Like a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar, U.S. military forces shut off the electricity and sneaked out of Bagram Airfield in the middle of the night Thursday. Moreover, they did not bother to tell the new Afghan military commander they were leaving. He discovered the departure two hours after it was complete.
Once word got out, looters entered the compound occupied by joint U.S. forces for 20 years and took virtually everything that was not nailed down. They stole laptops, stereos and basketballs before being evicted, according to Afghan military officials.
Unlike Vietnam, where a peace deal of sorts was in place before U.S. forces abandoned the country to the communists, in Afghanistan the U.S. has simply quit and is going home. It can truly be said that, like the Russians a generation before, we have lost Afghanistan.
The damage done to the people of the Mideast nation, especially those who allied with the U.S., is disturbing.
The Biden administration has been shamed by member of both parties into taking care of thousands of interpreters who served the military in Afghanistan. The White House now says, after initial resistance, that it will relocate all of the interpreters out of the country while their entry visas to the U.S. are given top priority for processing.
Not so for the countless civilians who did business with U.S. troops and local military camps and bases. They will be left to fend for themselves, which like means they will be dead within six months unless they can sneak out of the country like the Air Force, Army and Marines did at Bagram.
Bagram’s new commander Gen. Mir Asadullah Kohistani said the U.S. left behind 3.5 million items at the massive facility, the size of a small city.
“When I say 3.5 million items, it is every small items, like every cell phone and landline, every door knob, every window in every barracks, every door in every barracks,” he said.
Small weapons and ammunition were also left behind, but departing troops took the big ticket items with them.
Afghan Army Sgt. Naematullah (many Afghans go by only one name) said: “In one night they lost all the good will of 20 years by leaving the way they did, in the night, without telling the Afghan soldiers who were outside patrolling the area.”
As of Monday, nearly all U.S. and NATO forces had left the country. A small contingent of 650 U.S. security forces will keep Kabul-Hamid Karzai International Airport open until opposition factions can reach a deal to protect it once the U.S. is completely gone.
Where does this leave Afghanistan?
Begging for international support, and the Kabul government is actively courting China to fill the void left by the U.S. departure.
China was quite vocal in condemning the U.S. and NATO to the government in Afghanistan for abandoning the nation as conditions deteriorate at an increasing rate. The Communists have also been actively working, through its “Belt and Road Initiative,” to help Afghanistan improve its infrastructure.
That trillion-dollar loan program has been used by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to build roads, bridges, airports and seaports throughout Africa, Asia and the Mideast. When the nations benefiting inevitably struggle to repay the loans, the CCP extends them or outright forgives them in exchange for control over local natural resources.
Talks between Afghanistan and the CCP focus on extending the China-Pakistan Corridor, a $62 billion flagship economic program begun by the CCP. Such a broadening of the initiative would build roads, railways and bridges in Afghanistan while lengthening petroleum pipelines to serve northwestern Afghanistan.
While critics of the U.S. withdrawal have repeatedly warned it will give rise to more Islamic terrorism, the potential for a peaceful takeover of the Asian Middle East seems a far more likely scenario now. The CCP may be able to succeed by providing an economic bonanza to the region rather than more bullets and bombs, the chief U.S. and Russian imports since 1980.
Sadly, the U.S. had the opportunity to achieve the exact same goal, minus the communism, when Russia abandoned Afghanistan.
When the Russians invaded Afghanistan, hoping to establish it as a Soviet satellite giving them access to the Indian Ocean, Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-TX) single-handedly whipped up support in Congress, the White House and at the Pentagon to arm and support the mujahedeen, the Afghan resistance led by Osama bin Laden.
Finding themselves in a quagmire, the Soviets slogged along for nine years before giving up and going home in 1989. Wilson immediately began lobbying for economic and infrastructure support equal to the military support given the victors.
No one wanted to hear it. The rest is history.
Afghanistan went from being our best ally in the far Mideast to being our worst enemy. Bin Laden formed al-Qaeda, vowing to make the U.S. pay for its two-faced diplomacy. The result was the 1993 bombing at the World Trade Center and the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and the downed airliner in Shanksville, Pennsylvania which was likely going to target either the U.S. Capitol or the White House before passengers retook the plane.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, ridiculed the U.S. this past Saturday over its handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal, calling Americans “the origin of problems in Afghanistan.” Wang argued, the U.S. “should be responsible for making sure the transition in the country will be stable. The U.S. cannot evade responsibility, and cannot cause instability or war by withdrawing troops.”
“As friendly neighbors that share the flow of mountain ranges and rivers, China is determined to support the peaceful transition in Afghanistan,” he continued, going on to say that the U.S. was not a “defender” of the Afghan people.
The relatively brief history of U.S. and Afghanistan would seem to give credence to his words. Apparently, Joe Biden agrees.
Now China appears poised to win Afghanistan peaceably, to the detriment of all of Asia, the Mideast and the free world. What the CCP brings to the 10-40 window of the northern hemisphere will be far worse than the terrorist activities that up to now were those countries’ chief exports.
“Mike Nichols is a conservative, a patriot, U.S. Army veteran, behavioral therapist, political enthusiast, sports fan and writer living with his beautiful wife Liz in the Heartland. He has a regular blog at https://mikenichols.substack.com and a Facebook presence at https://www.facebook.com/AmericasConservativeVoice.Substack.”