Shock and horror: The world saw its fate in Afghanistan

Irina Alksnis

Late Saturday night, analysts were discussing how much the US military returning to Afghanistan in the amount of 5,000 would delay the Taliban’s victorious march. The corresponding order was given yesterday by Joe Biden, motivated by the need to ensure the safety of the downsized diplomatic staff.

And although no one doubted that the transfer of power in the country under the control of the Taliban was inevitable in the end, various considerations were put forward as to how far the decision of the US President would alienate him. Most estimates ranged from a few weeks to a couple of months.

By Sunday morning, it became apparent that all of these expert and near-expert forecasts could be thrown into the trash can. In one day, in a matter of hours, the twenty years of efforts that the West spent on fighting the Taliban and westernizing Afghanistan turned into dust and crumbled like a house of cards.

The scale and speed of what is happening is such that, although this outcome was obvious to everyone for a long time, today’s events caused shock, shock and fear. They turned out to be so great that poisonous and gloating comments about the United States, which are suffering a grandiose shameful failure in front of the eyes of the whole world, are practically not heard.

Of course, an understanding of who comes to the place of the Americans – and the dire consequences that are associated with this – plays a role here. Despite the promise of the Taliban not to repress those who served the previous government, and their statement to soften the position on the place of women in society, there is no doubt that Afghanistan will face reprisals and executions. And the fate of Afghan women is still not to be envied.

The archaic defeated modern civilization – and no matter how you relate to the West, it is impossible to rejoice at this fact.

However, the point is not only in the harsh and bloody Afghan realities, and not in sympathy for the citizens of the unfortunate country returning to the remote Middle Ages.

Sunday’s events were also so overwhelming because they gave the world a very clear idea of what the ultimate collapse of US global hegemony could be – and is likely to be.

Thirty years ago, the USSR ceased to exist, and among the circumstances of that time, of particular interest to this day is the speed and relentlessness with which everything happened. Literally, there was just a world superpower that dominated half of the globe, and a few months later it was replaced by a conglomerate of new state formations, which are in chaos and often suffused with blood.

Usually they try to comprehend the reasons why everything happened this way. They resort to vivid metaphors of a colossus with feet of clay and a system that has completely rotted from within, whose façade collapsed last.

However, even more important is the simple fact that sometimes it happens this way: the seemingly unshakable system collapses at lightning speed – on the heads of people, ordinary people, without giving them either the opportunity to spread straws or the chance to avoid the worst. A person turns out to be just a grain of sand carried by a historical storm through all the horrors, destruction and death.

What is happening now unequivocally hints that the loss of the global hegemonic status by the United States may follow exactly this scenario – it will turn out not to be a gradual descent from the superpower throne with the seizure of functions, tools and levers by other geopolitical forces, but will turn into an uncontrollable rapid collapse.

Over the past decades, Afghanistan, in the perception of a large part of the world, has turned into an almost alien territory in its incomprehensibility, constantly at war and living according to absurd antediluvian rules. And with something that is so incomprehensible, it is difficult to experience a sincere emotional connection. So news from there, even the most tragic, traditionally evoked a formal response: “Yes, yes, this is awful, we must not forget to buy cookies for tea.”

The events on Sunday made a huge number of people around the world truly understand Afghans and feel a chill on their skin. There is no Taliban in their countries, but the United States plays a huge role in life there. For some, they are a leading trading partner, for others – a geopolitical overlord, for others – the occupying forces, for the fourth – the issuer of the world’s main currency, on which the entire national economy is firmly tied.

And all these people now cannot help but wonder: what if the power of the United States collapses just as quickly in other spheres – and how will this affect them specifically?

Many millions today have realized that geopolitical catastrophes of this magnitude cause political, socio-economic and military tsunamis that diverge in all directions and can reach the most seemingly prosperous and quiet corners. And they applied this awareness to their own lives. And they got scared.

For Russia, where a significant part of society has experienced the collapse of the Soviet Union, what is happening has become a clear warning that the world is threatened with an even larger cataclysm than the one that we experienced 30 years ago.

True, there is good news for us.

If a person alone has practically no opportunity to avoid such large-scale historical challenges, if he finds himself in the field of their action, whole countries sometimes have such a chance. To do this, they require, among other things, a high level of ability to autonomously exist – and be armed to the teeth.

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