Moonshot approach in Afghanistan

Instead of Mujahideen, name of the insurgency is Taliban and America is its enemy, not the friend

Imran Jan April 08, 2021
The writer is a political analyst. Email: [email protected] Twitter @Imran_Jan

President Joe Biden has been eagerly trying to re-enter the Iran nuclear deal that his predecessor had ripped apart. However, he is trying hard to exit the deal his predecessor had reached with the Taliban. While the exit from one and re-entry into another may sound like moving in absolute opposite directions, the motive behind it is not. The aim behind both the seemingly opposite strategies is about power and control. Not withdrawing from Afghanistan gives America the ability to remain there and exert better control over that land as well as the region. Similarly, being a part of the Iran nuclear deal and keeping the deal intact allows the United States the ability to keep tabs on Iran’s nuclear activities and prevent it from reaching a breakout scenario.


The Iran nuclear deal and the peace deal with the Taliban are good examples of an imperialist mindset. While President Trump tried to shake things up, the traditional warring America is back with Biden in charge. By re-entering the deal with Iran, the US would upset Israel, even though it is a sacred cow for Washington. By unravelling the deal with the Taliban, the US would upset Pakistan, a seasonal ally. But imperialism trumps alliances. The heat of the violence on the soil of Afghanistan would be felt in Pakistan as well. Furthermore, the Kabul regime in charge spares no opportunity to do terrorist activities in Pakistan.

Several US officials have nicknamed the withdrawal from Afghanistan as “moonshot”, to indicate how lofty a goal it is to meet the May 1 deadline of withdrawing from Afghanistan. After months of silence and inaction, the excuse that is ready to be rolled out for staying in Afghanistan is that only a few weeks are left in the May 1 deadline.

It reminds me of something from my childhood. My brother had an important exam the next morning. It was night time and I have a very vivid memory of him throwing a biology textbook on the bed and saying, “this large book has to be studied, but I only have one night” in order to pass the exam. I was very young but I did say to him that he had the entire year to study that book, so how come he was now saying that it was only one night. President Biden also did not have weeks, he had months to deal with this. More importantly, almost all the work had been done for him by his predecessor and the special diplomat, Zalmay Khalilzad. All that Biden was supposed to do was to carry forward America’s word and credibility. He was only required to fulfil a promise his country had made. Not treating America’s agreements as sacrosanct was what Trump was always critiqued for not too long ago.

Many Afghan officials are arguing that the mistakes of the past must not be repeated where the country descended into chaos and a civil war erupted after the previous American withdrawal. The remarkable yet shameful spin of this argument must be talked about. Back then, the insurgency that was the Mujahideen turned into a local warlord-ship because of the withdrawal of America —the ally. The enemy was the Soviet Union. The civil war didn’t happen because the enemy was defeated, it happened because the friend of Jihad, namely America, left town after the Soviet tanks crossed the Friendship Bridge. Today, in Afghanistan, instead of the Mujahideen, the name of the insurgency is the Taliban and America is its enemy, not the friend.

An extreme form of anarchy and bloodshed will ensue if America decides to remain in Afghanistan. In that eventuality, the Taliban will get back to business and do what they do best: create mayhem. The level of violence would then be visible even from the moon, which would be the real moonshot if one were to shoot from there.