Sunday radio shows described Afghanistan events as West's failure

Commander of the Estonian Defense Forces Lt. Gen. Martin Herem decorates Estonian soldiers returning from Afghanistan.
Commander of the Estonian Defense Forces Lt. Gen. Martin Herem decorates Estonian soldiers returning from Afghanistan. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Afghanistan falling under Taliban's rule so quickly after the departure of U.S. and allied troops is a blow for the West and especially USA after 20 years of heavy investment in building up the country's military only for it to surrender the country virtually without giving a battle, hosts of Sunday talk shows "Olukorrast riigis" and "Samost ja Sildam" found.

The U.S. and allied troops ended their 20-year Afghanistan mission this summer. Estonia pulled out the last of its units in early June.

The Americans alone allegedly invested €88 billion in Afghanistan to build up the mountainous country's military capacity needed to resist the Taliban. Now, the country has fallen to the latter virtually without resistance and in a matter of just a few days.

Estonia did not have much choice when the Afghanistan war began because it was after the favor of NATO and the West, host of "Olukorrast riigis," Indrek Lepik said.

He found that sticking to the position according to which Estonia was just helping out its ally USA would be somewhat shortsighted today and denounce where Estonia has gotten in its 30 years as an independent state.

Co-host Holger Roonemaa said that the U.S. seems to be just as short on bright ideas of what to do next.

"The country collapsing so quickly has come either as a shock or at the very least an unpleasant surprise," he said. "I see nothing that can deliver the country and its people."

Should the capital Kabul fall, Taliban will have regained full control over Afghanistan, raising a series of questions from whether girls can continue to attend school right down to the export of terrorism.

He added that while the U.S. embassy in Kabul has asked to be untouched, its staff is already burning documents.

"Twenty years of U.S. activity in Afghanistan has failed," Lepik added, offering that no one could have expected the collapse to be this fast and complete.

"Is it still a country and will it remain one after falling to the Taliban?" Lepik asked.

The host said that no terrorist acts were committed from Afghanistan in the 20 years the Americans were there, while Taliban also did not disappear.

"The situation in Afghanistan should also directly concern Russia and China. It is likely that both will allow the situation to escalate further simply to shame USA," Roonemaa offered.

The situation concerns Estonia much more closely than the distance of Afghanistan would lead one to believe as the Taliban seizing power will unleash a migrant flow counted in millions.

"We do not know the routes these people will take. A surge of refugees is something we will be addressing here in Estonia too," Roonemaa said. "If ever anyone deserved the status of refugee, it is people fleeing the Taliban."

Lepik warned against dehumanizing Afghan refugees, suggesting they should not be referred to as a wave of migrants descending on the West.

"We need to keep an eye on this topic anyway, while we cannot just wash out hands of the whole thing and say that the Middle East is nothing but a bomb crater. We do not have the luxury of cultivating such an attitude," Lepik warned.

Host of "Samost ja Sildam" Toomas Sildam also described the Afghanistan events as the West's failure and especially that of USA.

"If this is not a failure, I don't know what is," he said.

Anvar Samost pointed out that Estonia is a penholder on Afghanistan in the UN Security Council. The Estonian foreign ministry made an official statement before Midsummer Day, saying that Estonia's role was maintaining the viability of peace talks in Afghanistan, supporting cooperation, looking for mutual solutions and helping maintain success already achieved.

"The authorities falling apart in a matter of days was rather a very big surprise for everyone," Samost said.

"It was said a week ago that Kabul would last three months, which was then downgraded to three weeks, while we now have to ask whether it will hold out for another three hours," Sildam added.

Samost said that we should, in light of these events, ask ourselves whether our way of life is even feasible or due in a country sporting very different traditions.

Sildam emphasized that Estonia's participation in the Afghanistan mission was important as it earned us allied relations and brothers in arms.

"We could not render the country more functional and its society happier since 20 years ago when the Talibs were kicked out. The West has failed. However, hundreds of Estonian Defense Forces members have gained precious combat experience," Sildam evaluated.

Samost agreed: "I have no doubt that Estonia has achieved a long-term foreign and security policy result from all this, which was neither empty nor pointless but very much the right call at the time."

Sildam wondered at how the Afghan defense force in which €88 billion has allegedly been poured surrendered major provincial centers and the capital Kabul virtually without resistance.

"Now, the U.S. needs to move in 5,000 troops to evacuate its embassy," he added.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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