Afghanistan - why is the Taliban takeover a surprise?

I am no expert, but you don’t have to be to figure that as soon as the thousands of foreign troops pulled out of Afghanistan the Taliban would just take over the country again.
What on earth did all the so-called experts think was going to happen?
I am stunned that governments have been “caught by surprise”.

I do feel sorry for the families who have lost members in the struggle all to have it thrown away but frankly I think Afghanistan should be left to its own devices & if the population tolerate the Taliban then that is their choice. If they don’t want the Taliban then they can do something about it themselves.

North Korea is isolated & the same protocols could be applied here.

I’m sure that I will now be told about the oppression of women & children but I would rather hear about solutions.

It’s not as simple as that, the Taliban have been sheltering countless terrorist groups that are now free to wreak havoc around the world using Afghanistan as a safe base and the country itself will become another strict Islamic state with dire consequences for those that worked for and helped the Allies.

Rory Stewart said that a small allied force had been in place in recent years and there had been few casualties holding back the Taliban. Rory Stewart: Afghanistan is a betrayal and catastrophic failure - BBC News
Afghanistan 'heading for civil war' says Defence Secretary - BBC News

People might be 'surprised by the speed of events, but the collapse was inevitable once Trump promised US withdrawal from Afghanistan during his pre-election campaign. His timetable was always unrealistically short, but Biden, who has been pro-withdrawal for over decade also erred by choosing an early withdrawal deadline date for symbolic domestic reasons (9/11 20th anniversary). In recent weeks I’ve read many accounts in the international press who criticised him for withdrawing before the end of the 2021 ‘fighting season’ which only lasts a few months before the onset of winter. The argument being that if the withdrawal had begun gradually later this year, there would have been more time for the various military and diplomatic forces to prepare for a resumption of hostilities in the Spring of next year.

I think that Biden, like Trump before him viewed the US withdrawal from a long, expensive and probably unwinnable war as being a popular vote-winner/ and that’s probably the case. It’s obviously going to be very crap for many Afghanis, but neither the US government nor US voters will be too worried about that.

There’s a further equally immoral and similarly pragmatic argument that, apart from its considerable impact on the Afghan people, the Taliban’s reconquest of Afghanistan probably won’t directly impinge on the West. Even, if as seems likely Al-Quaida set up shop there, their sponsorship of international terrorism will possibly be confined (as it is now) to the Middle East and Africa where there are many weak or unstable states with large Muslim populations.

Lastly, there’s the issue of a sudden large increase in the number of Afghan refugees. Canada, as is often the case, seems to be more willing than most countries to offer refuge to those who have helped it. Doubtless, as usual the UK will um and ah until it’s too late. Their recent unexpected reversal of policy towards HK holders of UK passports was welcome, but begged the question why were HKer’s British passports re-categorised in the years prior to the former colony being handed back to China? I’ve some possibe answers, but that’s straying too far off topic!

I suspect the West has been getting Afghanistan wrong for the past 20 years.

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More like 150!

Correction 180!!


You’re not wrong there but I reckon recent history’s more important in the lead up to the current coup.

Good article, thanks!

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I wouldn’t disagree, but I’d also argue that imperialist foreign hubris (Western and Soviet)hubris has been a constant factor for the past couple of centuries. Meanwhile outside the cities, Afghanistan remains largely a mediaeval, tribal culture.

Even the Romans didn’t manage to control the region and that was using methods that no 21st century government, with the exception of the Chinese, would use these days.

I thought this went back even further to Alexander the Great’s invasion and a quick bit of research found this prescient book from 2005. It’s worth reading the blurb on the UC Press website

Have just bought a s/h hardback copy from a Berlin bookseller

Read a piece in today’s Sunday Times by Rod Liddle, a writer I have absolutely no time for…right wing rabid Brexiteer, however in this article he makes some good points…not least American statehood building has consistently failed. Time and time again they think it’s all about having the fire power, but it reality its about political change and laying down foundations…something the Americans are amateurs at.

The UK needs to learn from this and not blindly to itself to America as a poodle clinging to the “Special Relationship” . Brexit future lesson?
The yanks pulled out leaving the UK government with no alternative, but the blame game will rightly start by those who lost loved ones and life changing injuries.
Whilst it won’t be aired in public…can’t upset a NATO ally …the armed forces and FCO will rightly be apoplectic and possibly the one small good will be great reticence before the UK goes off with another American sponsored military adventure,

And Kabul has fallen, and President gone. So, so sorry for the majority of the people in Afghanistan.


This humiliation of America will drive many middle of the road voters there unto the arms of Trump. They will flock to him to “make America great again”.
They will conveniently forget it was his policy to get out this year…they will lay the execution shambles of it at the feet of Biden.

Will it be seen as a humiliation or as a political promise to withdraw fulfilled?

Probably right despite the fact it was his bloody (literally) policy.

This makes interesting reading. It’s not all about the west, the US and the UK any more.

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Iran and Russia must be pissing themselves laughing at the moment.

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I feel very sorry for the people of Afghanistan. I understand why the US wanted to withdraw, but what a mammoth pig’s breakfast the withdrawal has been. Would it not have been possible to negotiate some safe territory around Kabul for a period as a condition of US troop withdrawal. One has to ask what has been the point of the last 20 years of involvement and were the lives lost and loss of limbs worth it?

Square root of feck all if you ask me.

It’s about time “The West” stopped pissing about in the middle East and let them get on with it. Not ideal but we’ve a long track record of simply making things worse.