Those stuck in the mud of history believe in the Spanish proverb: “The more the world changes, the more it remains the same.” But geopolitics is run by Murphy’s Law: “If anything can go wrong will go wrong.”
So, for those still stuck in classical hypotheses, Afghanistan is a Vietnam-type ‘debacle’ for America and a victory for China and Pakistan!
Now let us consider the following:
On December 25, 2008, Mark Landler’s piece The New York Times, titled “Chinese Savings Helped Inflate American Bubble”, unfolded the roots of the global economic crisis.
China had parked $ 1 trillion in US Treasury bonds, exports, investments, etc, which it nearly threatened to withdraw to bring America to its knees….In other words, China was trying to ‘financially colonize’ America, something no other country, not even USSR, had done!
Suddenly woken up from dogmatic slumber, Washington was alarmed with the Dragon’s torpedo. Its “Deep State”, apparently, worked on how to counter China during the Obama years (2009-16), and through the Donald Trump presidency (2017-2020).
By that time, China had hurriedly debt-trapped some of those 60-plus countries that had signed up for its ultra-ambitious, $ 200 billion Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) across Asia, Africa, and Europe. This included the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that would have given direct access to Beijing into the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf. A broke Islamabad was almost a satellite client of Beijing that had, ironically, sabotaged Islam systematically across the People’s Republic of China, particularly in the Uyghur Muslim-dominated Xinjiang province bordering Afghanistan.
As the American strategy unfolded, it became clearer that it aimed to checkmate China in Afghanistan itself, where it had earlier halted the Soviet Union on a similar quest for warm water ports in the Arabian Sea. An atheist China, like Communist Russia, could be vanquished in the monotheist Islamic world, as it were.
There were two obstacles, however: the Israel-Arab quagmire and the Taliban conundrum.
The Trump administration succeeded in bringing on board Israel, the UAE (presumably, therefore, the Saudis as well), and Bahrain to sign the “Abraham Accords” in Washington in September 2019. Also, the Saudi-Israel relationship improved with then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s not-too-secret and well-publicized air dash to a Saudi town.
The Trump Administration’s next step was Afghanistan where it sought to replant the Taliban as a borderless militia to destabilize not only Pakistan’s Baluchistan and the proposed “Greater Pashtunistan”, but also Tajikistan and Uzbekistan whose Islamic spill-over to Xinjiang was expected. In other words, an Islamic insurgency across Central Asia aiming to liberate Xinjiang from China.
US representative Zalmay Khalilzad, an Afghan-American diplomat, led the US delegation to several rounds of talks with the Taliban leaders in Doha, Qatar. They finally signed an agreement on February 29, 2020, securing the Islamic militia’s guarantee to protect America and its allies’ interests in Afghanistan. In return, the US promised to withdraw its forces and non-diplomatic staff from Afghanistan completely in 14 months—that is by the end of May 2021.
Here is a link to this agreement:
The US-Taliban agreement repeatedly clarified that “the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which is not recognized by the United States as a state and is known as the Taliban group”. While it sought to assure the Afghanistan government it supported that it still remained the legitimate one, it also assured the Taliban that “the US will request the recognition and endorsement of the United Nations Security Council for this agreement”–with a non-state actor designated as a terrorist outfit by the Council itself!
Clearly, if the agreement collapsed, the US had an escape route: it could always claim it had not recognized the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan!
It was now China’s turn to help America!
Twelve days after this agreement, the WHO declared Covid-19 as a pandemic (March 11, 2020). Between March 16 and 30, 2020, Trump used the words “Chinese virus” more than 20 times, nailing the phrase in the global media that Beijing was ‘responsible for the outbreak of the pandemic. By resisting the WHO’s attempts to go to the bottom of the truth, China only heightened suspicion, at the risk of becoming the global pariah.
That was when everything that could go wrong, did go wrong with China.
And the real geopolitical game began…
(To be continued)