Events in Afghanistan continue to unfold with incredible speed, and the way the country's political map has changed at the end of last week has sometimes seemed incredible.
It should be noted that foreign, especially American, troops for many Afghans, not just the Taliban, were nothing more than occupiers, and the previous government, formed as a result of supposedly democratic elections, was perceived by many as a kind of "external government." And that's why they were ready to change it in advance.
These arguments are debatable, but the fact is that the Afghan government and its armed forces fell quickly and without resistance as soon as the US physical military presence in the country disappeared.
And although these shocking events take place thousands of kilometers from Kyiv, they also change the reality for our country.
The Taliban is not an example, but a lesson
Although the United States has spent billions in recent years to support the democratic process in Afghanistan, to finance government spending, to train government troops, and to equip them with modern high-precision weapons, they have proved to be a "colossus on clay feet."
Some did not want to defend the newly built state at all, some of the military and government officials did not believe in victory and preferred agreements with the Taliban, even in violation of the values they had so far declared.
As a result, the Taliban simply took power - city after city, region by region, without fighting; and the fall of Kabul took place as quickly as no one expected.
Moreover, the Taliban, having returned the country under its control almost without a fight, has given itself international legitimacy. Now the Taliban can say: the previous government itself gave us power, we are supported by the whole country.
Some in Ukraine, thrilled by the success, even spoke of the need to "study the Taliban experience" to return Crimea and Donbas.
It should be noted that these appeals are extremely unacceptable.
It is inadmissible for a civilized state to compare its actions with the tactics of an organization that the world considers terrorist. And for European Ukraine, moreover, it is not an option to focus on the tactics of the organization, whose ideology and actions are based on human rights violations.
At the same time, there are indeed lessons that Ukraine needs to learn from Afghan history.
They were mentioned by US President Joe Biden in his address to the people on Tuesday night. Even though the word "Ukraine" was never mentioned in it.
European Truth described in detail how the United States was held hostage by its own mistakes in a 20-year Afghan campaign that cost US taxpayers a truly cosmic sum of more than $ 1 trillion (see Biden's Afghanistan Problem).
Joe Biden, by the way, admitted these mistakes in his speech.
But the conclusions that the United States has already drawn from them may not be to the liking of some government officials in Ukraine. Although if Kyiv takes into account the new reality, it gives our state much more advantages and potential advantages.
Democracy cannot be built by force
That seems to have been the main lesson Washington has learned from its 20-year Afghan campaign.
And although Biden himself does not specifically acknowledge this mistake and this change, his speech clearly demonstrates the shift in US approaches. For decades, the United States has maintained the image of a kind of "world policeman" and a center that promotes democracy in the world, and this has been a traditional reason for criticism of Washington by undemocratic ruling regimes.
Following the military operation in Afghanistan, which aimed to suppress al-Qaeda through its involvement in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the United States has made considerable efforts to build democracy in the country, which, with its military presence and support, has been reduced to zero. the same - with generous financial support.
Holding elections that are as inclusive as possible, despite the ongoing military operation; establishing democratic rules of the game for the government and parliamentary forces; the creation and financial support of free media and other necessary features of effective democracy - all this was. Although, admittedly, Washington tried not to interfere in the course of these processes, in the election results, etc. (and this gave him every reason to deny the accusation that he acted as an occupation administration, because the government was elected and determined by Afghan citizens!)
Now Biden says otherwise.
"Our mission in Afghanistan was not about building a state ... I have argued for many years that our mission should be focused on the fight against terrorism, not on fighting insurgents or state-building," he said.
But even he admits that he tried to persuade the Afghan leadership to return to democracy.
This includes corruption in the government.
This is a problem that Biden puts at the forefront of talks with all countries, of which both the current and previous Ukrainian presidents are well aware. After all, even in civil war-torn Afghanistan, Biden (not without reason) calls long-standing and entrenched corruption, along with the government's unwillingness to build an effective democracy, one of the main reasons for the fall of Afghan power.
"We had very frank talks with President Ghana and Prime Minister Abdullah at the White House in June, and a phone call from Ghana in July. We talked about how Afghanistan should prepare to resist the civil war, get rid of government corruption. We talked a lot. about the need for Afghan leaders to unite politically. But they have failed to do anything about it, "he said.
This is the first "Afghan lesson" for Ukraine.
The United States is becoming less and less inclined to support other states in building democracy if they do not see reciprocity on the part of that state's government. Biden sees no point in helping governments that do not want to change their own country. And the criterion for fighting corruption is now becoming almost the main factor in assessing this desire.
"I will not repeat the mistakes of the United States in the past - to stay and fight indefinitely in a conflict that is not in the national interests of the United States ... or to try to rebuild another country through the endless deployment of the US contingent," Biden said.
Military aid - only to those who are fighting
Joe Biden's signal was even clearer as to why he thought it was the right step to end military support for Afghanistan. For Ukraine, which is struggling to increase US defense support, this signal is really important.
In his speech, Biden repeatedly and quite emotionally emphasized: in the future, the United States does not consider it possible to fight for someone's nation if the nation itself does not show struggle. This is exactly what happened in Afghanistan last week.
"Political leaders surrendered and fled the country. The military was not just defeated, they sometimes did not even try to fight!" He resented.
"We spent more than a trillion dollars. We trained and equipped about 300,000 Afghan forces, gave them everything they needed, paid them salaries, supported their air force - which the Taliban did not have. We gave them every chance to determine their future. But it was not enough. what we could not give them is the desire to fight for this future. "
And this is another conclusion and consequence for Ukraine.
This time it is extremely positive.
Unlike the Afghan mercenaries, built with a clear lack of motivation and no understanding of the army's mission, the Ukrainian army is very different.
We have proved in practice the will and ability to fight the aggressor. To fight for the democratic path of the state. Defend your choice. Fight an enemy whose army is much stronger. Therefore, Ukraine can and should use these arguments to explain to its American partners that investing in our army is in the interests of the United States and will not be a multibillion-dollar expenditure on air, as has already happened with Afghanistan.
And Kyiv should explain this to its partners and use this comparison on every occasion. Realizing, however, that without fulfilling the first point - that before building a democratic state, this advantage is practically leveled.
What awaits Afghanistan now in terms of American support? What should pro-Western activists expect?
Biden's speech does not give much cause for optimism, and this is the third lesson for us.
The US President, of course, stressed that he continues to be a supporter of human rights, including in Afghanistan, but the tools for this will be fundamentally different, in particular in terms of effectiveness.
"We will continue to support the Afghan people. Our diplomacy, international influence and humanitarian aid will be the driving force. We will continue to work through regional diplomacy to prevent violence and instability. We will continue to uphold the fundamental rights of the Afghan people, including women and girls. as we do around the world. "
Yes, these are important and sometimes even effective tools, but under the Taliban, their effectiveness is limited. But it seems that the United States is really tired of being a "world policeman."
The US withdrawal from Afghanistan has opened a new era, the rules of which are just being formed. But we need to be aware of these changes now.
Author: Sergey Sidorenko,
editor of "European Truth"