What has the Afghanistan mission achieved?

The security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated considerably since the withdrawal of international troops began on 1 May. The Islamist Taliban have now recaptured more than half of the country's territory. Europe's press discusses the purpose and consequences of military missions like that in Afghanistan.

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Contributors (RO) /

Learn from defeat

The failure in Afghanistan should inspire the West to rethink its military inventions, writes columnist Radu Carp in Contributors:

“Authoritarian regimes have a major strategic advantage right now: they have huge military arsenals at their disposal without being held accountable internally because democratic control mechanisms are lacking and they can use unlimited force to achieve their strategic goals. ... The Taliban's attacks are all armed, classic attacks, but most of the reactions that have led to the failure of military operations are of a hybrid nature. How we respond to such hybrid threats in the future remains an open question.”

The Independent (GB) /

All for nothing

Military interventions rarely bring real change, The Independent sums up:

“If any conclusions can be drawn from the past 20 years of western military interventions, it is surely that other countries must build their own futures; that help, however well-intentioned, is only as durable as the support it enjoys in that country; and that no government that depends on an outside force is likely to survive its departure. ... The conflicts that were artificially interrupted are likely to pick up where they left off. Where they left off was - in this case - in 2001, after 9/11 and with attempts to defeat the Taliban. And, alas, it would seem that, for all the talk of social progress, Afghanistan is little nearer to being stable.”

tagesschau.de (DE) /

Unrealistic discussion about deportations

A dispute has flared up in Germany over whether criminals and Islamists deemed to be dangerous should continue to be deported to Afghanistan. This is all just a sham, tagesschau.de stresses:

“A civil war will soon be raging in Afghanistan, one which the Afghan security forces cannot win. Deporting people there even though we are aware of this is inhumane. And tricking voters into believing that it is possible to continue with the current refugee policy is a sham. Millions of Afghans are likely to become refugees. The refugee agreement with Turkey will no longer stop them on their path to the EU. And then voters will also expect more than the German government putting six men on a plane to Kabul.”

The Times (GB) /

It takes more than boots on the ground

The Times takes a sobering look at the West's military interventions in the region:

“We need credible armed forces and must be willing to defend our vital interests. The western powers have failed, however, as nation-builders. ... But large-scale deployments of western 'boots on the ground' have been repeatedly tried and found wanting. Short, sharp, limited troop interventions may continue. For long-haul campaigns, however, the West is likely to have to rely upon a witches' brew of diplomacy, cash, air power, spooks and mercenaries.”

Jyllands-Posten (DK) /

The illusion of exporting democracy

Bringing Western values to Afghanistan with troops simply doesn't work, writes Jyllands-Posten:

“The war in Afghanistan dragged on for 20 years - from today's perspective, the West could have retreated after ten years and the result would have been the same. Armies of invaders have been marooned in Afghanistan over the centuries. Yet the West believed it was above history and overestimated itself and the power of its values. This is an important lesson for the future. Who ever said that the Afghans were interested in Western-style democracy?”

Habertürk (TR) /

Ankara must intervene

Turkey must act as quickly as possible to prevent a catastrophe, Habertürk comments:

“If the situation goes on like this and if Turkey were to launch a mission, most of the country with the exception of Kabul and its surrounding areas will be controlled by the Taliban! According to the World Bank, 50 percent of the country's population lives in poverty, and that figure is soon expected to exceed 70 percent. ... Now that all international units have withdrawn, Turkey must urgently create a space for diplomacy and negotiation and act as soon as possible, especially to stop the human drama in the north of the country.”

Adevărul (RO) /

Call Romania's leaders to account

Like all the Allies, Romania has withdrawn its soldiers from the area of operations in Afghanistan. The time has come for some awkward questions, writes journalist Cristian Unteanu in Adevărul:

“Who decided to continue the missions beyond all reasonable hope of success, and why? These questions must be asked at the national level: we must ask our leaders, who were responsible for the overall decision, but also our military leaders. ... Or perhaps they were afraid for various reasons? After all, who are the Romanians to object when the Americans have already made up their mind? Will we be allowed to see the official analyses of the Ministry of Defence on the 'Afghanistan episode'? At least post factum?”