By Wu Liming
On August 15, the Taliban entered Afghanistan’s capital Kabul and began to negotiate on a “peaceful transfer of power” with the Afghan government. At the same time, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani “fled” abroad. Almost overnight, the situation in Afghanistan changed dramatically. The media of some Western powers had to lament their countries’ failure in Afghanistan as an “end game.”
Many still remember that back in the 1970s, when the US withdrew unwillingly from the mire of the Vietnam War that lasted for 20 years, the forces of the Communist Party of Vietnam quickly liberated Saigon, and the South Vietnamese government supported by the US soon collapsed.
What is happening in Afghanistan is reminiscent of the “fall of Saigon,” except that the fall of Kabul was much faster than many had imagined. In particular, the US, which dominated Afghanistan in the past two decades, used “misjudgment of the situation” as the pretext for its failure in the Asian country.
The “fall of Kabul” marked the failure of the US in the lengthy war. Over the past 20 years, more than 2,000 American soldiers have been killed and tens of thousands injured on the battlefield of Afghanistan, and the war cost the US more than US$ 2 trillion. For the US, the Afghanistan war is like a bottomless pit for its investment, so it’s eager to get rid of this burden.
The “fall of Kabul” indicates the collapse of the US’ international image and reputation. After 20 years of fruitless effort, its NATO allies followed the US to join the Afghanistan war, to which they contributed funds, weapons and troops but ended up with a failure. This once again proves that serving as “sidekicks” of the US won’t meet a good end.
The US may withdraw from Afghanistan, but it left infinite pain for the Afghan people. In the past 20 years, more than 30,000 civilians in Afghanistan were killed or bombed by the US troops or died in the war-torn chaos caused by the US, more than 60,000 injured, and about 11 million became refugees. Facts repeatedly show that the US is the biggest factor for unrest globally. Its hegemonic policy that “seeks supremacy at the risk of failing the world” has resulted in countless human tragedies.
The “fall of Kabul” marked a turning point of US hegemony towards decline. As we all know, after the end of the Cold War, the US became the world’s only superpower, giving the rise to the theory of the “end of history.” Tempted by the gains it earned from bombing Yugoslavia at the end of the 20th century, the US launched the Afghanistan war and the Iraq war at the turn of the 21st century, in an attempt to expand its hegemony. However, the evolution of history has its own law. It is destined that belligerence and hegemony wouldn’t last long.
OnDecember of 2010, the US-based magazine The Nation published an article titled “The Decline and Fall of the American Empire,” which noted that the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 heralded the decline of America, which turned out to be prescient.
Later, impacted by multiple challenges such as the global financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, the decline of US hegemony has been an indisputable fact. Its failure in Afghanistan is just another point in the “downward spiral” of US hegemony.