A cautionary tale of trust and mistrust
By David E. Kaplan
Twenty-one years ago in 2001 in Toronto Canada, 584 million dollars was raised at a benefit concert by Music Without Borders for Afghan refugees.
Will there be a need for another?
Reporting on CNN from Kabul, Clarissa Ward described how “People woke up to the news in the morning that Taliban were at the gates just outside Kabul; there was chaos in the streets, everyone clambering to get to the airport, the road completely overrun; others locked up in their homes; no idea what the future will bring; and no sense of clarity from their government as to what the situation is.”
No “clarity” from their government – for sure, “their’ President – now ex-President Ashraf Ghani – had fled the country!
Astute Israelis woke to this unfolding horror story with their antennae out – extremely concerned!
With Iran at the gates of Israel through their proxies in Lebanon, Gaza and Syria and Defense Minister Bennie Gantz warning envoys from UNSC members that “Iran is 10 weeks away from amassing enough weapons-grade material for a nuke”, Israel must be questioning – in the light of the Afghan debacle – how reliable and dependable is Israel’s “best friend”? There is more to concern Israel over and above the soon-to-be declared ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’ turning into a hotbed of global terrorism. With all the US’s best intentions to its allies and friends, can they be relied upon to safely revive the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) with a belligerent Iran, when they got it so wrong with a numerically smaller and inferior weaponised Taliban?
However the US spokespeople try spin the spectacular collapse of Afghanistan, people recall the words of President Biden who only as recently on the 8 May 2021 said:
“The likelihood there’s going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely.”
How did the President come to this disastrous delusion? Refuting the comparison to the defeat and optic retreat in Vietnam, Biden went on national television to explain:
“The Taliban is not the south – the North Vietnamese army. They’re not – they’re not remotely comparable in terms of capability. There’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy of the United States from Afghanistan. It is not at all comparable.”
From his Camp David retreat – an unfortunate added meaning today – the President can only look on with despair as he had to authorise sending more armed forces back into Kabul than they had left behind in order to safely rescue its embassy staff and other important personnel.
The human drama playing out on our TV screens is being characterised as one of the worst foreign policy blunders in half a century? Even US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, reluctantly admitted on CNN that that the Taliban advance and takeover was “more rapid” than expected.
Israelis have good reason to be worried!
As a US president that particularly prides himself on his foreign policy experience, we can expect that Biden’s delusional July predictions on the Taliban were not mindless musings but based on daily briefings from his intelligence agencies and the Pentagon. Are these the safe hands that Israel is being cajoled to place its future in as the US remains on course to pursue reviving or rejoining the JCPOA and removing the strategically-structured sanction regime? Does the US administration really believe that Iran, now since June 2021 with an even more extreme President Raisa that it can seriously restrict its nuclear ambitions as well as limit its ballistic missile programme and its support for groups that even the U.S. considers terrorists?
The Biden administration’s hopes of a quick re-entry into the 2015 nuclear accord thankfully did not happen. What has happened can only be described as a stalemate compounded by Iran’s technological advances with reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran has taken steps to make metal fuel plates with uranium it has enriched to 20% purity. This is banned by the “deal” with the world powers and marks a significant step toward the production of a nuclear bomb.
Such explosive revelations are worrying to a tiny country – the primary target of belligerent Iran.
As America’s longest war ends in ignominious defeat, maybe its opportune to reflect on the cautionary counsel of the Chinese general, military strategist and philosopher Sun Tzu who in his The Art of War wrote:
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
Reflecting on these words, does a such divided USA over so many far-reaching issues and grappling to understand its own national persona, truly understand the culture of its enemies?
Israel cannot afford the risk for such failures in monumental misunderstanding when it comes to Iran. The implications are existential.
For Israel, a nuclear Iran hellbent on destroying the Jewish state, cannot be understated. Will the fall of Kabul wize up a befuddled Washington on its perspective on Iran and herald the demise of the JCPOA?
Israelis are watching the news very attentively!
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