After several months of the word “insurrection” being thrown around carelessly we can thank the Taliban for reminding us that words have meanings. Footage from Kabul has been deeply shocking to many Americans, who are finally presented with scenes from a real conflict after more than half a year of seeing increasingly hyperbolic terms used to describe one brief protest. The tense situation on the ground in Kabul has continued to evolve throughout the week.
Real insurrection in Afghanistan
The self-centered mainstream media in America might have forgotten what a real insurrection is but the people of Afghanistan have never been allowed to forget it.
When the Taliban regime was defeated in 2001 they retreated to the remote mountains and valleys of Afghanistan and regrouped as a powerful insurgency.
After two decades of bombings, shootings, and instability the Taliban struck back with shocking speed before the NATO withdrawal had even been completed, taking almost all of Afghanistan in a matter of days.
This was an insurrection; meticulously planned and organized, the success of the Taliban offensive emerged from years of constant fighting which wore down the will of the opposition to continue the fight.
Americans were shocked to see a large and powerful army which they had spent nearly twenty years training and equipping largely give up without a fight as soon as Taliban fighters approached their positions.
Only a month ago President Biden denied that there was any possibility of a repeat of the Fall of Saigon and the desperate masses of people clambering to escape with American help.
— Ali Özkök (@Ozkok_A) August 16, 2021
Desperation in Kabul
While American politicians speak of insurrection here, Afghans continue to flood Hamid Karzai International Airport, the last outpost of NATO power in the country and the only way out for thousands of people hoping to escape from the Taliban.
Widely seen footage of earlier chaos at the airport showed mobs of Afghan men clinging to the sides of departing American jets. Several men fell to their deaths after attempting to hold on after takeoff.
The situation at the airport now appears to be less chaotic, though there is still no shortage of tension. There are still thousands of Americans reportedly trapped in the country, surprised like their government was by the speed with which an insurrection became a new government.
In a bizarre and volatile situation American and British troops at the airport are now in some cases positioned within feet of Taliban fighters; for now both sides are cooperating to keep the mobs of desperate civilians under control while the evacuation continues.
If the new Taliban regime was not so determined to present itself as a legitimate government then there might be carnage at the airport and in the streets of Kabul.
If the scenes of desperation and panic in Afghanistan are already sobering for the rest of the world, it should be remembered that the situation is almost unbelievably calm compared to what many would expect a military takeover by the Taliban to result in.