by James Jeffrey
Friday, 11
February 2022
Debate
17:25

It’s time for Joe Biden to recognise the Taliban

Without US aid, the country will implode
by James Jeffrey
Credit: Getty

Today, the Biden administration announced that it will be invoking emergency powers to split $7 billion of the total assets the Afghan central bank kept in New York. It added that while $3.5 billion would be released to a trust fund for ‘immediate’ humanitarian relief in Afghanistan, the remaining assets would remain in American hands.

For Afghans, this is terrible news. There are currently around eight million people at risk of starvation, including a million children, who are in desperate need of financial support. Around 75% of public spending in Afghanistan came from Western aid, and now the country is receiving a fraction of that sum. Today, a stunning 97% of Afghans currently living around the poverty line. On top of this, the country is suffering the worst drought in 30 years, alongside a bitterly cold winter. As WFP Country Director in Afghanistan said: “Afghanistan is facing an avalanche of hunger and destitution the likes of which I have never seen in my twenty plus years with the World Food Programme”.

Thus after two decades of visiting devastation on Afghanistan, the international community is following up by compounding the betrayal and misery on the country. Like many veterans of Afghanistan (and Iraq) dealing with the fallout, I’m no great fan of our military general class who played a significant role in facilitating the disaster. But former UK defence chief General Sir David Richards put it well earlier this week in the BBC Panorama episode “Afghanistan: a country at Breaking Point”:

That fact is, they defeated us and we have to come to terms with that inconvenient fact. They are now the government of Afghanistan. They are responsible for 40 million odd people.
- David Richards, BBC Panorama

I haven’t agreed as much with a British general for a long time, but he’s right: we need to recognise that the Taliban are in power now. Most of the media and the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office continue to hammer on about respecting the rights of women and girls. But we cannot expect a country to overhaul all of its values and traditions according to western ideals. Besides, isn’t the ongoing hunger crisis of slightly greater concern?

For the survival of millions of Afghan people, we must deal with the current stalemate over funding that is destroying the country — one whose people have already endured unimaginable suffering for four decades of conflict. It’s time for the West to show magnanimity in defeat by recognising the Taliban and release the money Afghanistan so desperately needs.

James Jeffrey is a freelance writer who splits his time between the US, the UK, and further afield. He previously served in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan with the British Army. Follow him on Twitter: @jrfjeffrey and at his website: www.jamesjeffreyjournalism.com

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Mikis Hasson
Mikis Hasson
7 months ago

The Afghan people chose the Taliban. Why don’t we leave them alone to live their lives. Why do we still want to impose our values on them? Life is a game of choices and consequences. Why do we need to obligate everybody to be a victim dependent on charity? Enough of this hypocritical goody goodness!

James Joyce
James Joyce
7 months ago
Reply to  Mikis Hasson

With respect, I disagree. There is a real tragedy here, not that 97% of Afghans live in or near poverty, not that 75% of their economy came from the West, the real tragedy is that Afghan girls can’t go to school.
An entire generation of women steeped in Gender Studies will be lost, perhaps forever. How will Afghans outside of Kabul know which pronoun is acceptable?
Have you no decency, sir or madame? It is our duty to MAP–Make Afghanistan Progressive…..

Mikis Hasson
Mikis Hasson
7 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

Let’s impose on them the non binary concept. Maybe if we all give money and feed them we will succeed!

James Joyce
James Joyce
7 months ago
Reply to  Mikis Hasson

Brilliant! Afghans can become “Alphabet People!” We all know the phrase “food for thought.”
So 20th Century. Can we rework this for current needs? How about “food for embracing a cis-gender LGBTQ+ identity?”
It doesn’t quite flow, but the concept is important, so important…..

John Riordan
John Riordan
7 months ago
Reply to  Mikis Hasson

“The Afghan people chose the Taliban.”

They most certainly did not.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
7 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

they most certainly did – what do you know of it? Obviously nothing

John Riordan
John Riordan
7 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

You are a mad person, stop talking.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
7 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

You seem to win the gold for flakiness.

Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
7 months ago
Reply to  Mikis Hasson

“The Afghan people”, That makes them sound like a homogenous group – but they are very diverse, ranging from tribal peoples living in a seventh century society, to a modern urban element. Imposing the values of either group on the other is a cruel tragedy.

James Joyce
James Joyce
7 months ago

The American people chose Biden.
That makes them sound like a homogenous group…..

Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
7 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

But then, of course, not all of the American people chose Biden – only a majority.

Stephen Walshe
Stephen Walshe
7 months ago

They defeated us? And yet they need our help to feed their people? Some victory. If US were still on the ground to provide some assurance that the money was not just pocketed by the Taliban then maybe. But not otherwise. The Taliban apparently “won”. They are now responsible.

Last edited 7 months ago by Stephen Walshe
Billy Bob
Billy Bob
7 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walshe

Then release the funds, lift all sanctions and let them run the country free from foreign interference. Let them succeed or fail on their own merits, rather than pushing the population into starvation trying to save face from a military defeat and shambolic evacuation

James Joyce
James Joyce
7 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Agree. Wash our hands of it, leave them alone.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
7 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

WTF do you arrogant Westerners know of anything that you make such a pronouncement?

I Fuc* ing knew them – they were amazing, my time there was the best in my life – and we rolled in in Arrogance so stupid and vast it is beyond comprehension – to ‘FIX‘ their women, to make them little parrots of the sick parts of Westernism – and in the process destroyed the nation and people.

FUC*ING Wash Our Hands Of IT?????????????????

FUC*!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

James Joyce
James Joyce
7 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Your point? Any chance we can get you to go back, relive your salad days?

Last edited 7 months ago by James Joyce
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
7 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Jeez are you on some kind of medication affecting your ability to provide reasoned argument?

Stephen Walshe
Stephen Walshe
7 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

They already have control of most of the other assets of the Afghan state, and certainly never recognised any previous Afghan regime themselves, or ever sought to affect change through lawful or peaceful means. Based on the Taliban’s track record this would just be another $7bn to torment and oppress the Afghan people, rather than to relieve their suffering. After everything they have done, they cannot credibly expect to be handed $7bn with no strings attached.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
7 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walshe

WTF Do you know? You are just like the ones who destroyed the place, and then want to blame them for it.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
7 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

And you seem to be providing no insight at all except exaggerated grievance. You realise venting your rage wins no-one around to your position?
Or are you just virtue signalling your morality to all of us and don’t care about the arguments?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
7 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walshe

They defeated our wokeness – which is also why we fought them – we were there for one reason – to make their women in the image of Western Progressive Ideals of sexual permissive, sterile, pill taking, aborting, sexualized man haters. The OBSCENE – MSM and NGO industry has captured us and forced us to remain in Afghanistan (after the Military Industrial Complex had done their run in the 1980 – 2000)

to ‘Fix’ their women problem. In doing so we destroyed the country – and the people. WE OWE THEM A NEW COUNTRY! ‘YOU BROKE IT YOU BOUGHT IT’

The EVIL Woke NGS’s and MSM destroyed them to try to make them the degenerate, secular humanist, pan-sexual, rutting, creatures we believe is the moral perfection of existence. They disagreed, so we destroyed them.

Frederick B
Frederick B
7 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

You have a point, a good one I think. But the verbiage is a distraction.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
7 months ago

Twenty years and a trillion dollars down the drain is enough. Hard as it seems, Afghanistan is going to have to learn to stand on its own feet. The world is moving on.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
7 months ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

Sorry we broke both your knees – but as you will not do as we tell you to do – you now need to stand on your own two feet as we have lost interest and are leaving…..

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
7 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Yup, summed up nicely. Let them wallow in their barbarism, dressed up as religious belief.

Tom Lewis
Tom Lewis
7 months ago

Wasn’t it a WW2 American General who said words to the effect “You break it, you own it”.

Why should the West be responsible for Afghanistan’s mess ? Surely, first in line, to provide aid and relief, should be Pakistan (They are up to their necks when it comes to the catastrophe that is Afghanistan) followed by a host of oil rich Muslim states ?

James Joyce
James Joyce
7 months ago
Reply to  Tom Lewis

Not sure about a WW II general, but more recently it was that filthy coward and spineless traitor Collin Powell, who used it in Gulf War I. He referenced this as The Pottery Barn’s motto (Pottery Barn is a chain store)–“You broke it, you bought it.”

John Murray
John Murray
7 months ago

“they defeated us and we have to come to terms with that inconvenient fact. They are now the government of Afghanistan. They are responsible for 40 million odd people. “
Quite so. Wishing them the best of luck. Or perhaps sending thoughts and prayers (but not to Allah).

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
7 months ago
Reply to  John Murray

If You ran a bulldozer through someone’s house, destroying it, because you did not like how they thought – well, ‘Best Of Luck’ You are now responsible for finding some way for your family to live in the wreckage.’ would be your answer??????????????

And F YOU with your little snide

” Or perhaps sending thoughts and prayers (but not to Allah).”

WHAT IS IT WITH YOU UNHERD POSTERS? HOW DID YOU BECOME SO UTTERLY STUPID AND ARROGANT? What gives you the right to dismiss an entire nation of many millions of desperate people that you F***ed up – and just make snide little of joke dismissive remarks about.

You ever seen babies starving to death in total poverty? I have. You should try it – you all could blame them for it…..

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
7 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Maybe have a little more water in it tonight, Sanford.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
7 months ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

I do not drink, or take drugs.

I do remember Afghanistan, I have watched it since 1973 when the King’s Cousin and his Communist puppet government forced the King to exile, and in 79 invited in USSR to quell the people trying to overthrow that corrupt group – then 20 years of the war against USSR by USA, KSA, ISI, and some others using Afghanistan as a proxy ground to fight USSR to break it financially to end the Cold War. Our creation of the Talib, who broke the mujahideen we earlier created/funded, Then our INSANE!!!!! occupation of Afghanistan to ‘Remove Osama’ and the Talib who were Native, and never were going to export Terror as their form of Deobandi/Pashtunwali/QuasiSalif/Talibanism was 100% insular and Tribal, and only of the Afghani.

And how we stayed because the MSM, and the NGOs – ‘;Owned’ by the Postmodernist Woke third wave Feminists and Frankfurt School Liberal/Lefty Neo-Marxists made everything about breaking ‘Pashtunwali and the Deobandi Talib over secular Feminism, although it violated their native customs predating the conquest of Alexander the Great.

‘For the women and girls’ although it destroyed the Nation and the People – With ANOTHER 20 years WAR – For Degenerate Western Liberal Cultural Imperialism. Killed hundreds of thousands, cost a $ Trillion, gave the uber wealthy Military Industrial Complex Vultures uncounted Billions of $$$$ –

And sentenced the people there to 40 years of war – destabilized the region, corrupted Pakistan, USA, and everyone else, was all LIES, , and….,

But why the FU* K bother – you all know nothing, but think you do – so I best leave you to them….

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
7 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Gosh I think we need to set up a new religion to worship at the altar of your insight. Us mere mortals know so little – please guide us oh wise one.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
7 months ago

I think we went the “you started it, you pay for it” route after WW1. That turned out well.

Is it their money we’re obstructing, or our aid we’re not sending? Genuine question, I don’t know.

I have zero sympathy with the Islamism but starving children never seems a good answer to a problem, particularly from the side that always claims the moral high ground.

Win hearts and minds, or create bitter enemies? Once again the illogic of progressive thinking, and the political imperative to proselytise it, are a real straight jacket to genuine strategic thinking.

Last edited 7 months ago by Martin Bollis
Dana Jumper
Dana Jumper
7 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

I believe it’s money that we’ve frozen.
What amount of that money is designated to ‘humanitarian assistance’ I’m sure will be routed thru NGOs and other organizations built to profit off our war efforts and nation building. It seems a modern form of carpet bagging.
I think you’re right to wonder if that heavy-handedness doesn’t lead to creating bitter enemies; i.e., bin Laden, etc, with eventual disastrous results.
The illogic is not only progressive thinking. It is standard fare for neo-cons and liberals alike.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
7 months ago

Surely even the Taliban do not deserve a “commendation” from a senile Plastic Paddy.

Dustin Needle
Dustin Needle
7 months ago

Surely the Marshall Plan was less expensive than this mess?
They first need to explain to the US taxpayers where the money went and show some accountability for those decisions. Demonstrate an example that must be adopted by nation beneficiaries.
A template that could then be used for NGO’s and certain “activist” groups…
I know this is the US not UK and there are moral dilemmas here but across the West trust in Government’s use of our money has gone – completely.

Jeffrey Chongsathien
Jeffrey Chongsathien
7 months ago

The senile, corrupt tyrant can’t even recognize his own wife.

Iris C
Iris C
7 months ago

I heard about this on “Sunday” a religious programme on Radio 4, and was shocked! Joe Biden maintains that he is a Christian but clearly he does not follow the teaching in the New Testament – forgiveness, compassion and charity. He maintained that Afghanistan must pay reparations but I should have thought that reparations was what Afghanistan deserved after the destruction of their country to impose Western values, not the other way round..

James Joyce
James Joyce
7 months ago
Reply to  Iris C

I absolutely hope he doesn’t follow teachings in the New Testament. Keep religion out of politics. I’m sick of (American, maybe other) politicians say, in substance, My brother had depression, so I’m going to spend $1bn on depression (not their $$$), or my son died of cancer so we will spend $2bn on cancer….
If the brain dead elite must focus on a book to follow, how about ATLAS SHRUGGED?

Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
7 months ago
Reply to  Iris C

Forgiveness, compassion and charity are wasted on the Taliban, because they see those as signs of weakness. Imagining that they will respond positively to these is is as futile and stupid as having a pet scorpion.

Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
7 months ago

I’m sorry, I had no wish to disparage those who have a pet scorpion – but I am sure they keep it in a cage or tank, and if they do take it out to handle it (do they?) they will acknowledge its innate unpredictability.

Giles Toman
Giles Toman
7 months ago

They want to live in the 7th century, not the 21st. We spent squillions trying to get them out of this, and in the end they all chickened out, dropped the expensive guns that we sold them, and let the Taliban walk in and take over. Well, sorry, but tough. The world has too many humans as it is, a few less would be a good thing, overall.

John Riordan
John Riordan
7 months ago

Sigh. The Taliban did NOT defeat us. In fact the Americans chased them out of Kabul in the space of a week or two in 2001, and by 2013 had so stabilised the country that this year was the last time an American soldier was killed there – until the suicide bombing at Kabul airport last year, of course.

It’s true that the Taliban waged an extremely stubborn campaign of attrition for the past 20 years and that they are tenacious to the point of being psychopaths. But they regained Afghanistan only because the Americans decided the Taliban could have it back, effectively. The speed with which the Taliban retook the country surprised the USA, yes, but not the fact that they were going to do so.

Last edited 7 months ago by John Riordan
James Joyce
James Joyce
7 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Can you say “long game?”

I had a brother at Khe San
Fighting off the Viet Cong
They’re still there, he’s all gone….

Are you going to say Vietnam was a tie? (Kevin Kline, A FISH CALLED WANDA….)

Last edited 7 months ago by James Joyce
Albireo Double
Albireo Double
7 months ago

The West should release any money that belongs to Afghanistan, and then treat it as any other country. We can trade and have diplomatic relationships with it. And that is all.

Under no circumstances should we provide financial aid. This just amounts to a soft form of colonialism and helps nothing, especially since most of the actual money is absorbed, in the form of fat salaries, backhanders, perks, and pensions, by the agencies who are supposed to distribute it. It is a total waste of time.

We have to stop trying to persuade foreign peoples and foreign countries and cultures to Western ideals and Western ways of thinking. It doesn’t work, and if we cannot see that by now, then we must be quite mad.

So leave them alone. Give them no more help with strings attached, no more “support”, and above all, no more grief. Let them get on with their lives and sort out their problems in their own way.

Last edited 7 months ago by Albireo Double
Michael North
Michael North
7 months ago

$7bn split across 40m people works out at $175 each. That is not going to get anybody very far. The whole situation is entirely and solely the responsibility of the Taliban government. Western countries should stay well out and well away.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
7 months ago

We seem to want to treat Afghanistan as we treated Germany post WW1; and we know how well that worked

Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
7 months ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

There is a difference : Germany was a civilised society.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
7 months ago

The US left 81 billion dollars of advanced military tech and equipment there. Why don’t the Taliban sell that equipment to whoever wants to buy it. Plenty money then!

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
7 months ago

having read the comments below, I am astounded at the lack of sympathy towards the Afghan people. This is a terrible tragedy unfolding; Mr Jeffrey is absolutely right; we have to recognise that the Taliban won, and they are entitled to their money back. Hopefully they will use it wisely, but if they don’t, then we must impose sanctions of the type we use against bad guys all the world round.

James Joyce
James Joyce
7 months ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

Yes, “we” MUST impose sanctions because they have worked so well elsewhere.
All sanctions do is create a criminal class. They don’t work. Even the DPRK is heavily, heavily sanctioned, yet they have apparently sophisticated missiles, almost have nukes, and plenty of $$$$$, because they make it themselves. They literally make it–counterfeiting “Benjies….,” hundred dollar bills. I have read that they are even better than the originals.

Adam Bartlett
Adam Bartlett
7 months ago

This seems almost a no brainer. What’s the end game in maintaining the Taliban’s terrorist status & keeping it illegal for anyone to transact with them? Wait until half the population has starved to death, and most surviving parents have sold all their kids to slavery – on the assumption that after that’s happened some sense of decency will cause the Taliban to relinquish power and let ‘moderates’ take over? If that’s the plan, it would cause less suffering to attempt it by firebombing an increasing number of settlements each day – at least them the people would die quickly. I hope sensible readers consider donating to the Avaaz or similar relief fund – as Avaaz say, if enough to that it might shame goverments into some kind of a response.

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
7 months ago
Reply to  Adam Bartlett

Why don’t the Taliban ask their new “friends” the Chinese for aid. They’ve got their foot in the door already.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
7 months ago
Reply to  Doug Pingel

Because the Chinese are too busy giving all their aid to their friends the Italians, Moldavians, the Democrats, the IMF, the WHO, the Africans, the South/Central Americans, the East Asians, the EU, the Caribbean nations, the belt and road, and all the rest….

And the Chinese are too busy buying up all the USA, Canadian, Aus, Turkish, African, Western Pacific Island, Farmland and mineral rights…..and all their hard assets – what with their $200,000,000,000 Monthly exchange Surplus with the West – the money has to go somewhere…

FFS….Why not ask real questions – Like WHY are we not helping the Afghani’s?????? We could be building their mines, pipelines, roads, plant, and other Money Making Industries so they become independent – AND pay us for our investment – instead of giving them bread and letting China make the money off them????

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
7 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

We tried that, and they blew it all up.

Giles Toman
Giles Toman
7 months ago
Reply to  Adam Bartlett

Fewer people = better for the environment.