EDITORIAL - A tale of two presidents

The Freeman
EDITORIAL - A tale of two presidents

A year after the Taliban took over Kabul again practically without firing a shot, journalists interviewed former Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani. Now living in Abu Dhabi, Ghani told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria that he left because he didn’t want to give the Taliban the chance to humiliate him.

"The reason I left was because I did not want to give the Taliban and their supporters the pleasure of yet again humiliating an Afghan president and making him sign over the legitimacy of the government," Ghani said.

Ghani actually had more reason to be worried. After the Taliban rose to power in 1992, they tortured, castrated, and killed former Afghan president Mohammad Najibullah before dragging his body through the streets of Kabul.

However, as president of the republic sworn to protect its sovereignty, Ghani should have at least mounted a defense of the country’s capital, which is exactly what Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky is doing now.

Zelensky actually faced the same thing Ghani did; a seemingly overwhelming war machine gobbling up parts of the country and slowly making its way to the capital. But instead of leaving the capital defenseless and running away, Zelensky didn’t flee the country and decided to stay to rally his troops, even with the numerous offers to evacuate himself and his family available.

Ghani should have done as Zelensky did which is to stay and fight. Or at least rally the troops in defense of what is left of the country if he is not fit to engage in direct battle.

Of course, many would say it is easy for us to say what Ghani should have done, it was not our neck --as well as our other body parts-- on the line. However, Ghani took an oath to defend the sovereignty of Afghanistan when he became president, it was something he should have done.

One reason why Zelensky continues to get crucial aid and support from outside the country is because he decided to stay and fight. While we cannot say with certainty that foreign aid and support would have come for Ghani had he done the same, Ghani’s actions showed that he was not even willing to take that chance.

Yes, we admit that in his leaving the capital defenseless and allowing the Taliban to take over without a shot, Ghani’s avoided a battle that would have left thousands dead or wounded and left Kabul a smoking ruin. But can we really say that Kabul is better off with the Taliban again oppressing minorities, women, and providing sanctuary to terrorists?

In leaving Afghanistan in the lurch when he did, Ghani showed that he felt the country was not worth fighting for. And that spoke volumes to everyone watching.


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