Wednesday, September 01, 2021

WaPo: I was a combat interpreter in Afghanistan, where cultural illiteracy led to U.S. failure

When comparing the Taliban with the United States and its Western allies, the vast majority of Afghans have always viewed the Taliban as the lesser of two evils.  


Zeeshan Aleem: Was there a significantly better way to withdraw from Afghanistan? 

Anand Gopal: Well, there was and there wasn't. 

There was a better way to do it if Washington faced certain hard ground truths. What would have been the better way was if the U.S. government had secured a deal with the Taliban that began a process of transfer of power to them, while the U.S. was still in the country. But that would have meant completely undermining the Afghan government to do that; it would've meant recognizing the Afghan government, basically, is a creation of the U.S. entirely, and has no real legitimacy on the ground. So that would've been a pretty major paradigm shift, almost a greater paradigm shift than just simply cutting and running, I think.

As I said, they could, but of course, they couldn't. 

And Gopal uses the same line as Ahadi (in WaPo) 

So really, you had a one-sided war in those years, between 2001 and 2004, where the U.S. was fighting an enemy that didn't exist, and innocent people were the ones who were suffering. That really is what created the Taliban's resurgence. The Taliban wasn't a popular force in 2001, but in these communities, people saw the Taliban as a lesser of two evils to the violence perpetuated by the U.S. and by the U.S. proxies. 

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