onsdag 8. september 2021

Afghanistan withdrawal has Taiwan pondering its alliance with the US – and China is upping the pressure

The chaotic withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan has sparked concerns among its allies about the credibility of commitments to its strategic allies. It has been popular to compare the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan with Saigon in 1975, but this has generated some debate among scholars of US foreign policy.

Harvard’s Stephen M Walt noted in Foreign Policy magazine, what has happened in Afghanistan is “tragic but it’s not a strategic disaster”. From a historical perspective, he wrote, the US retreat from Saigon was similarly not a strategic disaster in that it did not lead to the collapse of NATO. Nor did it force American allies in Asia into the Soviet or Chinese spheres of influence. Nor did the chaotic end to the Vietnam War cause the US client states in the Middle East reevaluate their relationships with Washington.

By contrast, Francis Fukuyama has pointed out in The Economist that the desperate escape of the Afghans from Kabul is a strategic misstep which signifies the end of US global hegemony. He believes that this is as much determined by domestic challenges – such as the severe polarisation of American society at the end of the Trump presidency – as by any global power shifts.