The Trump-Biden surrender to the Taliban is a sorry repeat of the handing over of a free people in 1938 into the grasp of Nazi slaveholders, writes Prof. Madhav Nalapat
Among the tragedies of the 1939-45 war in Europe between the German armies commanded by Adolf Hitler and the powers opposing him was that it could have been avoided with ease. In common with most bullies, Hitler was a coward who moved only against those who were regarded as helpless or weak. Within German society, Hitler was encouraged in his psychotic obsession against the Jews and other victims by the lack of international blowback caused by the increasing frequency and aggression of his moves.
After the occupation of the Rhineland by a German army that would have folded up against French forces in a day, came the takeover of Czechoslovakia with the consent at the Munich conference involving Prime Ministers Neville Chamberlain and Eduard Daladier. The torching and loot of Jewish shops during Kristallnacht followed increasing and inhumane restrictions on this small but gifted community within the territory controlled by Hitler. None of this stopped a steady flow of high-profile supplicants from countries intent not on confronting but on appeasing Hitler.
In much the same way, even the tell-tale ministerial list given out by the Taliban dispensation in Kabul has only increased the flow of VIP visitors to Kabul and to Islamabad, the capital of the country whose military ( together with their patrons, the PLA) have several Taliban leaders on a leash. The manner in which the US and UK in particular have been supplicants to the Taliban dispensation has emboldened the Sino-Wahhabi alliance, increasing the risk that further adventures lie ahead.
Given the lack of hyphenation among policy circles within NATO between the actions of the Central Military Commission in Beijing and miscellaneous activities of the Wahhabi groups patronised by that institution, President Biden is not alone his error in believing that his surrender to the Taliban in Afghanistan has had no effect on his claimed is a focus on the PRC.
In a way, the handover of Afghanistan to the Taliban in August 2021 by Joe Biden and some of his Atlanticist friends bears comparison with the manner in which UK Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain facilitated the takeover of Czechoslovakia by Hitler in September 1938 . It was the craven acquiescence of both UK Premier Neville Chamberlain and French Prime Minister Eduard Daladier of France to the Czech tragedy that encouraged Adolf Hitler in his belief that there would not be a response from either power (much less the US) to the planned invasion and occupation of Poland.
The way in which President Biden, Prime Minister Johnson and Chancellor Merkel have grovelled before the Taliban (and by implication its Sino-Wahhabi patrons) has emboldened terror cells that have long been dormant in fear of massive retaliation. Hence the rash of operations such as that seen in New Zealand. Those who argued in favour of President Biden giving up US kinetic capabilities within Afghanistan to facilitate its handover to the Taliban wrongly saw the issue as separate from the broader range of matters of concern to US and allied security interests.
Now that the Taliban has unveiled its list of “acting” ministers, it does not appear to have been noticed that at least 21 among them argued against handing over Osama Bin Laden to the US after 9/11. Mullah Omar agreed with this view and replied to President Bush that Bin Laden was an “honoured guest” of the Taliban, and that a terror attack such as the planning and execution of the 9/11 terror attack in 2001 was not reason enough to deport him. To claim that such individuals represent a reformed Taliban is to indulge in delusion. Not that this characteristic has been missing from the policy of some major democracies.
When the legitimate government of Afghanistan, headed by Acting President Amrullah Saleh, has been facing the might of the Pakistan military, news of this external intervention is difficult to come by, at least in US media. It would appear that the habits of the ostrich are contagious. Several capitals vociferously looked askance at the manner in which the elected government of Myanmar was deposed by the military.
After a bout of Aung San Suu Kyi bashing caused by her refusal to permit a flood of Rohingyas to enter and settle in Myanmar in the manner that several chic Atlanticist NGOs were demanding, it has finally been accepted that Suu Kyi is the face not of repression but of democracy in her troubled country. The aftermath of what was termed at the time the “Arab Spring” in 2011 made clear that genuine salvation from dictatorship was not to be expected from emigre expatriates from these countries.
In Suu Kyi’s case, the undisputed leader of Myanmar refused to leave the country even when her British husband was on his deathbed, knowing that she would not be allowed back. Rather than live comfortably and safely overseas while her people suffered, Suu Kyi chose to remain amongst them, at an immense personal sacrifice. Small wonder that the people of Myanmar adore her. Amrullah Saleh fits into the same mould as the Nobel awardee, having opted to remain in Afghanistan while his boss (President Ashraf Ghani) escaped to the UAE, leaving behind a people in shock at the new masters of their country, a group whose rule during 1996-2001 has remained vivid in the public mind, not least because of the Taliban’s cruelty and repression.
While there have indeed been honeyed words from Acting Deputy Information Minister Zabihullah Mujahid, actions on the ground have not deviated from what took place during the previous Taliban administration. Despite the Taliban blocking internet and cell phone communication, news is daily seeping out of atrocities committed by elements of the Taliban. They are eager to take (preferably out of camera range) a horrible revenge on all those who had opposed them in the past. Such matters seem to be of little consequence to Joe Biden, just as they are to Xi Jinping.
Adolf Hitler made no secret of his plans since the 1920s but repeated them constantly ever since. Across Afghanistan, in streets and in homes, elements of the Taliban are showing why almost all the ministers who were active in fomenting terror from 1996 until 2001 regarded Osama Bin Laden as a hero rather than as the terrorist that he was. Executions are taking place since the Biden surrender, young girls are being dragged away to assault from ageing criminals, and loss of assets and lives is taking place on an industrial scale.
As then, so now, only a few are pointing to the reality that the Trump-Biden surrender to the Taliban is a sorry repeat of Chamberlain and Daladier handing over of the Czechs in 1938 into the hands of Nazi slaveholders. Should President Biden continue to act on the delusion that the Taliban has changed, and can be done business with, it will not be long before friends and relatives of Joe Biden will be ashamed to admit to their association with a leader who favours not the elimination but the appeasement of evil.