The Afghan government could fall quickly

UPDATE July 21, 2021


Eric Schmitt, “U.S. military official says a ‘complete Taliban takeover’ is possible in Afghanistan,” New York Times, July 21, 2021 (4:20 p.m. ET).

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley, at a Pentagon news conference on July 21, 2021, suggested that the Taliban might take over Afghanistan, confirming reports of their gains on the ground.

Schmitt reports:

“‘There’s a possibility of a complete Taliban takeover, or the possibility of any number of other scenarios,” General Milley said. “I don’t think the end game is yet written.”

“The Taliban have taken control of more than 210 of Afghanistan’s roughly 420 districts in recent months, General Milley told reporters at a Pentagon news conference. They are also pressuring half of the country’s 34 provincial centers and are aiming to isolate Kabul and other major cities, he said.”1

This development is a tragedy foretold, by virtually all of the military and civilian experts on Afghanistan who have been free to speak or make their views known.

For President Joe Biden, the Taliban advances represent a looming foreign policy catastrophe, borne of a stubbornness and a callousness which could well cost him and the Democrats dearly in future elections.


1) “Biden’s looming foreign policy catastrophe in Afghanistan,” The Trenchant Observer, March 21, 2021 (revised March 23, 2021); and

2) “Afghanistan: Biden’s Achilles Heel,” The Trenchant Observer,” The Trenchant Observer, March 27, 2021.


Original article
July 5, 2021.


1) Miriam Berger, ” More than 1,000 Afghan soldiers flee into Tajikistan as Taliban extends control, Tajik officials say,” Washington Post, July 5, 2021 (12:44 p.m. EDT). Berger is reporting from Washington D.C., not Kabul, Afghanistan.

2) Agencias (Agencies), “Un millar de militares afganos escapan a Tayikistán en medio del avance de los talibanes; El Gobierno de Dushanbé se abre a instalar campos de refugiados ante una mayor llegada de personas del otro lado de la frontera,” El País, 5 de julio de 2021 (2:47 EDT).

3) “US left Bagram without telling new commander: Afghan officials; Before the Afghan army could take control of airfield, looters ransack barracks and rummage through storage,” Al Jazeera, July 5, 2021.

4) The New York Times claims to publish “all the news that’s fit to print”. Or NOT. As of 6:30 p.m. on July 5, the Times had not reported this story.

The end could come quickly to the democratically-elected government of Afghanistan.

A thousand Afghan military have crossed over into Tajikistan, seeking asylum. They were fleeing the Taliban, who have cut off access to Badakhshan province, including access to the regional center of Konduz in the North. The Washington Post’s Berger reports:

“…Ahmad Javed, a member of Badakhshan’s provincial council, told The Washington Post that the “situation is unfortunately not good.”

“Javed said that all but one of Badakhshan’s 28 districts have fallen into Taliban control while Faizabad, the provincial capital, is surrounded by the Taliban.

“People ‘worry Taliban may enter the city at any moment,’ he said. Afghan reinforcements arrived in Faizabad on Sunday night, he added.

“The Taliban has been rapidly retaking territory across northern Afghanistan, including areas along the 500-mile border with Tajikistan…”

The United States pulled its last large contingent of troops from Afghanistan on Friday. The situation could change very quickly, according to U.S. intelligence assessments. Berger reports:

“U.S. intelligence analysts have warned that the Afghan government could fall swiftly after U.S. troops completely pull out from Afghanistan. President Biden set Sept. 11 as the withdrawal deadline, though hundreds of troops have already departed, and the U.S. military last week handed control of Bagram air base, its most important airfield in Afghanistan, to Afghan forces.”

President Biden’s top advisers and virtually all experts on thw war in Afghanistan warned against withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan. Biden, showing a stubborn streak that could cost Democrats and him future elections, decided he would go ahead with Trump’s troop withdrawal plan agreed to with the Taliban on February 29, 2020.

It looks like Biden, unless he changes course on Afghanistan, will, like Lyndon Johnson, be remembered for his disastrous military and foreign policy decisions, and not for his domestic accomplishments.

Unlike situation in the U.S. in 1968, Biden and the Democrats now face a fascist challenge from the Republican Party, which supports “The Big Lie” that Trump won the 2020 election. Should the Republicans win future elections running on this lie, the very future of democracy in America would come under enormous threat.

In short, the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban could have far-reaching and unexpected consequences.

The Trenchant Observer

About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.