The tragedy in the Hindu Kush demonstrates the need of prevention over intervention in the future.

US Troops Afghanistan
[US Army on the rooftop of US Embassy, Kabul,Afghanistan] 

NATO forces' combat presence in Afghanistan ends in humiliating disarray two decades after September 11, 2001. Without thought or a long-term strategy, the participating states bolted. The military-backed state-building effort has failed. The reasons for this are numerous, and they all lead to a troop retreat, which is more akin to an escape than a planned end to the deployment.

The alliance made a critical error in believing that other countries could be moulded according to the Western model without taking into consideration existing power and social institutions, as well as a country's history. Military organizations and organs are not prepared or trained to participate successfully in civil duties such as promoting national identity, forming political institutions, or implementing democratic accountability and separation of powers procedures. Stability is not the same as democracy; there may be stability even in the face of undemocratic administrations.

The institutional framework was too geared toward a centralized presidential administration, with the Afghan President's persona as the centerpiece. The need of ensuring a democratic division of powers was overlooked, as was the need to adequately develop subordinate levels such as province administrations and shuras (local councils), which serve as people's first point of contact.

A tiny political elite, former mujahideen, warlords, and criminals benefitted from a patronage system with mafia-like institutions. In recent years, the Afghan government's promises to enhance the battle against corruption and governance have remained empty promises.

The widely held belief that Afghans do not desire democracy misunderstands the mood in the nation and the dedication of Afghan human rights groups; what the people rejected was an imposed elite fake democracy in which their voices seemed to be ignored.

Agreement between USA and Taliban in Afghanistan 

The collapse of the regime was unavoidable as a result of the failed talks and hasty military departure. The Doha Agreement was negotiated exclusively between the United States and the Taliban, and was myopically launched by then-US President Trump in February 2020.

The Afghan government was not engaged, but was given the responsibility for the accords' repercussions. This completes the circle: the West's haphazard anti-terrorist campaign resulted in huge humanitarian and human rights implications, as well as a caliphate that they did not want to combat.

The West's persistent denial of reality and self-deception is exemplified by US Vice President Joe Biden's blame for the Taliban's takeover of power on NATO-trained security forces and the Afghan government, which was protected and brought to power by the US, and culminates in the labeling of the US evacuation mission as a "extraordinary success."

The army departure will have far-reaching and long-term implications for the Afghan people's humanitarian condition. Furthermore, anti-terrorism strategy has badly harmed the humanitarian system as a whole after September 11, 2001.

Humanitarian aid seen as an instrument in Afghanistan 

The humanitarian values of independence, neutrality, and impartiality have been under continual attack since then, as political decision-makers perceive humanitarian aid as a "tool" in the battle against terrorism. The distinction between military and humanitarian players is blurred as a result of this. The public perceives the latter as prejudiced, which severely restricts their maneuverability. Since September 11th, these inclinations have skyrocketed.

Military "relief operations" are always motivated by a military or geopolitical aim, and so are never impartial. Sanctions and anti-terror legislation have often limited the operation of civil humanitarian groups. Humanitarian assistance, on the other hand, must be able to realize its own potential for bringing about structural change. A persistent shift away from a reactive, military-dominated intervention logic toward non-military preventative measures and the strengthening of local civil society organizations is required for this.

The author Chris Hartmann works for the Terre des Hommes children's assistance organization as a humanitarian aid consultant and is the point of contact for the (now inactive) initiatives in Afghanistan.

[This article is translated from News from Frankfurter Rundschau]
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