The collapse of Afghanistan could deal a further blow to the credibility of the United States

BRUSSELS – Afghanistan’s rapid unraveling is already raising grumbling about American credibility, deepening the wounds of the Trump yea...

BRUSSELS – Afghanistan’s rapid unraveling is already raising grumbling about American credibility, deepening the wounds of the Trump years, and reinforcing the idea that America’s support for its allies is not unlimited.

the TalibanAmerica’s meteoric advance comes at a time when many in Europe and Asia hoped President Biden would restore America’s steadfast presence in international affairs, especially as China and Russia gear up. to expand their influence. However, America’s retreat can only sow doubt.

“When Biden says ‘America is back,’ a lot of people will say, ‘Yes America is back home,'” said Francois Heisbourg, French defense analyst.

“Few will gang up on the United States to shut down a bankrupt company for good,” he said. “Most people would say it should have happened a long time ago.”

The United States is withdrawing from military engagements abroad since President Obama, he noted, and under President Trump, “we have had to prepare for what the United States is no longer prepared to take on. the burden of unlimited liability alliances ”.

This reluctance will now be felt all the more strongly in the countries at stake in the world, such as Taiwan, Ukraine, the Philippines and Indonesia, which can only please China and Russia, analysts suggest. .

“What made the United States strong, powerful and rich is that from 1918 to 1991 and beyond, everyone knew that we could count on the United States to defend and defend the free world,” said Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the British Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee. .

“The sudden withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years and so much investment in life and effort will see allies and potential allies around the world questioning whether they should choose between democracies and autocracies, and realize that some democracies no longer have the power to stay, ”he added.

In Asia, the American withdrawal and the impending collapse of the Afghan government were viewed with a mixture of resignation and apprehension.

“Most Asians have already taken this into account because it is a long process, not a shock,” said Susan L. Shirk, director of the 21st Century China Center at the University of California to San Diego.

The country expressing the most concern is China, which shares a short, remote border with Afghanistan, which under the Taliban served as a safe haven for Uyghur extremists in Xinjiang, China’s far western province.

China, which regularly criticizes the United States for acting as a global belligerent, has warned that a hasty American withdrawal could create instability in the region.

At the same time, China’s Foreign Ministry offered a public demonstration of support for the Taliban, holding two days of talks late last month with a delegation that included one of the founders of the movement, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.

The problem for America’s allies and others, however, is less “credibility,” a much-misused term, than the ability to follow through on commitments. And the world can seem a more lawless place, less understandable, said Jean-Marie Guéhenno, a former French and United Nations diplomat now at Columbia University.

“The military debacle of Afghanistan, coming after the diplomatic debacle of Syria, will make Western nations more inward-looking, cynical and nationalistic,” he said, “because they feel surrounded by a world they do not control, but continues to interfere. . ”

Yet Mr. Guéhenno said, Western democracies “must not adopt a doctrine of indifference to the distress of others.”

Afghanistan was never a particularly vital interest for Europe to begin with. NATO entered the war just 20 years ago to show solidarity with the United States after September 11.

But the suddenness of Afghanistan’s collapse is another reminder of what can happen when Europe outsources decisions to Washington.

NATO countries are letting the Americans take the lead in Afghanistan, even if they complain about a lack of consultation. For NATO, the mantra has always been “inside together, outside together”. Once President Biden decided to pull the plug, NATO troops also began to leave at high speed; there is little appetite for the return.

Europe’s main concerns are now a new flow of Afghan migrants and a new haven for terrorism. But for a long time, European terrorism has its roots closer to home, in North Africa and the Middle East and in internal disaffection.

The Biden administration has other problems and Europeans want Washington’s support on bigger issues like climate change, Russia and China, said Robin Niblett, director of Chatham House, the London research institute. .

“Biden will be affected by the lack of consultation with the allies and the reliance on a flawed strategy from Trump,” Mr. Niblett said. “But there is a lot more to American soft power from getting through the corona crisis and focusing on vaccines for the world, than by putting more effort into whether the Afghan government survives.”

The allies, especially Britain and Germany, were angry with the way the withdrawal was announced and viewed it as a done deal, so there will be residual damage, Mr Niblett said.

“But Europe will not give up on a Biden who believes in his allies on the big issues that matter,” he said, adding, “On these, Biden is heading in the right direction.”

The Europeans have failed to identify their own interests in Afghanistan, which focus on regional stability, energy supply and migration, said Ulrich Speck, senior researcher at the German Marshall Fund in Berlin. “Europeans ignore geopolitics at their peril,” he said.

For example, a new wave of migration could destabilize Turkey, which already hosts nearly 4 million Syrian refugees, Speck said. This, in turn, he added, could lead to further tensions with Greece and the rest of the European Union.

“The Europeans should not play the American role, but at least consult each other on what we could do, even to help Kabul,” he said.

Carl Bildt, the former Swedish prime minister, went further, urging the United States and Europe to reconsider the comprehensive withdrawal.

“I think the US, the EU and their allies should commit to maintaining a security force in Kabul until the Taliban agree to a ceasefire and a political solution,” he said. -he adds. he said in a Twitter post. “To just cut and flee is to approve a military solution dictated by the Taliban.”

But there seem to be few volunteers at this stage.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell Fontelles published A declaration Thursday evening, he called on the Taliban to immediately resume talks with the Afghan government in Qatar and to respect human rights. Echoing the State Department’s warnings, he said that “if power is seized by force and an Islamic emirate restored, the Taliban would face non-recognition, isolation, lack of international support.” .

But Europe has little influence. There are obvious concerns about the lifespan of the Afghan government, what will happen to women, girls, judges and the media under a new Taliban regime, and about a new wave of Afghan refugees.

Earlier this week, ministers from six countries – Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Greece and Denmark – called for continued deportations of Afghans whose asylum claims have been rejected.

But given the speed of the collapse, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and France have, for now, at least, stopped sending Afghans back to Afghanistan who do not meet the refugee criteria. .

Few expect a repeat of the 2015 migration crisis, when more than a million people sought asylum and the resulting chaos spurred far-right and populist politics. But a significant new flow from Afghanistan is likely to fuel domestic concerns, especially in Germany, which has elections next month.

Although the numbers are down, in 2020 Afghans were the second country of origin for asylum seekers arriving in the bloc, with some 50,000 applicants, the European Asylum Support Office said. Fifty-nine percent of requests from Afghans were accepted.

Some 1,200 Afghans have been returned so far this year, and only 200 of them have not returned voluntarily, EU officials told reporters on Tuesday. But they said that in recent months at least 400,000 Afghans have been internally displaced, a number likely to increase dramatically.

In Britain, which has a long history with Afghanistan and had the second highest death toll after the United States, there is more heartache and even anger.

Lord David Richards, defense chief from 2010 to 2013, criticized his government for acting so quickly to evacuate the British. He told BBC Newsnight that the evacuation “is a tacit and explicit admission of a dismal failure of geostrategy and the art of governing.”

He said he had hoped to hear “an explanation of why we are in this position and then an explanation of how they are going to avoid this disaster.” Instead, he said, there was just “an admission of failure and a desire to pull people out.”

He added: “I am almost ashamed that we are in this position.”

Steven Lee Myers and Monika Pronczuk contributed reporting.

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Newsrust - US Top News: The collapse of Afghanistan could deal a further blow to the credibility of the United States
The collapse of Afghanistan could deal a further blow to the credibility of the United States
Newsrust - US Top News
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