Updated: Aug 27
Joe Biden’s announcement that the United States would leave Afghanistan on September 11, 2021 has brought about a predictable increase in Taliban attacks on the already fragile
Afghan government’s urban centers and military installations – and most significantly – symbols of western-style modernity and secular civil society.
A bombing near a school in Kabul on Saturday killed at least 50 people, many of them young schoolgirls. At least 100 people were wounded in the attack, according to Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian, the Associated Press reports. He told the AP that casualties could continue to rise.
The Taliban opposes most education for women and girls, so female students were the likely targets. The Sayed Ul-Shuhada high school teaches boys and girls, but not together. Girls attend classes in the afternoon when the explosion occurred.
The New York Times reports that for the week ending May 6, "at least 140 pro-government forces and 44 civilians were killed in Afghanistan ... the highest death toll in a single week since October."
And NPR reported U.S. intelligence agencies have warned that "the Taliban is likely to make gains on the battlefield, and the Afghan government will struggle to hold the Taliban at bay if the coalition withdraws support."
We’ve seen this movie before, first in Vietnam and later in Afghanistan when the Soviets withdrew, and we know what’s going to happen next.
In Vietnam, it took less than a year for our allied government to fall after the last U.S. troops left and the North Vietnamese Communists resumed in earnest a war they had never stopped fighting. More than a million anti-communist refugees left Communist Vietnam by boat, with an estimated 200,000 to 400,00 dying in the attempt. Experts estimate up to 1.5 million refugees escaped but a high estimate of 10 percent died from drowning, piracy, dehydration, or otherwise never made landfall.
As interviews published by the Houston Asian American Archive explain, Communist forces from North Vietnam imprisoned and attempted to “reeducate” South-Vietnamese soldiers following the fall of Saigon. Ostensibly, the purpose of these camps was to adjust its subjects to the new, communist way of life, but the practical result was to hold dissidents indefinitely and break their spirits.
While the outflow continued for years with Vietnamese who spent months or years in forced labor or in government re-education camps trickling out to tell of the horrors of life under Communism, thanks to President Gerald Ford, and other advocates, thousands of South Vietnamese found refuge in the United States.
After the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan things were much different – the fighting between the forces loyal to the Soviet-backed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and the various anti-Soviet forces never really stopped.
While the Russian-backed government hung on for several years, and even formed a so-called Policy (and government) of National Reconciliation there was no reconciliation between the Marxists of the Afghan Communist Party, the various tribal and ethnic factions and most importantly the hardline Islamists that became the Taliban movement.
Thousand of Afghans were sucked into the maw of this religious, tribal, and ethnic war because they had nowhere to go – there were no boats out of Afghanistan – and the disintegrating Soviet Union was not a hospitable place for its former allies.
Even worse, as the savage Islamists of the Taliban gained control of more and more of the country those Western-oriented Afghans who had been America’s allies were hunted with the same ferocity as the adherents of the former Communist regime were hunted – there were no boats out of Afghanistan for them either.
It took about four years for the post-Soviet Republic of Afghanistan to dissolve into the savage Taliban theocracy, a lot longer than the CIA had estimated. In large measure its survival was due to the fighting and political skills of Ahmad Shah Massoud an anti-Soviet guerilla commander who served as Defense Minister of the post-Soviet republic and fought to defend Kabul and other urban centers before retreating to the Panjshir Valley of Northern Afghanistan.
On his way north to establish his redout in the Panjshir Valley Massoud dynamited the strategic Salang Tunnel ensuring that pursuit would be well-nigh impossible because he knew there were not going to be any boats out of Afghanistan for him or his followers. Massoud held out in the Panjshir Valley from 1996 until 2001 when he was assassinated as part of the Taliban - al-Qaeda planned September 11 attack on the United States.
The forces Massoud led and trained were instrumental in the United States’ post-9/11 suppression of the Taliban, but the Taliban were never defeated, and they are poised to retake power as soon as American military support for the Afghan government ends.
As we explained in our column “Biden Surrenders To Islamic Supremacy” the war in Afghanistan should have been a whole of government and culture war that was fought with a whole of government and culture approach to win it.
However, because America’s politicians and generals and the whiz kids of our intelligence agencies had no understanding of what was necessary to defeat our Islamist enemies, 2,312 brave Americans have been killed and 20,066 have been wounded in the war the Taliban and al-Qaeda declared on the West – and thousands of our erstwhile allies are being left stranded in the killing fields because there are no boats out of Afghanistan.
What will Joe Biden do when American forces leave Afghanistan?
Well, we know what he did when our South Vietnamese allies were looking for a way out of the re-education camps, forced labor camps and execution they faced in the aftermath of America’s abandonment of them.
Jerry Dunleavy of the Washington Examiner documented that, as a senator, future President Joe Biden was adamant that the U.S. had "no obligation, moral or otherwise, to evacuate foreign nationals," dismissing concerns for their safety as the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong swept south toward Saigon in 1975.
As South Vietnam collapsed at the end of the Vietnam War in the spring of 1975, President Gerald Ford and the U.S. government undertook to evacuate thousands of South Vietnamese families who had assisted the U.S. throughout the war. The leading voice in the Senate opposing this rescue effort was then-Sen. Joe Biden.
Hundreds of thousands of our South Vietnamese allies were in danger of retribution from the Communists, but Biden insisted that “the United States has no obligation to evacuate one — or 100,001 — South Vietnamese.”
If our Afghan allies are reading this our advice is to find the next Ahmad Shah Massoud, gather all the ammunition and supplies you can and head north to the Panjshir Valley, dynamite the Salang Tunnel and prepare to hold out for a long time, because with Joe Biden in the White House, there aren’t going to be any boats out of Afghanistan.
Joe Biden foreign policy
Ahmad Shah Massoud