Iraq as a botched precedent
I always thought from the start that the USA under George W Bush targeted Iraq when it should have targeted Iran first. Iraq could easily have followed thereafter. Accepting that Saddam Hussein was an evil tyrant, Iran was a greater evil and greater potential evil.
Whatever Saddam was, at the time he countered Iran. It wasn’t as if America didn’t have experience of the Ayatollah regime and its thugs or could not find justification for attacking Iran. Just think how different things would have been today, as the major part of the Iranian population were more western and advanced compared to all their neighbours.
Whilst the military campaign against Iraq with a relatively small force was military textbook, attacking Iraq first without any idea or planning what to do once Iraq was beaten and Saddam Hussein removed from power, was another monumental American mistake. Iraq, with a majority Shi’ite population was a vacuum Iran immediately began to fill - thanks to America.
Leaving Iraqi military arms depots unguarded and dismissing its military was also a strategic mistake. This opened the opportunity for Al Qaeda and terrorism in the region. Clearly the whole campaign and its repercussions were not thought through thoroughly.
Afghanistan - not that different from Iraq
Almost immediately, the well-meaning Americans lost focus and began the now often repeated error of trying to nation-build when they had very little understanding of the Arabs, their culture and in particular their religions, not to mention the looming danger of Iran.
Suddenly that whole part of the world has no American strategic base or ally. Just look at the map and see what America under Biden has given up.
As we now know only too well, Afghanistan has also turned out to be a disaster, an unnecessary disaster. Again it was George W Bush who got America into Afghanistan, but his going after Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden was more than justified. Pity it fell to his undeserving successor to have the kudos of being in the White House when bin Laden was finally found and killed.
In geographic terms, Afghanistan is in the absolute middle of nowhere, landlocked and difficult to access. To access Afghanistan, the USA needed Pakistan, a perfidious, completely untrustworthy and religiously Islamic fanatical ally in the extreme. To facilitate this, the USA paid Pakistan enormous amounts of money which the Pakistanis then used to finance the Taliban, who originally arose out of the madrassa of Pakistan, Islamic religious schools. Taliban means student, after their origins.
Biden, in making the decision to suddenly withdraw American troops from Afghanistan, was probably in his foggy mind trying to engender a response of approval as his term up until this time was filled with disaster after disaster. A deep desire for approval makes people do some truly stupid things.
Obviously no thought in the slightest was applied to the greater issues including the geopolitical issues and in spite of Afghanistan seeming to be in the middle of nowhere, it actually is not and is geographically strategically placed with regard to two major enemies of the United States, China and Iran. Whatever the circumstance, America was in Afghanistan and it was a fait accompli that no one questioned. See map:
Afghanistan’s strategic geographic position.
Armchair generals and maybe Iran may have assumed that the military threat to Iran comes from the geographic west, from across the Persian Gulf and Israel. As was the case with Singapore during WWII, Iran’s guns were probably facing west.
Iran has placed all it nuclear sites throughout situated towards its east side, avoiding its coastal western side. These nuclear sites would have been vulnerable to attacks from Afghanistan.
Just look at the map and see what America under Biden has given up. It was Donald Trump who originally wanted to exit from Afghanistan, but I am sure that he would have changed his mind given this obvious information. I am surprised no American general, security advisors or intelligence “expert” pointed this out. Maybe they did, but the “Commander-in-Chief” is Biden and he is a monumental fool and as we all know, seriously challenged in every way.
It would have been in America’s best interests to keep a small force in Afghanistan both in support of the Afghan government and military, apart from Afghanistan’s strategic Rare Earth minerals, because of its strategic position in relation to Iran and China. An American force plus its allies would probably have supported the Afghan army and prevented a Taliban takeover. India may be an American ally, but America has no bases there.
The incredulity this engenders is beyond comprehension.
Before Biden’s petulant decision, America only had a force of 2,500 in the country who were no longer involved in any fighting for eighteen months. We now know the enormity of the arms, ammunition, aircraft et al left behind in Biden’s haste to leave. Afghanistan would have been a strategic arms base in America’s geopolitical battle against Iran and China.
Suddenly that whole part of the world has no American strategic base or allies and has been abandoned to its enemies with enormous repercussions not only in that part of the world, but for every ally around the world. American reassurances must now, until a change of administration, be taken with a pinch of salt. Will Biden be asleep in his bunker when the next attack or crisis occurs? He has already been asleep at the wheel.
All this has now been gifted to Iran and China and again, apart from Biden’s possibly foggy thinking, maybe he was not so foggy, not just incredibly incompetent, just a man beholden and compromised to many. Whatever, this man and his surrounding handlers and party apparatchiks cannot be trusted.
There is a big however which indicates that Iran will not have it all their own way. As with the religious fanaticism of the rulers of Iran, which is Shi’ite, the fanatical Taliban and the majority of Afghanistan are Sunni, and therein lies the rub and the danger. The Taliban themselves have the ISIS and Al Qaeda to contend with plus a country filled with separate tribes and war lords.The 1,400 years of Islamic rivalry will continue.
David Hersch is Chairman of SAIPAC, the South African Israel Public Affairs Committee. Former chairman of the South African Zionist Federation (Cape Council) as well as a former national vice-chairman of the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF). He is also former member of the South Jewish Board of Deputies (Cape Council). Retired businessman and broadcaster.