Only a few months after the withdrawal of the international alliance and before the final withdrawal of the last US troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban are overrunning province after province and have now also conquered Kunduz.
How does that work?
We were on the ground as the international community for almost twenty years.
With up to 120,000 soldiers in the country.
Thousands of helpers who built roads, schools, bridges, hospitals, administrations and even mosques. Bringing a country out of the medieval times brought about by the Taliban. Gave people hope and work. Brought a little prosperity, women and girls were almost guaranteed safety and freedom.
Now that the Western aid workers and security forces have left, all this collapses almost overnight. Without resistance, one would think. It almost seems as if the Taliban are imitating Caesar in his actions: veni, vidi, vici!
Despite tens of thousands of trained Afghani soldiers and police, these enemies of humanity walk from town to town and take them over. Bringing back darkness, which is not to imply that ISAF has only spread light there. But that is another issue.
It should not be forgotten that the Afghans fighting alongside us have lost about 69,000 men during ISAF. Only in dead!
Spread over 20 years, Afghans talk about ... PEACE with such losses! And they used it. They built families.
Half of today's 30 million Afghans are under 18 years old, which shows how well the medical care created, the absence of famine and other achievements have worked in the last 20 years.
It also shows what potential there is for the Taliban to use: tens of thousands of young people ready for indoctrination who were increasingly left without prospects. For the withdrawal of the international community quickly caused the system dependent on it to collapse.
In the countryside and in the mountains, Afghans learn to read and perhaps also to write in the Koran school. Here, the Taliban and their agitators were never absent.
How can one be so stupid, the thinking person now asks. - The answer is simple: we were even more stupid!
We have never understood what the Afghan understands by war. An enemy is only defeated and really finished when there is nothing left to resist. AND, when the opinion of the victors can be read as fact in the history book of the losers.
Control question: What would have happened if, after the Third Reich, the occupying forces had continued to allow Nazi order castles in the countryside? Had strict Nazis been teachers in the schools, and the textbooks still preached the delights of the Aryan master race?
Gladly, combined with a little weapons training for children... for 20 years. What a liberal, right-thinking society we would have had in 1965, whose young people largely believe they have been exploited by the occupiers and have the divine right (providence!) to take their share.
So, we have never destroyed the Taliban, never really stopped their ideology spreading - and we have virtually bred them in the prisons. Because Taliban were imprisoned on the advice of the Western world. Not executed, as the Afghans demanded. Because they knew how to wage war there.
A short digression: whoever defeated the Afghans and how?
Alexander, who is revered in Afghanistan as the Iskandae, was such a man. It took him three years to conquer northern Afghanistan alone. He killed anyone who did not submit on sight. It is estimated between 300-500,000 people.
He built cities (Herat, Bagram and Kandahar) and made his Afghan confederates provincial princes and part of his army, which he led to further victories. For this, they still revere him today! For his foresight, for his vision and for his merciless consistency.
Then there were the Mongols. They proceeded in much the same way as Alexander, only they limited themselves to slaughtering the population without giving them anything in return. They plundered them. For this, the Afghans hate the Mongols until now. Mongol rule over Afghanistan is generally regarded and communicated as the worst period in Afghanistan's history.
The Russians came close to wiping out the Afghans. To spare troops and their soldiers, then also with poison gas and toy mines against the following generation.
The USA, inspired by Senator Charles Wilson, pumped money and weapons into the Afghan resistance. Supplied the fighters with STINGER missiles against aircraft and MILAN-defence missiles against armoured opponents. They did so until the Russians gave up.
But alone and on their own, the Afghans would have been beaten again. They suffered almost 1.2 million casualties, their birth rate fell below the death rate. Life expectancy was only less than 40 years!
But no one else managed to defeat the Afghans. Not at any time. Afghanistan was considered the grave of nations in the 18th century. Every attempt at conquest ended in military disaster.
But how do the Afghans wage war among themselves?
They kill all male opponents. No matter how old. Anyone found with a weapon in his hand is killed. Full stop. Prisoners are only taken for information. Then they are executed or exchanged for their comrades.
If these prisoners have committed war crimes, the method of execution can be varied. Deterrence is a legally credible concept in Afghanistan. Punishments are not Western pedagogically based, but serve both as the sole punishment for the perpetrator and as a lesson for others. As a visible lesson.
Hanging rapists upside down, for example, is normal. On all sides.
If the opponent should refuse to fight, then one threatens his family. Ruin them. In extremis, in the case of the really evil henchmen (from our point of view), the family is then executed. And the Taliban also belong to this honourable group of "modern people".
Every ISAF soldier knew that. And, of course, every Afghan who served with the security forces. While we "cared for" the Taliban and their friends and supporters according to Western standards, the families of our Afghan comrades were harassed and killed. Hence, the high rate of desertions. At the peak, this was up to 60% of the forces we trained. Depending on the region.
In the south and east, the strongholds of the Taliban, it was almost impossible to find any recruits at all. And those who did enlist were... not up to the standards of a soldier in terms of physical ability and ... intellect.
The latter is a problem. Many Afghans are mentally basic. Especially from poorer families, this often stems from a long-standing lack of protein and fat during childhood. Malnutrition has consequences. These consequences then also lead to the fact that they have hardly any opportunities as adults. On the labour market or with women.
Here, too, we come back full circle to the Taliban, who saw in such people useful and exploitable brothers who were recruited as martyrs for the cause. For example, as cannon fodder in assault attacks and as suicide bombers. In these cases, they were often triggered by remote control.
These groups of people are also the source of atrocities that have given the Taliban a not inconsiderable reputation as a terrorist organization. The deliberate and intentional marauding in occupied areas among their "enemies" is strategically deliberate and brought about. To intimidate the population and suppress any resistance to the Taliban.
In this way, they manage to occupy large areas with a few henchmen and keep them pacified to concentrate their core forces for selective and localized attack operations.
And they do this against government troops, who have to be present in the countryside to protect the civilian population.
This is not possible, however, and every police station and army post is inadequately defended. While the Taliban fought in a concentrated but localized manner, the police and army had to be everywhere.
Therefore, the government, unfortunately too late, withdrew its troops from the area to the important provincial capitals. Kunduz was one of them. Others of the 45 provincial capitals are completely meaningless. As insignificant as 80-85% of the Afghan territory as a whole.
Strategically decisive are only the ten most important and largest cities of Afghanistan and the border crossings to the neighbouring states, which are characterized by passable roads. That's not even a dozen crossings. Despite the size of the country.
The two passes are also important. The Salang Pass, which connects northern and southern Afghanistan, and the Khyber Pass, which connects Afghanistan with Pakistan/India. These are the most important transport points in the country.
The most important road is the so-called Afghan Ring Road, a road built around the centre of Afghanistan, which connects the important peripheral provinces to their neighbours in a ring.
The West developed and maintained this road, but never really controlled all parts of it. Especially at night, much of this ring road has always been Taliban territory.
The bottom line is that the West tried to fight a medieval and ancient warfare with modern weapons with a moral-ethical pedagogy, Christian way of thinking. Nice approach, but clearly unfavourable against such Islamist ways of thinking. In fact, it makes no sense at all.
Instead of verifying captured Taliban (supporters) with diagnostic tests and lie detectors and handing them over to Afghan courts for sentencing, which then tried these criminals according to Afghan law, we influenced the judiciary and stacked these people in prisons where they could further consolidate their ideology and radicalize themselves. Where they were then almost seen as martyrs by families and friends. Yes, unfortunately.
That is why "liberating" the prison has always been an important goal of the Taliban. The fighters won in this way are then taken to clean up the region, where they then settle their scores. In their own way, without prison sentences for opponents. Gladly also without justice.
Strangely enough, Western moralizers are never there when justice is celebrated there. There are pictures and videos on the net, but not in the West. In Islamic countries, however, such scenes are disseminated by the millions, accompanied by nice music and battle chants.
On FB, google and Twitter, of course, these are forbidden images. They could be disturbing. Touching Western souls. Offend gentle minds.
That's why so many soft-boiled and sheltered Westerners don't believe the kind of war that is really being celebrated here. Otherwise, you would find it on the net.
Nor did they understand the nature of the war, into which millions of Western soldiers were temporarily parked for over twenty years. Morally and legally, completely inadequately prepared and empowered for what would have been necessary to at least keep the Taliban in check.
Beating them was something the West was never capable of doing because it was never willing to embrace the Russian lessons of the conflict! Or to take a look at history. - Sic!
So, now, even air strikes by the US will be of no use. A land war is always decided on the ground. Without being able to control the bombed country on the ground, and without a clear strategy on how to destroy (not pat) the enemy, the effect is rather symbolic.
Even with area bombing with cluster bombs and napalm from swarms of B52s, as Vietnam has already shown.
The demand of a German conservative, whose name shall not be mentioned here, to go back to Afghanistan with troops is to be regarded as criminal. Without a clear strategy and empowerment to fight against this kind of war criminals, no soldier should ever be sent there again.
What is accepted there is merciless, if necessary also cruel, but consistent harshness with clear announcements. That is how the Taliban win against the population.
But this is also how you win against the Taliban.
You only have to make the population more afraid of following the Taliban than they manage to spread fear.
This is the only approach that can lead to success in Afghanistan. It can be called medieval to antique. It does not correspond to our ideas of warfare and is therefore not present in the minds of strategists. And, if they do, they bit their tongues than admit it.
You have to get the Afghans to act against the Taliban despite their fear. Make them realize that they lose EVERYTHING if they support or even tolerate the Taliban.
They have to understand that fleeing makes no sense. They won't be taken in anywhere and if they reach the promised lands they will only be trained to fight and then sent back.
Resistance groups in Afghanistan must be supported. Even with weapons that are banned elsewhere. Perhaps even outlawed.
Attacks by the Taliban abroad, against whomsoever, must be punished immediately and increased by a factor of 10. According to clearly communicated guidelines and processes.
One burnt church or desecrated temple results in the immediate destruction of ten mosques. Targets are clearly addressed 24 hours in advance by leaflet (on site).
Propaganda broadcasts on radio and TV are punished first with the destruction of the transmitters and then, if necessary, with the destruction of Afghanistan's entire electrical infrastructure.
The murder of women and girls is punished with the bombing of recognized Taliban positions (with napalm, for example) around the crime. Every time. Uncomment. The weapon used, and the target, must be symbolic of the crime being punished.
The British Air Force General Arthur Harris once said, when asked about the sensibility of area bombing of German cities, that one should try it first.
German war production reached its peak at the end of 1944. From that point of view, the idea of bombing weapons production failed. Only the nation was also running out of personnel, the workers. The petrol, important small parts (ball bearings) and saltpetre. In the end, out of food.
Afghanistan produces absolutely nothing relevant except drugs. Lapis mining could also be mentioned. But this can also be quickly limited. The two or three mines are quickly taken out of the equation.
Ergo, the destruction of the infrastructure is a blow to the Afghans that will be felt in the long term. For it is all they have.
And drug cultivation to finance the Taliban state is effortless to stop: chemically with defoliants.
All these possible examples clearly show how easily Taliban can and must be fought if they are to be defeated. This is also possible under international law, since international law explicitly allows for retaliation against crimes. Against individuals, against groups/factions, or even against the state itself.
The Taliban will take power again in Afghanistan. The important provincial capitals will gradually fall. Some provinces and areas will remain contested. As they were before 2001 and before the coalition invasion.
Women and girls will again be reduced to property. According to the Koran. Or whatever the Taliban want to read out of it. Despite all their protestations.
They have learned to live with Western influences and to use them. They even have their terminology: Taqīya. They tell the West what it wants to hear and carry on as before.
So, whoever wants to wage war in Afghanistan should consider all this. What he has to achieve should also be clear. And, how much all this contradicts our ideas of warfare if one wants to win or at least not lose so miserably again.
The devout Afghan also dies consciously and willingly for a possible life in paradise. The Western soldier rather does not. Another disadvantage, but one that is fateful.
In short: if you can't or don't want to swim, are afraid of water and perhaps also like to walk around in lead slippers, you should avoid going into water that is too deep. Neither driven nor voluntarily.
The example is basic and obvious. Why do some here believe that one can swim in the Olympics so equipped and empowered?
Just because you wear fancy swimming trunks and have perfectly fitting swimming goggles?
59 dead German soldiers. A few dozen, some of them severely wounded and war-disabled. Hundreds of severe PTSD victims. Thousands of lighter cases. Tens of thousands of families and relationships who have not survived it all. In Germany alone. A link to the community is here. (German)
Because nothing was understood and nothing was understood.
"Afghan solutions for Afghan problems", is a slogan that should finally be understood and applied.
Soldiers are not the vehicles for experiments.