness with which he has handled the debris of the exit should receive approbation. As a true Commander-in-Chief, he stood by his Generals and took the blame. He has not even been provoked to attack the Taliban or to criticise the Afghan forces for their betrayal of their patrons. In fact, he went out of his way to announce that the Taliban was helpful in facilitating the evacuation, which was completed before the deadline, interestingly; it was Mr. Biden who set the August 31 deadline, which was turned into an ultimatum by the Taliban.
  • In the case of U.S. President Gerald Ford, 59% of the people said that he deserved none of the blame at all. Only 2% held him responsible, though he lost the elections in 1976. President Ronald Reagan’s misadventure in Lebanon was criticised by 60% Americans in 1984, but he won the election later that year.
  • There were reasons for these Presidents to continue to serve the nation, taking the reverses in certain areas in their stride. As of now, there is no alternative to President Biden to lead the country, after his having learnt a bitter lesson from the Afghan experience.

No setting sun

  • Even more unfortunate is the conclusion that the U.S. itself lost its place in the world on account of its failure to have a sagacious leader or a competent Commander-in -Chief.
  • A superpower does not sink or rise on account of a single leader. It is still the most powerful economic and military power around which the whole constellation of the world rotates.
  • In fact, the world has a stake in ensuring that a democratic nation leads the world rather than an expansionist dictatorship which has no public opinion to restrain it.
  • The free world has a responsibility to maintain the American leadership of the world till a wiser and more benign alternative is found.

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