SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English
YUN Jae-un ““The Fall of Kabul” – The End of One Era-”
On August 15, Kabul (the capital of Afghanistan) was strike down by Taliban. It showed me “the end of one era” for twenty years, we been watching what was going on there from the media of Europe and America like “CNN”. However, we can share the information now from moment to moment through SNS account of Afghan individuals. It was a change of twenty-years’ time and, at the same time, I feel something unchangeable. “Change” means technical change and “unchangeable” means fragility of political system in Afghanistan. I know Taliban has been expanding their influence rapidly through news reports of Japan and America. However, the collapse of Afghan society was too early. I did not expect drop back of America so early. Kabul has disappeared from our memory imperceptibly and Taliban has got “legitimate” Governing power.
I got into university in 2003. It was “the time of terrorism” back then. Influence of “Afghan-Iraq War” which was resulted from the impact of “9/11 Terrorism” (2001) and retaliation by United States led to South Korea. I was one of person who watched 9/11 terrorism through broadcast live, I was shocked by “the unexpected scene” which was unimaginable. Attack to United States was considered as inevitable and the world supported it. Even North Korea blamed terrorist-group and delivered its statement expressing their condolence for victims. American army has been winning at battlefields which we do not know the name. We thought Taliban would be cleared from Afghanistan soon. It was said as a pretext of the war, that Taliban sheltered Osama bin Laden, a ringleader of terrorism. But American army could not attain their object all the way to the end. (He was arrested in Pakistan neighboring country.)
It was the year 2003 when American army has invaded Iraq on the pretext of allegation “WMD” (Weapons of Mass Destruction). At that time so-called “the power of students movement” at universities in South Korea was immense. We came across banners in campus which were against Iraq War. Public opinion in South Korea has been supporting American military operation so far. But there were pros and cons arguments against Iraq War because they could not find any justification in it. And the War was drawn into a quagmire despite American President George Bush had declared “the End of the War” in May 2003. When I look back, I had different viewpoint on the War although I was against the War. It was the time of my military service of two years and three months since 2005.
The Government of South Korea have been worrying whether they should dispatch their troops at American request. There were repeated demonstrations which were against dispatch. The feelings in South Korea became worse gradually against the United States and there were a lot of criticism against the Bush Administration. Not only progressive citizens’ group but a lot of people also had feeling of rejection against American “Unilateralism”. Even after the decision of large-scale dispatching of army, controversy changed to “where is the place which is safer?” Incidentally there was a similar argument in Japan. They carried their argument in more tranquil atmosphere than South Korea. It may be a cause that Japan had abduction issue by North Korea. I skip the detail.
It was the time when the War turned into a quagmire that “My Daily History” came across Iraq War. Notification of “Recruiting of soldiers to Iraq” was propagated in whole army. It was for army basically, but air force was planned too. Average salary at that time was 10,000 yen a month and our thinking “We can get tens of times money” became as it was topic among soldiers. If we go to Iraq, we can get $2,000 a month. In a mail-magazine of Intra-net of army, the photos “Soldiers who live with inhabitants happily” were published often. I did not apply. But the War became close to me. Afterwards, North Korea carried out nuclear testing first (October 2006) and “security situation” at that time became “My issue”. Because of this, I am interested in the era around that time scholarly.
Stabilization in Afghanistan and Iraq seems failure in end. In Iraq, so-called “ISIS” (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) cannot be said to be stabilized. The fall of Kabul and disastrous accident at airport were its symbol. United States have made military assistance for Iraq and Afghanistan financially and technically for the purpose of their reconstruction and democratization. But I think evaluation of the Afghan War is not high in America now.
After the fall of Kabul, I was impressed personally with a speech by Ms. Barbara Lee, Democratic Party Congresswoman as one of the domestic movements in America. She disagreed with the Afghan War all the way to the end. She insisted “we cannot prevent further terrorism by military operations” and “somebody have to appeal suppression of terrorism at any decisions concerning bills”. But the decision was passed at 98 to 0 at the Upper House and 420 to 0 at the Lower House. Despite of this result, her adverse opinion has remained as “precepts or negative example” even now, twenty years after.
This “twenty years” seems to me quite short to lead to “a change”. Even in South Korea and Taiwan, both are simple racial composition nations, they took more than forty years to get democratization after dictatorial system in cold war era. If there would be any changes, it would be a decrease of “patience” of United States. It is “the end of one era”.
SGRA Kawaraban 689 in Japanese (Original)
YUN Jae-un /2020 Raccoon, Specially Appointed Lecturer at Hitotsubashi University
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Sabina Koirala