So, what’s REALLY going on? Is the apparent Taliban “victory” in Afghanistan masking the true narrative?
Afghanistan has “fallen”, that’s the line. The Taliban forces have taken the opportunity of US/NATO withdrawal and swept across the entire country, taking every major city within a week and with barely a shot fired.
Meanwhile, the press are reporting dozens of stories about the humanitarian crises, refugees fleeing the new regime, the fate of women under the Taliban, and “shocking videos” of desperate people.
That’s the official story. But what’s really going on?
1. DID THE TALIBAN REALLY JUST WIN?
Firstly, let’s be clear, the US has not “pulled out” of Afghanistan, not in the true sense of the phrase. They still reserve the right to bomb the place. There are still private contractors in the country. And the Pentagon are already booking their return tickets.
Secondly, the Taliban didn’t “win”, they were unopposed. More than unopposed, they were directly aided. When the US abandoned Bagram airbase they left hundreds of armored vehicles, weapons and over 5000 alleged Taliban prisoners…all of which “accidentally” fell into the hands of the advancing Taliban forces.
The Afghan army, under command of US puppet President Ashraf Ghani, essentially folded without a shot being fired. Tens of thousands of US-trained and armed troops did nothing to stop the advance of the enemy.
The Washington Post’s Max Boot, writing for the Council on Foreign Relations, ties himself in mental knots trying to explain how the Afghan army, with superior numbers AND firepower, “collapsed under pressure”.
The Independent reports that the billions the Pentagon spent on training Afghan security forces has “accidentally” benefited the Taliban, who have now seized vehicles, missiles and aircraft.
The press clearly sees it for what it is – a hole in their story they really need to plug.
All things being equal, the simplest explanation is often the most likely. And the simplest explanation here is that the Afghan security forces were ordered to stand down as part of a deal with the Taliban. There are reports and rumours on social media of deals being done:
The Afghan Perspective@TAfPerspectiveThe Secret Deal b/w US, Taliban & Afghan Govt (A thread): It is said that the trio agreed to peacefully handover #Afganistan to #Taliban. Which is why the 350K Forces including 10K AirForce collapsed like dominos in the span of a week only and without a single bullet fired. 1/712:29 AM · Aug 17, 2021·Twitter for Android
And, of course, the exact terms of the peace agreement, signed by Trump and Taliban last year, are not known. But it’s interesting to note that this agreement actually called for a handover of exactly 5000 Taliban prisoners. The same number “accidentally” left unguarded at Bagram Airbase.
One interpretation is that the withdrawal has gone exactly as planned in the deal signed by Trump. And that the melodrama and “chaos” of the pull-out was either a part of the deal, or a later addition to either cause a distraction or save some face.
2. IS THE CHAOS REAL?
The media have been generating memes to sell the “chaos” of the Taliban’s advance. The go-to comparison has been the fall of Saigon, because the (completely unintentional) “near-identical images” (completely unintentionally) “went viral”.
We’re treated to a lot of viral video footage. Ranging from the questionable:
Does this video not ring true to anyone else? If these are all desperate refugees, where are the women & children? Why are most of them jogging nonchalantly & making no effort to get on the plane? Why are people stopping, smiling & waving to the camera? #AfghanistanAirport
To the outright bizarre:
All of this serves a purpose, aside from the distraction of emotive metaphors and lurid headlines. It all aids in the construction of a narrative.
And then read: