My answer to a question from Sputnik on Biden’s departure date from Afghanistan.
(Published here. I’m constantly fascinated by this “former diplomat stuff”. Yes I was a diplomat at the Canadian Embassy in Moscow from 1993 to 1996. That amounts to about 10 percent of my career. I held the rank of Counsellor which is a medium-senior rank. I was not the only one at that rank among the 50 or so Canadians there. I was never Charge d’Affaires which is the term for someone standing in in the absence of the Ambassador. And it is highly unlikely, as someone seconded to the Embassy from another Department (National Defence in my case), that I ever would have been. At the rate Sputnik retroactively promotes me — and I have many times asked them not to — I will soon be the longest-serving and most senior Ambassador in Canadian, or Galactic history. I much prefer “Former Analyst” or something like that.)
Well, the first fact is that Taliban has won. The second is that Taliban is not al Qaeda. It’s an Afghan phenomenon that has been radicalised thanks to 40 years of war.
Moscow and Beijing would probably have been happier with the Americans soaking up any jihadist hostility but they knew this was coming and are prepared. There’s a market for reconstruction there and they, especially China, will be able to take advantage of it.
For me the question is what happens between the Trump departure date and the Biden date: that’s about six months in which Washington can decide that the time is not quite yet right to leave or try and persuade NATO allies to stay. I would expect Taliban to hasten their departure; as we see in Iraq, US/NATO forces have supply lines that can easily be attacked.
It’s clearly a defeat for the US, whatever pitiful attempts are made to spin it in Washington: everyone knows that, once again, the Afghans have seen off a mighty empire. Baghdad, Damascus and Tehran will be heartened.