The waning European faith in the US, as the forces leave Afghanistan

August 31, 2021 6:07 PM

As Afghans try and escape for a better future, there is still no clarity as to what would happen to those who can’t leave the country, those who have visas and/or green cards and still can’t leave Afghanistan and more importantly what should be the next step to manage the imminent humanitarian crisis that the world is staring at presently.

Even in the UK, eighty one per cent of the people believed that the American political system was partially or completely ‘broken’.

By Dr Aparaajita Pandey and Rashi Randev

When Biden won the elections and was set to become the President of the United States, most people across the world welcomed a political shift in the US. However, with the retreat of the US from Afghanistan and the humanitarian crisis that this withdrawal has birthed, the perception of the US in the world especially in Europe has taken a hit. US’ NATO allies, as well as its counterparts in the European Union seem to have lost faith in the US once again after Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan leaving the country to a militant government, in more or less the same situation that the Americans found it in twenty years ago.

As Afghans try and escape for a better future, there is still no clarity as to what would happen to those who can’t leave the country, those who have visas and/or green cards and still can’t leave Afghanistan and more importantly what should be the next step to manage the imminent humanitarian crisis that the world is staring at presently.

The American (US) hasty retreat from Afghanistan is quite reminiscent of all imperial withdrawals by imperial powers historically from their colonial territories often leaving them without a system of administration and in utter and complete chaos. However, Biden’s decision to deny any accountability towards the Afghans who are now forced to live under the Taliban, has not been received well by US’s European counterparts. The EU and NATO allies of the US are now feeling disillusioned with the Biden regime and are comparing it to the regimes of his predecessors.

As EU politicians attempt to make sense of the situation and prepare themselves for the refugee crisis that is imminent, a sense of the history of the Afghan mission being tainted with the American withdrawal has set in. Stelzenmüller, the German analyst on international relations opined that for most European nations, the participation in the Afghan war was about their most legitimate mission and about proving their dedication to NATO. She also said, “What people will overlook is that an entire generation of western practitioners” — including military officers, diplomats, intelligence officials and journalists — “went through Afghanistan”.

While it is tempting to think that the loss in faith in Biden is a knee jerk reaction to his policy on Afghanistan, however on a closer reflection one finds that the European perception of the US is yet to recover from the Trump era. What has often been termed as an ‘aberration’ in politics, the Trump era was particularly difficult for not just for Americans who felt the direct impact of Trump’s policies but also the EU and NATO who lost faith in American leadership.

The Trump regime often commented on the redundancy of NATO and its lack of actual interest in the inner workings of the EU, the coming of Biden, who expressed faith in NATO and seemed eager to mend relations with Europe, seemed like a return to an earlier era of global politics. However, Europeans were very aware of the clear divisions in society and politics that were a consequence of the Trump era.

In a survey conducted by the European Council for Foreign Relations earlier this year in eleven European countries showed that fifty one per cent of the people believed that the US could not overcome its internal divisions and advance issues of global significance, especially that of Europe. Even in the UK, eighty one per cent of the people believed that the American political system was partially or completely ‘broken’.

The election that chose Donald Trump as the President of the United States and a vast support for his policies and his kind of politics, among a section of the American citizens and media has led to most Europeans losing their faith in American voters.

It has also been echoed by their politicians who since then believe that the US is certainly not the kind of world leader it used to be. The US policy regarding Afghanistan has led to bolstering of European fears with regards to the ‘broken’ politics of America. What remains to be seen are the ramifications of the Afghan debacle on NATO and the US – EU relationship.

(Dr Aparaajita Pandey is Asst. Professor at the Department of Public Policy at Amity University, NOIDA and has a PhD from the Centre of Canadian, US, and Latin American Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University.

RashiRandev is a Doctoral Candidate at the Centre of Canadian, US, and Latin American Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online.)

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