Yesterday, Taliban fighters moved into the Afghanistan capital of Kabul as the Afghan government fell, American personnel continued to withdraw, and Afghans who either worked for the government or the Americans tried to flee. The situation is currently chaotic as Taliban soldiers establish control over the capital city of 4.435 million at the same time Americans are bringing in more troops to completing their evacuation. But the underlying reality is that the Taliban will take control and the Americans will leave.
And here are some thoughts about that.
The Forever War Keeps Going Without Us. The Taliban had taken control of half the country by 2020 and completed their second conquest of Afghanistan just this weekend. It was all very quick leading to a question of whether the Taliban will be able to hold the country as easily as they’ve conquered. My guess is that such won’t be the case. Warlord figures were already starting to mobilize local and regional militias in April and I suspect that the civil war will start back up on a different basis with the Americans and the democratically-elected government both gone.
Revolution of Women Going Underground Again. Before I retired, I taught courses on Global Popular Culture for 6 years and became convinced that a global revolution in feminism was one of the profound cultural developments of the Post-WWII era. In her Atlantic article on the catastrophe about to befall Afghan women under renewed Taliban rule, Lynsey Addario writes in detail about the resistance of Afghan women to the first round of Taliban rule and their subsequent work in institution building under the post 9-11 American sponsored government. According to Addario:
“I photographed women attending schools, graduating from universities, training as surgeons, delivering babies, working as midwives, running for Parliament and serving in government, driving, training to be police officers, acting in films, working—as journalists, translators, television presenters, for international organizations. Many of them were dealing with the impossible balancing act of working outside the home while raising children; of being a wife, a mother, a sister, or a daughter in a place where women were cracking glass ceilings daily, and often at great peril.”
Much of this way of living, working, and institution working was epoch-making for Afghan women and much of it will have to return to the underground under renewed Taliban rule.
Where to America? Robin Wright writes in The New Yorker that America’s standing in the world is “profoundly weakened.” But she’s on the wrong track. What threatens American standing in the world and global stability more generally is the chronic domestic instability created by the nihilism of GOP politicians and insurrectionary activism of white nationalist zealots. Compared to that, the humiliation in Afghanistan is a drop in the bucket.