Taliban in Afghanistan

On the Fall of Afghanistan

1 September 2021

5.2 MINS

The fall of Afghanistan is a real worry indeed:

It has happened so quickly. Kabul is fallen. The Taliban have captured the capital of Afghanistan and President Ashraf Ghani has fled the country. The US Embassy there has been successfully evacuated, and some fighting is still taking place at Kabul International Airport, which has been run by the U.S. military.

So now we see another militant and dangerous Islamic tyranny rearing its head in the Middle East. This does not bode well for the region, and the days ahead look grim. Of course, many mistakes were made along the way here, and some Western commentators have said we never should have been involved there in the first place.

A Fool’s Errand?

American conservative and neo-isolationist Patrick Buchanan asked the question, “Who Lost America’s Longest War?” He writes:

What is critical for them is to restore the Taliban to their previous dominance; to create an Islamic Emirate; to make themselves the moral, social, and political arbiters of a more purely Islamic Afghanistan. And to be rid of the outsiders and their alien values. They want to be able to stand up and say to the Muslim world: “We have shown you how to do it. We fought America, the world superpower, for 20 years until we forced the Americans, tails between their legs, to get out of our land, and then put their puppets up against a wall.”

While our strategic defeat will leave Americans reluctant to attempt any such future imperial interventions, there needs to be an accounting.

The questions that need answering: Was not the attempt to transplant Madisonian democracy into the soil of the Middle and Near East a fool’s errand from the beginning? How many other U.S. allies field paper armies, which will collapse, if they do not have the Americans there to do the heavy lifting? Is what we have on offer — one man-one vote democracy — truly appealing in a part of the world where democracy seems to have trouble, from the Maghreb to the Middle East to Central Asia, putting down any deep roots?


It is early days yet to look at past mistakes, current realities, and future prospects. I will likely write more on these matters in the days to come. As to the current situation, as I say, it will not be pretty. American expert on Islam Robert Spencer wrote this:

As the U.S.-backed regime in Afghanistan folds with astonishing rapidity before the advancing Taliban, Old Joe Biden’s handlers, ever ready to prove how badly they can foul things up, are appealing to the Taliban to go easy, and dangling before these battle-hardened jihadis the chimerical prospect of acceptance by the bodies of world authority and opinion which those jihadis regard with nothing but contempt.

According to the Washington Post, “the U.S. argument to the Taliban is that if it avoids a direct confrontation with the more than 3,000 U.S. troops arriving in Kabul and waits for the completion of the evacuation, that increases the likelihood that both the international community and Afghans will accept the Taliban’s entry into the capital.”

Do the foreign policy “experts” in the State Department really think that the Taliban cares in the slightest degree for acceptance by “the international community”? The answer is actually yes, the State wonks do likely think that, and it’s just another illustration of how all their Foreign-Policy-Magazine Rand-Corporation Brookings-Institution expertise doesn’t move them even a millimeter closer to understanding the realities of Afghanistan, which is why we are in this fix now, a fix that has been utterly predictable (and I have predicted it, repeatedly) for the last twenty years.

In reality, the Taliban makes no secret of what it is all about: It is an Islamic group, dedicated to establishing the rule of Islamic law in Afghanistan. The word “Taliban” means “students,” i.e., students of the Qur’an and Sunnah. That’s basically all they’re about. The Taliban regards the “international community” as largely made up of jahili regimes, that is, societies of unbelievers that deserve no respect and certainly warrant no accommodation.

Whether the “international community” accepts the Taliban or doesn’t, the Taliban will soldier on for Allah. If they attain victory now, they will rule Afghanistan. If they don’t, they will keep fighting against the next crowd of infidels that comes into the country.

Persecuted Christians

While things continue to unfold there, a few other aspects of all this can be discussed. First, what will be the fate of the Christians in Afghanistan? That certainly is a real worry. One group that works with persecuted Christians is Barnabas Fund. It said this recently about the situation there:

“Afghan Christians are at huge risk… What is certain is that Afghan Christians, as converts from Islam, will be even more vulnerable under Taliban rule than under the Afghan government. The Taliban has publicly announced that Christians must convert, leave or be killed.”

Women and Girls in Jeopardy

And it is similar as to how women and children will now fare there. Political Islam does not have a good track record when it comes to these matters. In The Australian, Dr Ida Lichter, a Sydney-based psychiatrist and campaigner for women’s rights in Islamic societies, lamented the fact that “New wave feminists abandon Muslim sisters”.

With the piece behind a paywall, my friend John Ballantyne has helpfully offered five highlights from this important article:

  • Afghan women and girls are fleeing the Taliban. But this cause for alarm has met a seemingly inexplicable silence by the international feminist movement. When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001, women and girls were stripped of education, employment, and medical care. Girls older than eight were barred from school. Besides work in the poppy fields, women were prohibited from employment outside the home, forcing thousands of war widows to beg on the streets. Mandatory burkas concealed women’s bodies, leaving a small mesh opening for the eyes.
  • In the two decades of occupation by coalition forces, Afghan women gained precious rights, despite Taliban control in provincial strongholds, and a predominantly patriarchal society, where domestic violence and “honour killings” were endemic. Over 3,000 health centres were established, and maternal mortality fell by about 40 per cent. The number of girls in secondary education rose by a third, with 100,000 reaching university. Women voted in elections, ran for political office, and became MPs and judges, who fought corruption and discrimination.
  • In defiance of murder, intimidation, and harassment, advances in female empowerment were achieved through determined grassroots efforts, aided by coalition partners and humanitarian organisations. Australian government and NGO support provided women with access to health, education, and financial services. The Indigo Foundation built schools in a remote, impoverished areas, and the Afghan Peace Scholars project identified reform-minded female law students, who received travel grants from UNIFEM/UN Women Australia. These young women furthered their studies in Australian universities, with the aim of using the experience in rebuilding their country.
  • Apart from the American Feminist Majority Foundation, major international feminist organisations have shown little support for Afghan women, now, during the past 20 years, or previously. Feminists argue the call to liberate women from the Taliban was a pretext for the invasion and prolonged occupation. This narrative fits the anti-colonial feminist position, consistent with blaming an imperialist Christian West for oppressing the Muslim world.
  • In their current politicised trajectory, feminists have strayed far from basic women’s rights issues. They have lost the moral compass of their predecessors and forgotten a central purpose: the wellbeing of women. Blinkered by self-absorption and narrow focus, third- and fourth-wave feminists appear detached from the brutality and restrictions that beset Afghan women.

As mentioned, it is early days at this point. But the 1400-year record of political Islam tells us all we need to know here. Things will not go well in that nation. And as also mentioned, who is to blame for all this is a moot point. But one thing we can say with confidence: with weak-willed and weak-minded leaders like Joe Biden in the West, we have very little hope indeed of seeing anything good coming of all this.

Expect the worst.


Originally published at CultureWatch.

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