According to all media networks, the Taliban are quickly conquering Afghanistan. The initial reports mentioned US bombings trying to provide cover to the Afghan army. But those bombing were ineffective. In some articles, there are also reports of the Taliban claiming that the bombing only hit civilians.

From a military point of view, it does not make a lot of sense. Twenty years ago, when the USA started the invasion, after an initial wave of bombing the Taliban melted away and the USA quickly took over the country. Since then, drone technology and targeting systems have improved, so the US military has better intelligence data gathering and better precision than 20 years ago, but to much less effect.

At this point I am wondering whether the reason is really military or political. Is there something in the agreement signed between the US Government and the Taliban that allows the current situation?




  • 3
    There seems to be different questions here. One is "Whose side is the US on" (well that is easy enough) The second asks us to speculate on whether there is a secret agreement between the US and the Taliban (If there is, the US isn't telling)
    – James K
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 20:41
  • Tried to make the question sounds more just and acceptable to the community, but the OP insisted on the wrong path, so voted to close.
    – r13
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 22:19
  • @r13 for the nth time I have to repeat that the question does not ask why the troops were withdrawn. This question asks why the "surgical precision" bombs and the infallible drones suddenly are missing their targets.
    – FluidCode
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 22:24
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    @FluidCode they arent "suddenly missing their targets", you have been misled by the media as to how accurate these weapons are. "However, evidence does not support the claim for LGB effectiveness summarized by "one target, one bomb." In one sample of targets from Desert Storm, no fewer than two LGBs were dropped on each target; six or more were dropped on 20 percent of the targets; eight or more were dropped on 15 percent of the targets. The average dropped was four LGBs per target." fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/smart/lgb.htm
    – user16741
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 22:39
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    Contrary to your thinking, after the initial success, bombing and drone technology have been proved ineffective in gorilla war but the significant military presence/operations would result in high causalities of the US military personnel. The US has long lost interest in dragging the fight, so the Trump administration struck a (non-achievable) deal with the Taliban in order for the US to leave yet maintain Afgan in peace. Understandably, it failed again. So the US currently is on nobody's side but itself after both the military defeat and policy/strategy failure.
    – r13
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 22:48

5 Answers 5


The Biden administration is on the side of normalized relations. I imagine they have their preferences about which side comes out on top, but ultimately they view this as an internal struggle that the Afghanis must resolve on their own.

At the end of the day, military success boils down to holding and securing territory, and that can only be accomplished by ground forces. When we invaded Afghanistan, the Taliban faced both air strikes and trained, disciplined, heavily equipped US marines. The air strikes softened resistance and the marines took control of the ground, and that kept the Taliban at bay for the last 20 years. The US tried to build a strong government and effective military in-country, but it seems self-evident that this effort failed. The government's military cannot or will not face the Taliban and hold the territory, so US airstrikes cannot accomplish anything more than slowing the Taliban down.

After 20 years the US had a simple choice:

  • Make the occupation of Afghanistan effectively permanent (like Russia in Crimea, or Israel in the West Bank), with the eventual goal of what? Making Afghanistan a protectorate, or a US territory, or perhaps the 51st US state?
  • Give Afghanistan its sovereignty back and see if the government we established there can stand on its own two feet.

We took the second choice, and it seems likely the government will fail. But unless we want to turn around and commit to endless rulership of the Afghani people, that's as it will be.

  • 5
    U.S. air support can't provide victories to ground forces unwilling or unable to fight (though some Afghan units have fought quite valiantly), and it's been even less valuable as tribal elders negotiate surrenders as the Taliban advance. Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 16:34
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    Nitpick: the downfall of the taliban did not come from the occupation by the marines, the Northern Alliance provided the boys on the ground. Certainly intervention by the USA (both by airstrikes and raids) was decisive, but there was no invasion in the usual sense. The failure of the Northern Alliance at managing its victory forced the USA to an even more direct intervention.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 18:32
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    I think the opening sentence is problematic. Does Biden have a mindset and prepared to "normalize" the relationship if the Taliban takes over? If this is truly the diplomatic policy Biden holds dearly, how about North Korea and Iran, and all other countries that the US considered brutality regimes.
    – r13
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 20:44
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    It is not a "failure". It is a rapid collapse.
    – Gray Sheep
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 21:06
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    Not enough to downvote, but I note something that is not correct. "but ultimately they view this as an internal struggle that the Afghanis must resolve on their own." The Taliban include some Afghans, but it is an organisation founded in Pakistan and funded by foreign countries, it is not an internal struggle between Afghanis.
    – FluidCode
    Commented Aug 16, 2021 at 12:15

20 years in, and arguably 15 years too late, the US policy, at this moment, is on the side of not sending more young Americans and uncounted numbers of locals to their death.

In addition, Afghanistan is located in a region where nearly all the countries with significant influence -- Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan -- are united in their desire to get the US to reposition into a more comfortable distance away from each of them.

For various reasons, each of those countries are significantly irritated with US policy. In the case of Pakistan, the US support of India is the driving element, for the others, the irritant is direct. Despite serious conflicts over the details of regional power, in the past 5 years, these countries have finally prioritized this component of their interests, and have begun to work together more effectively to this end.

Under their influence, the smaller countries of the region, in particular Afghanistan neighbors Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, have slowly been swayed into the central asian bloc led by China and Russia. An important element of the change is the drying up of funds that used to flow into the region from Saudi Arabia.

What it all adds up to, is that the deck is now stacked against any US presence. It is a no-win situation. It has already been so for a long time (compare to Iraq, for example), but with the regional power structure lining up into the nascent Russia-China led economic-security paradigm, this spot on the chess board cannot realistically be held any longer.

  • "is on the side of not sending more young Americans ...". But US Military drones are still flying over the country. My question is more about their ability to hit a target rather than about sending soldiers.
    – FluidCode
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 21:56
  • That's been the tactic for the better part of 20 years, and it generated only the most superficial respect, mainly from people already on the payroll. It would seem that the Taliban and their sponsors pulled together a more compelling package deal for the neighboring countries.
    – Pete W
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 22:34
  • Also, if you look at recent developments in drone tech, like in the brief war between Armenia and Azerbaijan just recently, if anything it shifts the balance of power in favor of dispersed forces, and against whoever has larger pieces of hardware.
    – Pete W
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 22:38

Twenty years ago the Taliban had been in power for 7 years and were a normal, static army. Part of the initial US attack involved taking out a Taliban airfield. There was still resistance to them, through the Northern Alliance, even though Massoud had been killed 4-5 months before, on 9/9, I think. People were highly motivated to get rid of them, having suffered through their crimes (though they were never ISIS-level). They were also a regional army, mostly from the Pashtuns in the southeast and not popular with the other Afghans.

2001's Taliban were not a guerrilla army, they were a static government "army". And one that had grown fat on bullying a population that hated them. They weren't even, really, the guys that had taken out the USSR, just some guys that waltzed in to take out the warlords, 2 years after Najibullah had been ousted. Most of all, they were fixed in cities and barracks.

Today's Taliban have had 20 years of evading US airstrikes as hardened guerrillas. The Afghan army they are facing supposedly hasn't been paid for months and suffers recurring switches of its officers from President Ghani's mismanagement.

Whatever is happening is due to Afghan army demotivation, or, as been claimed as well, lack of support by the government (troops not getting supplies and reinforcement). Not through a supposed let-them-take-over-now by the, extremely frustrated at this point, US military.

  • Afghan forces surrender
  • Taliban can either melt away as they've learned to do in the last 20 years, take some human shields, or just remain too close to civilians and opposing Army troops to allow easy aerial targeting, something known as "hugging the enemy" from Stalingrad.
  • The Taliban know that they won't get countered by US ground forces at this point. Expect them to stay well away from foreign nationals as they get evacuated to avoid giving reasons for US and NATO troops to intervene.

A war like this can't be won without (effective) "boots on the ground".

We need to look* at the dynamics of why the ANA either can't fight effectively or chooses not to fight effectively, because on paper they have what it takes to defend much more strongly.

We also need to understand why the Taliban are so effective throughout the country. Normally, theywould be expected to operate best in the southeast, next to Pakistan. Taking over Herat and Mazir-i-Sharif, so quickly, is not a good sign at all. Maybe they pre-distributed troops there, against weaker ANA units. Maybe they just have really become more supported by larger segments of the population everywhere.

Most of all, the US needs to take a long hard look at its bad track record of enabling stable governments that are supported by locals in these instances. Possibly because they mostly pick leaders that say what the US wants to hear, rather than what the population wants to hear.

* "We need to look" might very well end up, "historians will need to look", because this fights looks all but over.


On the side of the US, as always.

Afghanistan campaign cost the US about two trillion dollars, so, Washington decided, that it's enough.

Why bombings cannot solve the problem:

It should be mentioned, that the US have not done some society-building/infrastructure investments (and I cannot imagine why) - like the USSR done in past times. So, government fall in about a month. USSR left after it schools, factories and education. So, government of Najibullah standed for 3 years against western-backed Taliban - because Afghan people fighted for better life, provided by DRA.

I cannot understand why the US not spent those 2 trillions on schools and workplaces. They usually works much better, then bombs - because they give people a chance for better live.

Why bombings are not effective now:

Just because US forces are the only supporting force for the government. As withdrawal progresses, that only support disappears and troops are starting to surrender. Small support of government is a result of a point above - small investments in Afghanistan itself. Not its army - but its people, like USSR did.

Also, I've hit this theme in this answer. Main point - you cannot substitute motivated, confident infantry with air strikes - just because you cannot substitute PEOPLE with technologies! At least now.

So, at last, story repeats: enter image description here

I didn't want to add that picture, but @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica asked me to add: enter image description here

  • 1
    Where is that picture from? Without credits, it is impossible to judge.
    – o.m.
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 11:33
  • @o.m. the pic is legit. see for example aviationanalysis.net/… The BBC had a very similar looking picture to the OPs: same chopper, same building, same angle. Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 3:11
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica, legit or not, people should disclose their source. An modified news photo without credits is worth a downvote. (Besides usually being against the terms of service of Stackexchange.)
    – o.m.
    Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 4:00

The Talibans are conquering Afghanistan. Whose side are the USA on?

The US doesn't care, be it the Taliban or Ghani's government. The US wants them to settle things amongst themselves. And with the government that is there after the negotiations, the US wants assurance on a few things:

  1. The after-negotiation government (a huge chance that it includes the Taliban, partially or completely) and the Taliban won't use its soil to harm the US and its allies, on its own or through others.
  2. The after-negotiation government and the Taliban won't cooperate with any of the groups which threaten the US and its allies, and will prevent anyone wanting to do so.

After negotiation, the US claims not to interfere in internal affairs and seeks economic cooperation.

I see this as a big win for the US and Joe Biden: much less bloodshed and good relations with the after-negotiation government. Killed several birds with one stone. I can see Afghanistan prospering soon. I used to like Mr. Trump more, however, this is one diplomatic move of Mr. Biden's that I foresee having many good results.

I have noticed several positive statements from the Taliban:

  1. Not to interfere with the internal matters of other countries.
  2. Bit of religious tolerance. (Can't find the link, but unlikely.)
  3. Appreciating the capacity development.

Is there something in the agreement signed between the US Government and the Taliban that allows the current situation?

Yes, it's tactfully written. See the agreement (link is provided above) and my old question here.

  • @F1Krazy Edit again. We edited at the same time. Your grammar is lost. Not my mistake, I swear. Please don't lock my post. That was unintentional from my part.
    – Gary 2
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 14:35
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    Wowzie. Even after decades of hearing "the US really won Vietnam", seeing "this is a big win for Joe Biden" hit my wtf cerebral center quite hard. That takes some very special way of thinking to make this claim with a straight face. Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 14:37
  • @Gary2 No worries, it happens. I don't have the power to lock your post anyway.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 14:38
  • Monica I often don't understand what you write. I can't reply please. I have written a good answer.
    – Gary 2
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 14:39
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    @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica lets not forget that the US has an uphill struggle in restoring credibility toward other nations and its commitments after the debacle that was the Trump presidency... If you dont have credibility that agreements will be stuck to on your side, then all you have is military might, and that costs more than diplomacy to wield.
    – user16741
    Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 2:05

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