Trapped by US great power politics

US President Joe Biden has denied any responsibility for the debacle in Afghanistan. Behind this is a new US great power policy that cares little for the interests of its allies. They are now trapped.

The allies, above all Germany, had believed that Afghanistan was about “nation building” – building bridges, schools and democratic institutions, almost like in Germany after the fall of the Nazi regime.

But for the USA it was about something else. They wanted to destroy Al Qaeda’s power base to avenge 9/11 and make a repeat impossible. Biden planned the withdrawal of US troops already under Obama.

Now he has achieved his goal and defends it vehemently. The original goal of the US mission, the eradication of al-Qaida, has been achieved, he declared. Also bin Laden – the “Public Enemy” of the USA – had been killed.

The US president stressed that the aim of the operation had never been to create a united democracy. This is the crux of the matter. Those US allies who believed otherwise were deluding themselves and their citizens.

Germany in particular believed in the fairy tale of “nation building”. Other EU countries like France or the Netherlands took a more sober view of the situation and withdrew from Afghanistan years ago.

But now they too are trapped. Because diplomats, civilian staff and local forces have remained – and now have to be withdrawn in dire need. Without US help, the European Union is not even able to do this.

But even worse than the logistical trap is the strategic one. The European Union has made itself a prisoner of the new US great power policy, which really only has one goal: to keep China in check.

S. Biscop of the Belgian think tank Egmond writes:

If anything, abandoning Afghanistan puts the US in a stronger position to engage in great power politics, for it ends a drain on resources for what actually was but a strategic distraction. At the same time, Russia and China have to worry a lot more about potential spill-over of instability now that US and NATO troops are gone (rather than immediately reaping opportunities in what will likely remain a very volatile country).

Afghanistan: The End of a Strategic Distraction

To achieve this goal, Biden is prepared to make many, even great, sacrifices. First, he dropped opposition to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline – and (at least subjectively) betrayed the interests of the Ukrainians and Eastern Europeans.
No consideration for the allies

Now he is leaving Afghanistan to its fate – without regard for those Afghans who believed in Western values and freedoms, and without regard for the allies, who are embarrassing themselves in their helplessness before the eyes of the world public.

But the EU and Nato are still not ready to face the bitter reality. NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg speaks of “progress” and “prosperity and democracy” in Afghanistan.

When asked, he is not even prepared to name those responsible for the debacle. Nato has also allowed itself to be led into a trap by the USA – but Stoltenberg cannot or will not admit this…

Translated with (free version) The original post (in German) is here