Today Afghanistan fell to the Taliban. The people of Afghanistan were betrayed by their government, their army and, yes, the West. Tens of thousands of young men and women from the western world sacrificed their blood, sweat, and youth for the people of this strange nation colloquially known as the graveyard of empires. Yet, in the end, their sacrifices were thrown away by an over-hasty western withdrawal and the stunning collapse of the Afgan National Army.
On a personal level, I was surprised by my reaction to the news of Kabul's fall. I was surfing Reddit before I went to sleep and was stunned by a post from a resident of Kabul noting that they had seen the Taliban enter Kabul and that the government had fallen. I am not sure why it affected me so; after all, I had never served there. Yet, I felt a sense of loss and shame.
Loss for the wasted years, for my friend's wasted sacrifices and for a troubled people whose freedom has once again been snuffed out. Shame for another western military debacle, shame for another western failure and shame at the abandonment of our friends and allies.
Time will tell if the Taliban choose a moderate path now that they have returned to power. If they opt for reconciliation or revenge and if they plunge Afghanistan into a new dark age or allow twinklings of light to continue. In the end, though, it is up to the people of Afghanistan to decide on their future.
The West may be culpable in their fall, yet it was the Afgan army that abandoned the field, Afghani men who surrendered rather than fight and Afgan government officials that surrendered their cities without a fight. In a way, this is a future that the Afghani's have chosen for themselves, and it will be them who must shape it going forward.
The open question now is what will the foreign jihadi's do now that their holy war has been successful? Will they once more turn their arms to the West and the 'great satan' America? Or will they hear the cries of their coreligionists in neighbouring Xinjiang and bring their jihad to the door of the Dragon?
Only the future will tell. But, one thing is sure today, the lights of freedom are going out once more across Afghanistan. Goodnight Afghanistan, may your night be short and the dawn swift.
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