The decline of American hegemony
Twenty years after September 11, 2001, Americans and the rest of the free world remember the events that transpired on that day. Three passenger airplanes were hijacked by Middle Eastern men and two were directed to hit the Twin Towers in Manhattan, New York, the third was directed at the Pentagon, and the fourth, which was initially directed to hit the White House or Congress but several passengers wrestled with the hijackers to steer the plane away from their target. The plane crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania and all the passengers, hijackers, and the crew members perished when the plane
Clockwise from top left: Aftermath of the September 11 attacks ; American infantry in Afghanistan; an American soldier and Afghan interpreter in Zabul Province, Afghanistan; explosion of an Iraqi car bomb in Baghdad. Photo credit and caption: Wikipedia
On that fateful morning – at around 6:30 AM Pacific time — I was watching the news on CNN when the program was interrupted to make an announcement – breaking news! The live news showed two airplanes within minutes of each other crashed into the Twin Towers, which caused the skyscrapers to burst into flames. I was stunned! I rubbed my eyes to see if my eyesight was okay. I blinked and rubbed them again. It was real. Still in disbelief, I changed the channel to MSNBC and ergo! the same thing was happening. The Twin Towers were on fire and people were jumping out of the window to their deaths about 100 floors above the ground. Some were holding hands as if it would save them. But then I realized that they were holding hands in a final gesture of intimacy and strength.
A few minutes later the buildings started to crumble floor by floor. The sight was eerie. Horrible. I’ll never forget the sight until now – 20 years later. It is still vivid in my memory. The dust from the fallen buildings created huge clouds of smoke and the people – those who managed to evade the falling debris — were running away, covered with dust and ashes. People were crying. Their faces were in extreme anguish. They found solace in holding each other’s hands as if it matterered. But as someone once said, “It does matter.” Yes, there is something special about holding hands with another human being. This alchemy of two hands touching has so deeply captured man’s collective imagination – from the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling, which depicted God’s hand touching an angel’s hand to the lyrics of the Beatles’ “I wanna hold your hand.” (Source: Michal Rzepecki, Huffington Post, “The Science Behind The Profound Power of Holding Hands”)
There you go. Now, this explains the sights of people holding hands when threatened or when they jump out of buildings. It gives them strength and the will power to survive even when they face imminent death.
Significance of 9/11
As we celebrate two decades since 9/11, it reminds us of the significance of that eventful day. And nothing makes it more significant than when President Joe Biden ordered the withdrawal of US forces in Afghanistan. Just ten days short of 20 years, Biden ordered the immediate withdrawal for the wrong reasons. He said that it’s time to withdraw from Afghanistan since his goals have been reached, which was to defeat al-Qaeda and the terrorist groups but not to build the Afghan nation. He declared, “The war in Afghanistan is now over.” He argued that it was “past time to end the forever wars, which have cost us untold blood and treasure.” But critics — and even some Biden allies — questioned whether the “forever wars” are truly over. Biden may have shrunk the wars, they said, but he had not ended them. As it is evident now, al-Qaeda was never defeated. They just retreated but still have the means to terrorize.
In an effort to placate his European allies, Biden said, “We will maintain the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan and other countries. We just don’t need to fight a ground war to do it. We have what’s called ‘over the horizon’ capabilities.” So now, he’ll send the air force, navy, and the marines over the horizon to continue the war on terror. Didn’t he just fool us when he withdrew US forces from Afghanistan only to send them to fight the terrorists somewhere in the future?
Meanwhile, his withdrawal plan turned out to be chaotic, disorganized, and haphazardly executed. He withdrew the forces too soon and left behind thousands of Afghans who were employed as interpreters. Right now, the Taliban was hunting those left behind. They live on borrowed time, moving from one place to another.
Exit America, enter China
With the departure of American forces from Afghanistan, it created a power vacuum. And guess who is stepping in to fill the vacuum? The People’s Republic of China! Chinese President Xi Jinping is probably laughing and rolling now that he can provide the Taliban an offer they cannot refuse.
Surmise it to say, China is drooling over Afghanistan’s $3 trillion mineral reserves, which by the way includes lithium, used in the manufacture of batteries. Thus would be a boon to the electric car manufacturing industry in which China is putting a lot of money into it.
Information from the U.S. Geological Survey indicates that Afghanistan may hold unexplored mineral reserves worth as much as $1 trillion, and the government of Afghanistan estimated the figure at as high as $3 trillion, according to an article posted in 2012 by the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, DC. It’s not surprising then that the Taliban recently announced that China would be their “main partner” in rebuilding Afghanistan.
In 2010, the New York Times quoted an internal Pentagon memo saying that Afghanistan may become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium.” But with the current state of mining in Afghanistan, it might take five years to start exploring for lithium. But China is good in long-term play on the best of days. But now that the Taliban is in control, it’s more of a long-term play for Chinese interests. Beyond five years, it’s likely that Afghanistan will become a major exporter of lithium.
The end of the US occupation of Afghanistan would usher in a new era. It’s too bad that Biden surrendered American hegemony over Afghanistan. The Taliban had been tamed. They signed a peace treaty with Trump, which Biden would have inherited. And with $85 billion in US war machines, helicopters, aircraft, and ammunition left by the withdrawing American forces, the Afghan army would be armed to the teeth.
The US lost big time in Afghanistan and it will bite the US in years to come. As America leaves Afghanistan, the decline of American hegemony has begun.
It’s interesting to note that Sen. Lindsey Graham told a stunned BBC reporter last September 7 “the US would reenter Afghanistan to stop al-Qaeda from growing.” The shocked BBC reporter asked Graham “if he really believed that?” “We’ll have to,” Graham said. “Because the threat will be so large.”
Here we go again!