The Taliban won the right to take over Afghanistan, not long after, the US pulled out of the war that has been bogged down for 20 years. Why did the Taliban win so easily?
One can draw many conclusions about the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Here are three of them: the Taliban defeated the US; America’s role in the world is waning; Anti-American sentiment in Afghanistan is growing.
These topics are hotly discussed on the internet. Many supporters of the Taliban organization make the most of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. What can the United States do to counter these narratives and perceptions of Taliban strength and American weakness?
Dr. Gary M. Shiffman, a Gulf War veteran, former chief of staff at U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University analyzed on The Hill that the withdrawal of The United States has provided an opportunity for some individuals to assert the Taliban’s ascension to the throne. But who are these individuals? Who owns the Taliban?
A recent article pointed to the internal divisions going on in Afghanistan. “There is a new war brewing in Afghanistan, which is the internal conflicts within the Taliban,” wrote Princeton professor Jacob Shapiro.
Think of those who are vying for political power in Afghanistan today because of the power vacuum created by America’s departure. Some see this as their great opportunity to move up the political ladder; Others in leadership roles are now also worried about their potential competitors.
Afghanistan looks more like a competitive market today, where people use violence and coercion, engage in corruption, and revolve around stories of victory and right, all to fulfill personal ambitions. Many political entrepreneurs who want to grow in power, wealth, and stature think now is the time, but not all of them will succeed.
How can the US make the Taliban fail? Like a business, the Taliban pay their fighters and leaders. As an organization, the Taliban generates $400 million in revenue from the opium trade. But competitors such as the Haqqani Network, the Islamic State, and the Afghan government still dominate the market share and control the population in the Afghan political market.
While $400 million in opium sales sounds like a lot, when weighed against the costs of paying salaries, supplies, spares, food, and vehicle gas, it could fall short.
Compared to the amount needed to consolidate power and run the whole apparatus.
The reality is, the Taliban need more money. As Shapiro notes, without foreign aid, the Taliban would begin “an unshakable slide into another round of fighting, and ultimately to a government with little power outside the heart of Pashtun”.
The United States has financial power and can provide and deny access to capital and trade. America can punish individuals and businesses and can lead the world in coalition economic policies designed to curb abusive leaders and promote democratic leaders.
By cutting off Taliban funding, the US can have an impact on what happens next in Afghanistan.