The fall of Kabul to the scourge of the Taliban is not only a catastrophic humiliation for the United States that almost perfectly mirrors the great skedaddle from the rooftops of the US embassy in Saigon half a century ago; not only an abysmal reflection of a failed American policy to make a silk purse (liberal democracy) out of a sow’s ear (a feudal and warring wilderness that once gave us the apple); but it also hands back the entire regional headache to the local Powers, including China and Russia. Let us see how they cope.
For the first time since 9/11, Afghanistan will determine its own foreign policy in fundamentalist Islamic fashion. And the establishment Russian press, namely Nezavisimaya gazeta, thinks there is good reason to worry, and not just for the Russians, whose immediate neighbours border Afghanistan, but also for China, which hopes to buy off the Taliban and thereby relieve its domestic problem of the Moslem Uighur minority.
The warning issued by the editorial board at Nezavisimaya gazeta could scarcely be more explicit: “The Taliban are people with a revolutionary mindset. And any revolutionary is potentially the exporter of his ideological product. The internet has brought the world very close together. It is enough for Islamic radicals to found their emirate at any point of the world for that to immediately inspire their brothers who think alike everywhere else. The exportation of radicalism across actual frontiers is a danger. No less of a danger is its exportation through that space joined together by the media.”