A hasty retreat

Anyone would be hard-pressed to avoid the news about Afghanistan last week, even those of us who have unplugged from bluescreens. The tragic images of young women pleading with soldiers to save them from the Taliban, are only slightly less harrowing than the footage of mothers passing their babies over razor wire to US troops at the Kabul airport. 

While it seems that British and French troops are managing to evacuate their own nationals, thousands of American citizens and allies are waiting to be rescued. Although the Taliban said they would allow safe passage out of the country for foreigners, reports that they have placed blockades around the airport would suggest otherwise. Daily Wire is reporting that Americans have been beaten up by Taliban soldiers in recent days. President Biden has said troops deployed to complete the evacuation of Americans will stay put until the job is done.

Axios says that the military is considering airstrikes to destroy American equipment which has been seized by the Taliban. The move could be risky, though, with foreign nationals still waiting to leave the country. The abandoned munitions, weapons and vehicles, including Black Hawk helicopters were given to the Afghan military. The concern that the Taliban making mischief with them is not as worrying as them being given to other terrorist groups.

The Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, fled the country not long before the Taliban took control of Kabul and has reportedly surfaced in the United Arab Emirates, loaded with cash, defrauded from foreign aid programs. However former Vice-President Amrullah Saleh has vowed to fight the Taliban, although he is in hiding. Resistance fighters are creating hold-outs, expelling the Taliban from some regional towns. 

The work of dissecting “what went wrong” has been the job of every news outlet, apparently, and it appears there is plenty of blame to go round. While President Biden’s handling of the drawdown has been widely criticized, much ink has been spilled on the implications of the collapse of the Afghan state. Some commentators suggest that Western powers repeatedly failed the Afghan military, who appeared to have capitulated under Taliban insurgence. JD Vance and others suggested that America should learn that “nation building” begins at home (Matt Taibbi and Unherd) and they make a good point. Writing at Spiked, Brendan O’Neill pointed out the strength of a group like Taliban is that they know what they’re fighting for. He writes: “America and its Western allies are too consumed by wokeness to be able to pursue a moral or military struggle for their values.”

Taliban fighters enjoyed amusement park rides before they burned down the park.

Pray for the situation, for the government and those making huge decisions. Pray especially for veterans of the conflict who are wondering if all that they suffered and sacrificed in the hope of ending this branch of terrorism was worth it.

National Geographic has summarized the centuries of struggle for Afghanistan.

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