Afghanistan repudiates liberal interventionism

Toby Lipatti-Mesme
4 min readAug 16, 2021

The disastrous end to this conflict shows that the west meddling in international affairs in such an aggressive manner is doomed to failure.

Get the top minds in the American national security establishment together and I’ll show you a room of some of the most deluded zealots you’ll ever meet. Time and time again these people are paraded out as the pragmatic experts when it comes to foreign affairs and America’s role in the world, and time and time again they fail in all their objectives, display fervent hypocrisy in a number of ways, all while making whatever situation they pledged to be in the business of fixing, far far worse.

The war in Afghanistan was a cash cow, bringing in billions for arms contractors and US companies, often companies that had a record of selling weapons to both sides of the thing. This was never a moral crusade, it was sold as a moral crusade by the Bush administration at the time, but it was never out of any real concern for the egregious human rights abuses under the Taliban, or indeed for the supposed threat of global jihad that Bush’s acolytes spent so much time selling to the American public as justification for invasion of both Afghanistan and Iraq. No, it was about “US strategic interests” in other words, profits, and the installation of regimes that would toe the US’s line when it came to foreign policy.

People will automatically respond to this saying, but the Taliban are clearly worse on human rights by a long way than the Afghan government we’ve just seen toppled. This is true, but the US doesn’t prefer one over the other for that reason; if the Taliban was on board with obeying the US when it came to foreign policy, they’d be totally fine with them running the country. We know this because in places such as Saudi Arabia you have brutal regimes in place that enjoy US backing and friendship because they follow their lead on the international stage. So whenever starry eyed neocons tell you this is about “values”, feel free to laugh in their face, since a cursory look at the evidence for nothing more than 5 minutes shows the people running these operations have never seen it that way.

No one is being held account for the disaster that has ensued, and the reason for that is if we dig deep enough the whole house of cards that propped up this charade in the first place collapses like a house of cards. Where’s Tony Blair, who enjoys pontificating on the issues of the day but the press won’t doorstep him for this? The same press that would doorstep Jeremy Corbyn tomorrow if he tweeted one thing remotely over any perceived line in political discourse. Where’s George Bush? The same Bush who has been rehabilitated in the age of Trump by the US establishment as some sort of cuddly grandfather figure that was a hallmark of a saner era, rather than a power crazed, mass murdering zealot who should have been pulled up and tried in The Hague for all he did.

To those arguing we should have stayed in Afghanistan longer, I say, for what? These last few days have shown the government the US imposed on the region was incapable of sustaining itself; the Soviet backed government at least lasted a few years, this one lasted a few hours. This was the latest hammering of a nail in the coffin of the liberal interventionism as a force for good philosophy: when the west does this it doesn’t work and people suffer even more in the long run, at the cost of $2 trillion cumulatively over 20 years, and so many lives of young, often working class folks, all sent to fight an endless and futile war, for nothing. The public have rightfully had enough of this in the US, and President Biden will probably weather this more steadily than the pundits think for that very reason.

The US has no leg to stand on when it comes to these things. Precious iterations of what would eventually morph into the Taliban were praised as brave freedom fighters against Soviet tyranny by Ronald Reagan, armed, backed and funded by the US government. This is all in the public domain! Do your own research on it all if you don’t believe me. These sort of things are never uttered in the mainstream media and glossed out of the major accounts of US political history, but the information is all there, and when you put it together the hypocrisy of the US going in to “stop the Taliban” is obscene.

This is a sad day for the people of Afghanistan. 20 years of imperialistic folly has failed to held them, as it always was going to. And alongside that you now have the Taliban, a backwards and brutal organisation, taking charge of the ship of state. History shows us the answer to this is NOT interventionism, interventionism got us here, 20 years and in 56 hours this was how long it took to undo! National building doesn’t work. All that now can be done is making aid contingent on certain core human rights demands, implementing a mass programme of unconditional refugee acceptance (since we, collectively, who went in originally, hold responsibility here), an attempt to stabilise relations with the aid of the international community (including Russia and China), not an Iran style ramping up that makes people in the country suffer far more, and an effort to keep those who still believe we should be doing these sort of it interventions or who still view the world that way as far away from foreign policy making as possible, for as long as possible.



Toby Lipatti-Mesme

Insightful and innovative UK journalism and commentary, from Toby Lipatti-Mesme.