Donald Trump may not have intended this particular effect but the Mother of All Bombs, the 22,000-pound GBU-43 dropped on Afghanistan, has reminded people of America’s failure.
Sixteen years on, thousands of deaths, trillions of dollars later, the US is still fighting the Afghan war. But who and what is it fighting? And for whom and for what?
No one can clearly say. Perhaps no one really knows.
Afghanistan’s failure of governance is not an advert for the successive Kabul governments supported by the US. That was the case with Hamid Karzai’s government. And now it is the case with the one notionally run by Ashraf Ghani (while Abdullah Abdullah interferes with the process). This is the reason the Taliban has been able to revive in areas from which they had been chased. Here’s a handy statistic that’s almost as shocking as the explosive yield of the MOAB: the Taliban now controls more land than at any time since 2001.
What can the 8,400 American troops on the ground still in Afghanistan do about this?
If the Americans haven’t managed to impose good governance on Afghanistan in 16 years (obviously, no outsider can and more fool them for claiming that they were trying), they are not going to be able to do it now.
Not now, when Iran and Russia are actively talking to the Taliban and trying to cut at American influence in Afghanistan.
It’s obvious that the US is pretty worried about the new Great Game afoot in the Hindu Kush, with President Trump’s national security adviser H.R. McMaster travelling to Kabul on Sunday, April 16. It’s doubtful though that there is almost anything he could say (or do) to fix the situation.