Skip navigation

The fall of Kabul: who is responsible

The fall of Kabul: who is responsible

Coulson-Thomas, Colin (2022) The fall of Kabul: who is responsible. Politieconomy (The International Research Journal of Political Economy), 7 (I & II). pp. 178-191. ISSN 2348-3091

36800_COULSON THOMAS_The_fall_of_Kabul.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (362kB) | Preview


The unopposed fall of Kabul to the Taliban on 15th August 2021 apparently took many people by surprise, including decision makers who might have expected to have been better informed about the likely consequences of a final withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan. This article written soon after these events occurred explores the rationale for US and NATO involvement and extraction from Afghanistan, economic, military and intelligence considerations, the attempted introduction of democracy, local Afghan self-sufficiency and viability, reading the road ahead, addressing contextual realities, particular local challenges, policy and its implementation, learning lessons from the fall of Kabul, reviewing purposes and priorities, and tentative conclusions.

An externally imposed system that did not fully address and accommodate the fragmented, divided, tribal and actively resistant nature of the Afghan context was unlikely to be regarded as legitimate by armed and excluded insurgent groups. In the absence of a shared purpose across diverse communities, withdrawal from any intervention without a clear and carefully planned and thoughtfully executed exit strategy was likely to have serious negative consequences for those supporting and/or benefitting from the intervention. While some experienced greater freedom and opportunity for a period, the fall of Kabul appears to have vindicated those who have argued that from a US perspective and as practiced the war in Afghanistan was unwinnable. Holding ground across the country was likely to be costly if not impossible when faced with an armed insurgency with both local and regional support.

Because of the seizure of abandoned equipment by insurgents, US taxpayers have funded the rearmament and re-equipment of the Taliban and increased its potential to entrench its position. The case for democracy in certain contexts may have been weakened and militant opponents may have been emboldened. Their activities may move back to Western streets. Ambition has to be tempered with caution and given existential threats such as climate change, distractions avoided. Going forward, policies must be realistic and flexible. Military capability should be both smart and strong. There are allies to reassure. As an era of assumed American economic and military supremacy comes to an end, the US must collaborate with them in seeking to contain totalitarian expansion.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The Politieconomy (ISSN 2348 3091) is sponsored and published by the Sri Sharada Institute of Indian Management-Research (SRISIIM)
Uncontrolled Keywords: military; politics; democratisation; Taliban; Afghanistan; insurgency; militant Islamism; international relations; corruption
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DS Asia
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Business
Faculty of Business > Centre for Work and Employment Research (CREW)
Faculty of Business > Centre for Work and Employment Research (CREW) > Leadership & Organisational Behaviour Research Group (LOB)
Faculty of Business > Department of Human Resources & Organisational Behaviour
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2022 10:45

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics