I finished latest book, The Great Delusion, by John Mearsheimer recently. I will review it later, it is not that important to do it now, I have to say, that while being sympathetic to the so called Realism in general, and some points Mearsheimer makes in this his treatise, it seems that he himself still resides in a delusion. Mearsheimer repeats, with conviction, some beaten to death cliches of American exceptionalism, such as the myth of "liberalism defeating Fascism",
|Liberalism "defeating" Fascism
or stressing Soviet Union's "humiliating defeat in Afghanistan". Unlike Mearsheimer, who has very little knowledge of Russia, Colonel Lester Grau long ago addressed this issue. Unlike Merasheimer, who, despite his USMA West Point background, is a political "scientist", Grau is an authority on Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan. I will repeat his conclusions yet again:
"There is a literature and a common perception that the Soviets were defeated and driven from Afghanistan. This is not true. When the Soviets left Afghanistan in 1989, they did so in a coordinated, deliberate, professional manner, leaving behind a functioning government, an improved military and an advisory and economic effort insuring the continued viability of the government. The withdrawal was based on a coordinated diplomatic, economic and military plan permitting Soviet forces to withdraw in good order and the Afghan government to survive. The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA)managed to hold on despite the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Only then, with the loss of Soviet support and the increased efforts by the Mujahideen (holy warriors) and Pakistan, did the DRA slide toward defeat in April 1992. The Soviet effort to withdraw in good order was well executed and can serve as a model for other disengagements from similar nations."
In what can only be described as an empirical middle finger to Mearsheimer's assertion about "humiliating defeat" (and I get it where he comes from in his assertion, but about this later), we get today these news. You don't need to read Russian, just go directly to CNN video embedded in article (which is a transcript of the video) and listen.
Defeated, especially "humiliatingly", nations do not host in their capitals meetings of parties involved in the war in which the host supposedly was defeated. Obviously, even after this "humiliating defeat", Russia continued to exert an immense influence on Afghanistan both indirectly and directly, including, of course, arming Northern Alliance. "Humiliatingly defeated" nations do not behave like that. I will omit here the whole issue of Taliban being officially declared (in 2003) in Russia a terrorist organization, but times and things change. As in Syria, where Russia was forced to clean a mess created by NATO (US), Russia will have to make arrangements in Afghanistan. After all, we know by now how ISIS was defeated in Syria.
The United States has been in Afghanistan for 17 years--with zero results to show for it while redefining military common sense (and science) in terms of victory being "just staying there", and, of course, having a good PR machine, which can spin a defeat into victory. This is not how Russia works and that is what parties in Afghanistan know. The prime task is to prevent ISIS from reconstituting itself as a major player in Afghanistan. If it takes Taliban to help deal with this scourge--so be it, let's talk. In the end, the fate of a huge region is at stake, including Russia's "soft underbelly". And here we come to this "realism" thing; while I still would recommend a book by Mearsheimer to be read, it is really about time that many (not all) American "realists" followed Mearsheimer's advise and stopped living in delusion, no, not the liberal one, a "realist" one, and finally face geopolitical reality of a tectonic shift in power balance in the world in which real realism, capable to operate with tangibles, not simulacra, triumphed. In the end, one has to operate with reliable data, not propaganda cliches. Victory in war is defined by attaining war's political objectives. We know how that goes for the US lately.