The most talked about topic in the world these days is what the fall of Kabul will mean for America and the West. Everyone agrees that this is a watershed moment. From my point of view, I considered it to be another milestone in a declining course in the West. But because it is good to keep an open mind, especially on such complex issues where an analysis is not far from a prophecy, I hear the counterargument.
Which is what? That US President Joe That Biden did the system’s dirty work. He inherited a superpower which is retreating on various fronts, that was embroiled in an unwinnable war that cost many billions of dollars each year. He knew that his decision would carry a political cost. But there was no other way to handle a deadlock that was not of his own making.
This view certainly accepts that tragic mistakes were made in the management of the disengagement from Afghanistan, which resulted in the images that tarnished America’s prestige. But there is also the counterargument. The operation to leave Kabul could never have been carried out according to a plan and in calm conditions, because as soon as it became known, the Afghan government would collapse in an hour.
Proponents of Biden’s policy attribute his tough decision to the adoption of a doctrine that began under Barack Obama and continued with Donald Trump. The US leadership considers that it is facing a fundamental threat, one key front – China. They understand that they do not have the resources and the luxury to spend strategic capital in Afghanistan, Syria or Libya.
After the end of the Cold War, the undisputed hegemony of the United States created the illusion that they could be involved on various fronts simply because they had the means and were not threatened by anyone. America was evolving into an “armed nongovernmental organization” that would be involved wherever there were genocides or human rights violations. This school of thought ended with Obama’s red line in Syria, which was never a real red line, and was buried under Trump, who, despite his big talk, used US power very sparingly.
So this is the counterargument. By departing from Afghanistan, Biden is focusing on the one front he believes he will face in the new cold war that is dawning. Furthermore, the optimists add, the US has gone through a cycle of fierce domestic strife and violence, which it eventually overcame.
The future will tell what role history has in store for the United States. There is no doubt that the issue is of paramount importance. First of all, because the West, without a dynamic and extroverted Washington, will enter the margins of a global political scene in which democracy will decline and chaos will thrive, while Europe will be watching from the sidelines. Secondly, because in Athens it has become a habit to see the problems with our unpredictable neighbor through the triangular “lens” of Greece-US-Turkey relations.
That is why we need to have a clear picture of the priorities, commitments and willingness of the US to get involved in our neighborhood if incidents occur, as they have many times in the last 60 years.