Military Review

"Why the US is losing wars": the West understands the reasons for the defeat in Afghanistan


Since World War II, the United States has lost nearly every war it has fought in developing countries. What is the reason for the failures of the American military on all fronts?

Any conflict becomes a tragedy

The question "why the US is losing wars" was asked by Professor Amin Saikal on the pages of the Western edition of ASPI Strategist.

This fiasco epitomizes the tragedy of a world power's inability to engage in asymmetric conflicts. The last war that the United States is now abandoning without achieving its original goals is the 20-year conflict in Afghanistan. The potentially catastrophic impact of this move on Afghanistan, the region and NATO's reputation cannot be underestimated

- the author writes.

In his words, after the Vietnam fiasco and the failure in Iraq, as well as on the example of the USSR's defeat in Afghanistan, one would expect a more careful choice of the target of the intervention. But the case of Afghanistan clearly demonstrates the opposite. The American invasions were dictated mainly by Washington's self-confidence that it had the necessary military power to easily crush the enemy.

As with Vietnam and Iraq, and now Afghanistan, Washington planners proved to be very effective in invading the country, but failed when it came to winning the war.

- says the observer, understanding the reasons for the defeats.

Causes of failures

The first is Washington's inability to grasp the complexity of the country it invaded and the region that surrounds it. Former US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates bluntly states in his 2014 memoir that the US is good at overthrowing governments, but has no idea how to replace them. With regard to Iraq and Afghanistan in particular, he argues that the US invaded without a clear and deep understanding of the very complex nature of their societies and regional intricacies. This view also applies to America's Vietnam fiasco.

Secondly, the United States was unable to find a reliable and effective partner in the occupied countries. This was the case in South Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Every leader and government that the United States supported in these countries turned out to be incompetent puppets, unpopular with the people and unable to maintain national unity.

Third, the US has failed to justify its incursions by delivering on initial promises that were plentifully given out to local peoples, not to mention its own electorate. Disappointment in the occupied countries and in the United States contributed to the undermining of the war effort, especially when the campaigns took on such a lengthy character.

Fourth, Washington has learned little from its past experience: it is ill-equipped and ill-equipped to deal with local insurgents, who are showing resilience, gradually exhausting the United States.

All of these points provide an answer to the question of why the American adventure in Afghanistan ultimately failed.

- the author notes.

As he points out, in just the course of the Afghan campaign, the United States and its allies lost 3502 troops (2300 of them American) and $ 2 trillion. More than 100 casualties among the Afghan people, not to mention the material consequences.

All promises to turn Afghanistan into a stable, secure, prosperous democracy now sound sarcastic. The US and its allies will leave behind a shattered Afghanistan, just as the US left South Vietnam and Iraq.

- the author concludes.

Photos used:
US Department of Defense website

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  1. anjey
    anjey April 22 2021 03: 48
    But they performed other, shadow functions - they spawned terrorism, created a threat to the whole of Asia, expanded and took control of drug trafficking with financial flows, so that the United States has everything like that iceberg, some goals are a screen, others are shadow ones.
    1. anjey
      anjey April 22 2021 04: 06
      USA is the Two-Faced Jaanus in all its activities on the planet laughing
      1. Vladimir_2U
        Vladimir_2U April 22 2021 04: 14
        Quote: anjey
        USA is two-faced Jaanus throughout

        They have two-faced anus, they shit only everywhere.
        1. anjey
          anjey April 22 2021 04: 21
          My acronym for the same opinion laughing
        2. Souchastnik
          Souchastnik April 22 2021 10: 26
          Anus two-faced they

          Then not two-faced, but two-lobe, two-bakery, or whatever ...
      2. Olgovich
        Olgovich April 22 2021 07: 05
        Quote: anjey
        USA is the Two-Faced Jaanus in all its activities on the planet laughing

        it's not just the United States.

        Afghanistan still none could not conquer, even England fooled.

        and these self-confident shtatovskie kosla climbed, as always, at random and got a protracted war.

        Their history teaches nothing ...
        1. Sergey Aleksandrovich
          Sergey Aleksandrovich April 22 2021 08: 58
          No one was able to conquer, because no one was going to conquer.
        2. Darkspy
          Darkspy April 22 2021 09: 00
          This is a myth that Afghanistan cannot be conquered. Genghis Khan did it, destroyed the entire population, poisoned wells, etc. The Americans did not set themselves such a goal. If they wanted to, they could use biological, chemical. Now there is more of it than under Genghis Khan.
          1. Olgovich
            Olgovich April 22 2021 09: 20
            Quote: DarkSpy
            It is a myth that Afghanistan cannot be conquered. Genghis Khan did it,

            only there was NO Afghanistan then ...
            1. stariy
              stariy April 22 2021 20: 27
              Quote: Olgovich
              only there was NO Afghanistan then ...

              And what did the Macedonian conqueror then?
        3. Incvizitor
          Incvizitor April 22 2021 10: 29
          They have a history by the standards of normal countries as one day.
  2. Lech from Android.
    Lech from Android. April 22 2021 03: 51
    How strange it turns out what the most powerful army in the world cannot cope with the resistance of the people of Afghanistan.
    Well, Afghanistan does not accept American-style democracy.
    The Taliban are fighting the US according to their own rules and reject the war that the US military is trying to impose on them.
    In this field, the Americans will inevitably lose.
    Biden, in spite of the army, wants to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.
    Apparently the risks and costs of the Afghan campaign have exceeded acceptable limits and have ceased to be profitable.
  3. dauria
    dauria April 22 2021 04: 09
    The first is Washington's inability to grasp the complexity of the country it invaded,

    Afghan is an unusual country. In Europe, it is simple - captured Paris or Berlin, stuck the flag, signed a surrender - and all the military and civilians obeyed (well, with rare exceptions). In Afghanistan, even without capture, none of the appanage princes listened to the Kabul authorities. So, peaceful coexistence. You do not meddle with us, we do not disturb you. There are no railways, the cat wept for automobiles. Transferring even government troops is an impossible task. Moreover, the tribes themselves - even the languages ​​are different. And most importantly, they are able to survive on their own. They don't need anything from the capital. No police, no investments, no jobs and pensions, not even border guards with customs.
    And then the "civilized" ones come ... The British already three times, ours, now the Americans. Well, they planted a flag in Kabul. So what is next ? It seems like the end of the war, but it turns out only the beginning. And these princelings are like uncut dogs, they don't listen to each other, let alone someone in Kabul - but they don't care.
    So it turns out, they conquered the country ... But lo and behold - it still does not exist as a single controlled organism.
    1. DIM (a)
      DIM (a) April 23 2021 01: 25
      Here, of course, it is worth attracting a specialist in the Central Asian region ... but it seems to me that the USSR did the right thing, trying to unite the country in the first place, creating an infrastructure, an education system, a common energy and, in general, a peaceful life together.
      1. Pete mitchell
        Pete mitchell April 25 2021 22: 15
        Quote: DIM (a)
        It seems to me that the USSR did the right thing, trying to unite the country in the first place, creating an infrastructure, an education system ...

        Believe it or not, the Americans tried to act in the same way ... but faced total corruption and did not understand ...
    2. certero
      certero April 25 2021 17: 00
      Quote: dauria
      Europe is simple - captured Paris or Berlin,

      If the same forces were involved against Afghanistan that were required to capture Berlin, then there would be complete peace and quiet in Afghanistan.
  4. rotmistr60
    rotmistr60 April 22 2021 04: 51
    "Why the US is losing wars"
    Indeed, why did a country perfectly equipped with modern weapons only learn to quickly invade other countries, but at the same time was unable to win? Probably, to defeat technical superiority alone is not enough. It also requires the resilience of a simple soldier, an understanding of what he is fighting for (except money). It's one thing to bomb everything that moves, launch Tomahawks, but it's another matter to really, and not to fight cinematographically. As soon as the Americans receive some kind of resistance, and even worse a guerrilla war, so the fighting fervor disappears, they close on their bases protecting themselves loved ones.
    1. unhappy
      unhappy April 22 2021 07: 10
      Lack of technical superiority.
      They expect what will be like in Hollywood films, only there are no terminator robots, but there are "penguins" who receive salaries, a woman with a child is waiting for them at home.
      Seriously, the laws of war must operate in a war and the results will be. Inhumane? The enemy should be spoken to in his language, which he understands. Even the stupidest prince or candidate for this position must clearly understand that he and his loved ones will be destroyed without hesitation if he only looks askance at "polite people" - then there will be peace. Of course, loyal ones should be encouraged. You can compare the methods of the first and the second Chechen.
      By the way, I read the opinion of knowledgeable people that with the modern technical capabilities of reconnaissance and observation, the partisan movement is doomed, but it will take time and effort, but they will calculate everyone.
    2. Polite Moose
      Polite Moose April 22 2021 08: 12
      Quote: rotmistr60
      Indeed, why did a country perfectly equipped with modern weapons only learn to quickly invade other countries, but at the same time was unable to win?

      Victory is the achievement of the set goals at the cost of certain efforts, expended funds, etc. To say whether or not they achieve victory is possible only by understanding what goals they were pursuing. If you look from our bell tower, then victory is the liberation of the oppressed peoples, the defeat of the aggressor, the restoration of the state system in the liberated state, the rise of the economy there, field kitchens for the local population, the delivery of humanitarian aid, etc. Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Syria - they were simply turned into Mordor, slowing down their development for a long time, hiding behind the noble goals of fighting international terrorism and drug trafficking. So, can everything that the dogs have done in these countries be considered their victory, if the goal was to create chaos far from American borders and the formation of states without statehood?
    3. Souchastnik
      Souchastnik April 22 2021 10: 33
      so the fighting fervor disappears, they close at their bases protecting themselves loved ones

      To win is, most likely, not to occupy territory, but to subordinate to your will, to force you to live and act according to your own rules. And this is a big problem. Not only do not everyone like the American rules, there are not many who want to obey any rules at all.
  5. Thrifty
    Thrifty April 22 2021 05: 40
    Do they even draw conclusions from their defeats? And then, if you look at the video, they treat the war like a show, they gathered in a crowd, good targets, they shot from a remote module, threw bombs, obviously into an empty space, and chewing gum went on, under heavy protection.
  6. knn54
    knn54 April 22 2021 06: 17
    First, the losses of the Yankees are clearly greater because they do not take into account PMCs.
    The second is the reliance on local "kings". Some governors have their own armies in terms of number and armament not much inferior to the Armed Forces of the central government of Afghanistan. They perceive flirting and bribery as weakness / dependence on themselves.
    And most importantly, ignoring local traditions.
    And as Alexei rightly said, Afghanistan, and Libya are artificial formations.
    The USSR and the USA made global mistakes — from feudalism to socialism or capitalism, respectively.
    ALWAYS after the invasion of the Yankees and Co., Islam gives way to fundamental Islamism.
    1. tralflot1832
      tralflot1832 April 22 2021 07: 11
      The loss of the US PMC in Afghanistan in October 19, 3814 mercenaries, there were only 1,5 American soldiers per PMKashnik in the ranks. The numbers speak for themselves who pulled the strap of the guerrilla war. for accidents or fire impact. They love to stuff a transport helicopter. The main losses of the forces of the kaolitsy are 2009 -2011, after which they sat down at the bases, and untied the Taliban's hands. As a result, it came to negotiations with them.
  7. Dimy4
    Dimy4 April 22 2021 07: 27
    The USSR did not lose the war in Afghanistan.
    1. SovAr238A
      SovAr238A April 22 2021 08: 07
      Quote: Dimy4
      The USSR did not lose the war in Afghanistan.

      What has changed in Afghanistan after the introduction of Soviet troops?
      And even more so, especially after the withdrawal of troops?

      The Soviet Union simply left Afghanistan realizing the complete futility of being there.
      No construction of roads, schools, hospitals has changed the Afghans.
      As they were a completely decentralized bunch of tribes, they stayed with it.
      For them this state - according to their mentality and way of life - well, in general, "it didn't fit anywhere."

      And all schools and hospitals simply and quickly closed.
      And everything returned to square one.

      Now the situation is the same with the Americos.
      All the same.

      And not only that, I knew a military doctor who had served in Afghanistan for 2 years - he ardently convinced me that the people of Afghanistan had not changed in anything in 100 years. He read the memoirs of some English missionary doctor who lived in Afghanistan for 20 years in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His words literally: "What I read in the 100-year-old book, I see it in reality in 82.
      Nothing changed.
      1. Blacksmith 55
        Blacksmith 55 April 22 2021 09: 17
        The USA, China, Pakistan and other states fought against the USSR in Afghanistan.
        It is not known how it would have ended if the named countries had not intervened in the conflict.
        America and its allies now have no adversaries other than the Afghan people themselves.
      2. meandr51
        meandr51 April 22 2021 17: 54
        Wise people. All the advanced ones will die, but the Afghans will remain.
      3. DIM (a)
        DIM (a) April 23 2021 01: 32
        It's certainly gloomy here ... sad
        But maybe, if the Great Britons had not begun to trample them ... The people of Afghanistan would not have crawled into feudalism or even deeper, into which the empire plunged them from the islands ... (
  8. rocket757
    rocket757 April 22 2021 07: 54
    "Why the US is losing wars": the West understands the reasons for the defeat in Afghanistan
    Lost, gone, and then what remains after their intervention?
  9. TermNachTer
    TermNachTer April 22 2021 08: 41
    Who is interested in the reputational and other losses of Washington and NATO, when some guys made billions on Afghan opium?))))
  10. iouris
    iouris April 22 2021 10: 57
    The US benefits from wars.
  11. APASUS
    APASUS April 22 2021 11: 48
    All promises to turn Afghanistan into a stable, secure, prosperous democracy now sound sarcastic.

    And how much has the Americans invested in Afghanistan, in roads, hospitals, bridges, education, how many factories have been built for the local population, how many fields have been sown with corn, and this is where the fun begins ................. . supplying tanks the world turns out to be impossible to build!
    1. Israel
      Israel April 23 2021 08: 58
      Believe it or not, a huge amount of money has been invested, sometimes even planes with cash flew in, but everything was not in the horse's forage. Americans are no more stupid than others and know what they have done with Japan, South Korea, and even with the same China and in Iraq and Afghanistan they tried to do the same. But this is a different world, here the traditional approach with the army and investments does not work.
      1. APASUS
        APASUS April 23 2021 09: 10
        Quote: Israel
        Believe it or not, a huge amount of money has been invested, sometimes even planes with cash flew in, but everything was not in the horse's forage. Americans are no more stupid than others

        Come on, tell me. The material quite clearly describes the mistakes of the Americans and their approach to business. They built a high-speed four-lane highway Kabul-Kandahar according to American standards, and who needs it in a country living in the Stone Age. And so the approach in many respects. All cash transported by airplanes. , just went to bribe local officials and field commanders. People do not learn mentality, do not know national and religious characteristics, do not work with the population, live their own ideas about the world. I can list and enumerate.
        1. Israel
          Israel April 23 2021 09: 32
          So it’s the same with Soviet schools and hospitals, they also turned out to be useless for a country living well not in the Stone Age, but in the dense Middle Ages and not wanting to get out of it.
  12. Pavel57
    Pavel57 April 22 2021 13: 24
    The British broke off in Afghanistan. By the way, Dr. Watson is an "Afghan"
  13. Igor Odessa
    Igor Odessa April 22 2021 14: 58
    I especially "liked it": "a more careful choice of the goal of the intervention."
  14. TerraSandera
    TerraSandera April 22 2021 17: 06
    They didn’t lose, it’s just that this “asset” has no value anymore. If you abandon it, while redirecting mass forces to other states, including the Russian Federation, you can create many problems. That's why they throw it. A classic win would not be beneficial. They do not fight "for all that is good, against all that is bad." You cannot compare this with Vietnam or Iraq.
  15. shinobi
    shinobi April 23 2021 12: 53
    The USSR was defeated? Yes, nuu! The tasks of establishing the pro-Soviet regime were completed? Completed! Which, by the way, survived the USSR itself. Did they keep control over the country? Japan has nothing in the asset. And even then, do not gouge the alliance in the 45th Kwantung army, it is not yet known how the matter would have ended.
  16. Russian defense
    Russian defense April 23 2021 16: 33
    Apparently the point is that the task was not of the triumph of democracy in a particular region, but quite utilitarian - making a profit from very specific actions. And, lo and behold, during the presence of ISAF in the region, the acreage of opium crops in Afghanistan has grown a hundred times, and the production of heroin - forty times. Just a year after the start of Enduring Freedom, raw opium production in Afghanistan has grown by 1400 percent. Before the invasion, laboratory production was located in Pakistan, and with the "arrival of democracy" in Afghanistan, a closed cycle with an industrial scale was established.
  17. Taranov Denis
    Taranov Denis April 25 2021 13: 57
    Even in antiquity, they said: it is easy to seize a country, it is difficult to keep it.
  18. TermNachTer
    TermNachTer April 26 2021 19: 36
    And who said that the United States won the Second World War (First)?))) They were among the winners, but their contribution to the victory was more economic and scientific than military. So if mattress toppers won the war, then only from Mexico)))
  19. Evgeny Seleznev
    Evgeny Seleznev April 27 2021 22: 08
    Everything is okay. The USSR also achieved a lot in Afghanistan, the French in Africa and Indochina. So all countries have no luck in the occupied territories.