No, it is not about the beautiful and famous central novel of Alexandre Dumas' trilogy on the three musketeers, but to understand what has changed since that sad September 11, 2001, when the United States also suddenly and dramatically realized that they could be affected by terrorism. jihadi.
Much has been said and written about what happened during the planning and conduct of the attack and the reasons that allowed it to succeed, and the informal debate is still ongoing. What this article aims to do is to highlight what has changed since then in the fight against terrorism jihadi and illustrate the geopolitical repercussions of the new Afghan crisis, deriving from the end of the Western presence.
Indeed, the events of 11 September represented an enormous tragedy but also a turning point for the strategies of terrorist groups, for global geopolitical relations and for the international system that guides them. But not only. That tragedy also deeply touched each of us, making us understand, once more, our extreme fragility.
The coldness with which i jiahdists they perform their heinous acts, in fact, it demonstrates their total indifference to human life. A ferocity that, even in these days of great confusion in Afghanistan, has hit US soldiers who were trying to return to their homeland and Afghan civilians who were asking only to escape from the violence steeped in religious fanaticism.
In this context, the new Afghan crisis, triggered by the rather disordered withdrawal of the US military forces, has raised fears that that battered territory could once again represent a secure base for terrorists and, therefore, once again become a threat to the rest. of the world.
What has been done
The terrorist attacks of 2001 swept through major international and regional organizations, such as the United Nations, the European Union and NATO, which made the fight against terrorism a priority in their respective agendas. Parallel to the political-military intervention on the Afghan territory, there has therefore been an effervescence of initiatives also on the legal level, providing or updating the reference framework, to allow investigators to combat the phenomenon also on the investigative level.
On 28 September 2001 the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution no. 1373 (2001), which has significant implications not only for the wide range of action required, but also because for the first time it has been interested in areas traditionally reserved for states. In addition, the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC), formed by the 15 members who make up the Security Council. The CTC makes use of a technical body of experts called Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate. On the basis of this first fundamental act, other measures have been approved, such as the global counter-terrorism strategy, the recalls on the the need to prevent the freedom of movement of terrorists, through a more accurate control of personal documents both at borders and within States, and on the need to increase initiatives to break the links between terrorists and transnational organized crime as a form of terrorist financing.
In fact, the 2001 attack was not only military, but also had singular and important financial aspects connected to it. In addition to the immediate and medium-long term financial repercussions, in fact, in the course of the analyzes following the attack it was discovered that there was a disturbing downward speculation a few days before 11 September 2001, especially with regard to shipping companies air and insurance. This has led to the hypothesis of the existence of ramifications that those who knew of the imminence of the attack have probably used to carry out these operations, using reputable Western banks. It was therefore not only a question of fanatic terrorists but also of cold calculators and skilled financiers with the availability of worrying connections with important Western circles.
The European Union, on the other hand, has demonstrated the usual incapacity for an immediate and unitary response. Only on 7 October 2004 in Berlin, with the intervention of the European High Representative for Common Defense and Security Policy, the Spanish Javier Solana, did the European Union finally acknowledge that it had to actively face the terrorist threat and, from at that time, the regulatory activity on the subject was quite abundant, with provisions essentially geared towards the harmonization of national systems for the fight against terrorism, crime and the coordination of prevention, control and repression actions. This has led, among others, the insertion of anthropometric data in the EU passports, the establishment of the FRONTEX agency, the identification of European critical infrastructures, the establishment of the European arrest warrant. Finally, from July 2015, the Internet Referral Unit (EU-IRU), a resource of the European Counter Terrorism Center (ECTC), in turn based in EUROPOL, which aims to counteract diffusion online of material with a terrorist and radicalizing content.
After September 11th Italy responded promptly to the terrorist threat. Also making use of the experiences acquired in the fight against organized crime and terrorism in the 70s, our country quickly adapted its legislative apparatus, achieving results whose importance was unanimously recognized.
The main innovations concerned theextension of the system of preventive and judicial wiretapping to crimes with the aim of international terrorism, as well as the approval of regulations that already made it possible in specific sectors (combating drug trafficking, money laundering, illegal immigration, etc.) the delay of orders for arrest, arrest, seizure, house searches and covert operations.
However, given our country's exposure to possible terrorist penetrations (presence of borders outside the EU and high immigration, even clandestine), the legislator is always looking for additional tools and procedures, intended to make planning and management more difficult. conduct of violent actions against the population or against the main infrastructures of the state,
In the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks, the NATO he invoked, for the first time in the history of the Alliance, the application of art. 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, placing it in relation to art. 51 of the United Nations Charter. However, in this first phase the United States preferred to operate on its own, without the constraints of political control and strategic direction of NATO structures. It was only later that the participation of other countries and, in 2003, the leadership of the operation itself by NATO was hoped for. During the Prague Summit (November 21, 2002) it then approved the new one military concept for defense against terrorism, with which the Alliance has provided essential conceptual support for collective military interventions and intervention in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan after twenty years
Afghanistan has always found itself at the center of a disputed space between large and medium-sized powers, which have caused conflicts on its territory. England and Russia in the nineteenth century, engaged in colonial policies. United States and the Soviet Union in the twentieth century. Iran and Saudi Arabia in search of hegemonic influence in the area, while Pakistan and India to exclude each other. So that the internal Afghan conflict, supported by external rivalries, was also reflected in the perpetual clash in Kashmir between India and Pakistan, while Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, represented by Afghan minorities, were also indirectly involved. All these state entities have been joined in recent years by Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State and, in contrast, NATO and its members, who landed in Afghanistan after 11 September 2001.
From a social point of view, the country sees numerous ethnic divisions (Pashtun, Tajik, Uzbek, Turkmen, Nuristani, Beluchi, Brahui, Hazara, Wakhi, Farsiwan) and religious (85% Sunni, 10% Shiite, remaining minority of Christians, Buddhists, Parsis, Sikhs and Hindus), who create a fragmented society, where pre-Islamic traditions prevail over expectations of progress, essentially feared by the elderly because it would destroy references to the clan and its rules. The ethnic fragmentation in the past was also reflected in the state configuration, with a king more representative than reigning, with various local lords with their own militias and a semblance of centralized public administration.
After twenty years of foreign presence, Afghanistan is still very poor and without infrastructure, nor has it developed a reliable administration capable of managing the territory. The germ of national political authority, confined almost to Kabul alone, has dissolved faster than the snow in the sun, like its Armed Forces, probably because Afghans are more inclined to guerrilla freedom than to army rules and because they were established without taking into account the different ethnic groups present in the area. This has certainly not favored cohesion, a sense of belonging and a spirit of body and sacrifice. But this failure was probably also greatly influenced by the conduct of the US, which he handled the talks with the Taliban in a solitary manner and the consequent withdrawal not agreed with anyone, which left Afghans with a strong feeling of abandonment.
Agriculture was not supported by a policy of massive investments that would allow peasants to abandon the easier and more profitable cultivation of opium to switch to food production useful to the population. In this regard, President Karzai had also opposed the complete destruction of poppy plantations, in the absence of the promotion of alternative productive activities. In fact, production increased during the Western stay in that country.
Finally, the substantial lack of markets, roads, railways, transport between villages in the hinterland. This, in addition to having slowed down or prevented an adequate intervention in depth by Western forces, did not allow the spread of trade and the exchange of consumer goods on a national scale.. The limited investments in support of a sustainable development policy have certainly not been favored by the conformation of the territory, which has small valleys between very high mountains, with villages that in winter remain isolated from the snow for a long time and whose local institutions are often corrupt. Not even the World Bank proved to be up to the challenges, failing to intervene with adequate investments in priority sectors and limiting itself to substantially inconclusive statistical exercises.
Furthermore, the assistance strategy adopted after the apparent victory over the Taliban, with the creation of institutional reconstruction poles entrusted to the group of "winning powers" (USA for security and reorganization of the army, United Kingdom for the fight against drugs, Italy for justice reform, Germany for police reform and Japan for the disarmament of parallel militias) missed the mark because, according to many observers, the basic conditions for carrying out their respective commitments were essentially absent. The gap between expectations and the real conditions in which we found ourselves working was, in fact, too wide for there to be any concrete possibilities of success. This also taking into account the lack of openness to profound transformations on the part of a population that saw no economic benefit from any change. Only the Afghan women, in fact, who saw in emancipation the possibility of their recognition as human beings, were the main supporters of the foreign presence.
The Taliban in power
With the Taliban back in power, the world is wondering about the future of Afghanistan, horrified by summary executions, violence and restrictions on civil liberties imposed in the name of religion.
Violence and revenge are spreading everywhere. In Kabul, where the police chief was brutally murdered in favor of the camera, as in the rest of the country, where a comedian and a musician were brutally killed because they were guilty of mocking the Taliban regime or loving music.
And then there is the problem of the female condition. For the moment, the global mobilization does not go beyond indignation and the attempt to expatriate as many Afghan citizens as possible, only to refuse to accept them, while we sadly observe the disappearance of women from the Afghan political scene, reduced again under a despotic and unreasonable male power, who are now again denied the possibility of assuming roles and responsibilities that, instead, they had had during the twenty years of Western commitment in the country.
Another factor of great concern, linked to the return of the Taliban to power, is the possible increase in drug trafficking from Afghanistan. With the significant reduction in foreign investment, the self-proclaimed Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan will, in fact, need to raise money. One of the most profitable forms of financing is certainly represented by the drug market, which affects not only the producing countries, but also a large number of countries along the transfer and consumption chain. In this context, Afghanistan is the main producer of opium, from which heroin is obtained. Already today, 85% of the opium consumed in the world comes from that country, but now there is the possibility that production will grow further, to supply the state coffers. In this context, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajkistan are crossed by traffic to the Russian Federation, while the countries of Central Asia have become crossroads to other countries, including Europe through the Balkan route. In essence, the terrorists and criminals who dominate the drug routes in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Balkans make it possible to weld the production-transformation-transport-marketing circuit from Afghanistan to Europe.
As reported in the Strategic Observatory of the Military Center for Strategic Studies (CeMISS), the link between drug trafficking and international terrorism is also proven by the fact that the Taliban 1.0 regime itself was at the center of heroin production and trade channels and it is thought that even before 11/XNUMX there was a channel of collaboration between the Taliban, the terrorist group called Islamic Jihad and the Colombian drug trafficking cartel. Now that channel risks being reopened completely, with all the foreseeable consequences for Europe.
Then there is the forte la concern that now, after the Taliban has taken control, Afghanistan will once again become the black hole of international terrorism and that it resumes the practice of "welcoming" given by the past regime of Koranic students to Uzbek, Iraqi, Uyghur and Chechen extremists who joined local jihadist groups, and then went on to carry out their terrorist actions around the world . Fears also fueled by the confusion created by the population fleeing from what promises, despite the official "relaxing" proclamations, a regime characterized by religious fanaticism, repression and violence. A violence that the Taliban, having returned to power in Afghanistan, make it "state" when they transmit the crude images of summary executions, as a warning to all those who think they oppose it. A violence that will not avert, however, the challenge to the Taliban by other terrorist groups, such as those affiliated with the Islamic State, fighting to establish themselves in that tormented territory.
Added to this is the alarm raised by the organs of intelligence, about the concrete possibility that the chaotic exodus could allow extreme fanatics to blend in with the crowd and, therefore, to enter Western countries by exploiting the humanitarian corridors, and then commit acts of violence. Already in France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany some "at risk" subjects have been identified and the attacks of 26 August at Kabul airport confirm the possibility of infiltration by terrorists (of various affiliation) among Afghan civilians.
Since 9/11 a struggle has been unleashed which aimed to punish Osama Bin Laden and all the other inspirers of the al-Qaeda attacks. Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush's powerful Secretary of Defense at the time, had to repeat several times that the United States "... had no intention of getting involved in a process destined to change the political and institutional regime ..." of Afghanistan and that they would have "... limited themselves to lending a hand in the creation of a new Afghan army, full stop ..."i. However, at the beginning of the second presidential term there was talk of "exporting democracy", having to justify the continued presence of the US (and its allies) in the two countries where the war on terrorism had been fought (but not won): Iraq and Afghanistan. The aim has therefore become that of freeing the country from Taliban obscurantism and favoring a system based on the rule of law, on the affirmation of human rights and on a representative democracy.
A goal never achieved since, faced with the growing unpopularity in the United States of a military intervention increasingly without significant prospects in the short term and with the knowledge that the Afghan forces would not be able to quickly take control of the territory on their own, in March 2020 President Trump unilaterally decided to start negotiations with the Taliban, excluding the Afghan government from the negotiations, to agree on the withdrawal of US troops, and consequently of their allies. NATO made the Doha agreements its own and, in the conclusions of the Atlantic Council at ministerial level of 14 April 2021 it was established that, after twenty years of "... investments in blood and money ... we have prevented the terrorists from attacking us using the Afghan territory as a base ... there is no military solution to the challenges that Afghanistan must face ... the allies have therefore decided to start the withdrawal of their forces from from 1 May 2021 ... the withdrawal will be ordered and coordinated ... any Taliban attack on allied troops will be forcefully repelled ... ". A statement not very distant, in essence, from another famous statement of an 8 September of the past.
In this context, the awareness that the ideological strength of a (minority) part of the Muslim world has not diminished, which wants to pursue different ends from the rest of humanity and calls for a different society, strongly dependent on rigoristic interpretations of an uncompromising reading of the Koran. A part that is in strong ideological and political opposition not only with the West but also with some Arab-Muslim governments, which are the target of this terrorism.
It then affects the change in the geopolitical scenario total. Afghanistan in 2001 was firmly controlled by the Pashtuns, who made up the bulk of the Taliban forces. Today it seems to be no longer the case. The Pashtuns were strongly anti-Shiite and, therefore, had established relations with some of the Sunni leadership of the Arab-Muslim world, especially in Iraq. As a result, Iran had taken a strong stand against the Taliban. As a result of the Chechen crisis, where many Afghans of Muslim faith militated among the rebel ranks, Russia also took sides against the Kabul regime. Then followed China, which had problems with its Muslim citizens.
All countries that today, upon the return to Kabul of the Taliban 2.0 (?), Declare themselves ready to establish economic and interested relations with that regime and, therefore, to provide their help in replacement of what is expected to be lost by the West . Countries to which Turkey has been added which, despite being formally part of NATO, has for some years decided to follow its own path of maritime and territorial expansion and approach to the Arab-Muslim world, with the (not so much) secret hope of return to the leadership of that Sunni world which, at the beginning of the twentieth century, saw Istanbul as the capital of a vast empire, which then fell as a result of the infamous alliances made in the First World War.
The recent events in Afghanistan have highlighted, once again, the removal of the United States from the areas of more direct European interest, so much so that, for example, US President Biden seems to have fallen asleep while talking about Middle Eastern issues with the Israeli leader.
Washington's priorities, in fact, are today mainly in the Asia-Pacific area, while Europeans still look with apprehension at the Middle East, the Mediterranean, the Persian Gulf, Africa and now Afghanistan, without neglecting the reasons for dissent with Russia represented by the Ukraine, Baltic and Arctic issues. This is not to say that Europeans don't care what happens in the Indo-Pacific, on the contrary (v. article). It simply means that the time has come for Europe to wake up and start thinking about its own interests, rather than pursuing those of other (albeit important) allies. (v. article) A line that may have received an involuntary push from the USA, with the recent talks in Kabul between the head of the CIA and the Taliban president in pectore. Talks took place, again this time, without notifying the allies, who went wild at the news.
Furthermore, it should be emphasized that the images of the chaotic US flight from Kabul have provided valuable material for Chinese propaganda and could cause some reduction in Washington's credibility even in the delicate chessboard of the Indo-Pacific and in the Taiwan question. As Sarang Shidore, an analyst at the Quincy Institute in Washington DC states, "... the incompetence shown by the US in the withdrawal of troops cannot be ignored by other countries ..."ii, while Dean Cheng, an analyst at the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC writes that Beijing has the great opportunity to point out that "... the US cannot even decently carry out an operation such as withdrawing from an area held by less capable forces like the Taliban ... ". In all of this, Taiwan, which has so far benefited from US military and political protection against attempts at Chinese annexation, could begin to question Washington's real reliability, given how it has suddenly "dumped" Afghanistan.
Looking at other international relations, it must be said that the return of the Taliban to power in Afghanistan certainly pleases the Pakistan, A Muslim country, and probably somehow too to India, A country with a Hindu majority, which is seeing its bargaining power grow vis-à-vis the West, both as a result of the decades-long conflict between Delhi and Islamabad and its recent adhesion to the Quad, the Indo-Pacific alliance that opposes the China. The friction between India and Pakistan dates back to 1948, when Islamabad did not accept the ceasefire which sanctioned the detachment of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), to which were added the claims for Kashmir. Pakistan, in particular, has always aspired to have a friendly government in Kabul, so much so that many observers point to Islamabad as the true instigator and "protector" of the Taliban (Bin Laden was hidden in Abbottabad, Pakistan).
The country will predictably continue with the usual ambiguity, partly to keep a deep space behind it (in case relations with India seriously worsen) and partly out of solidarity with the border Pashtun component and to prevent this from thinking of organize themselves separately. The country, in fact, could not bear the loss of another slice of territory.
For its part, the China, among all the neighbors or interested parties, it is certainly the one that has the best chance of economic success with the new Afghan regime because it promises assistance, professes non-interference and is willing to invest large financial means in infrastructure and, above all, is willing to procure rare minerals, abundant in Afghanistan. However, Beijing masks well its apprehension regarding the Afghan crisis, as the takeover by the Taliban could have significant repercussions on the security of a part of Chinese territory (read Xinjiang). Therefore, even Beijing will have to ensure that Kabul does not become a safe heaven for the terrorists, who could thus launch attacks on China in retaliation for the treatment suffered by the Uighurs. Any countermeasures, however, could only be political and economic, as Beijing would predictably be reluctant to engage militarily in Afghanistan. History teaches those who study it. Furthermore, the attention of the Chinese military is currently mainly directed towards the east, towards the waters of the Indo-Pacific theater.
Not even Russia sleeps soundly. Despite the proclaimed willingness to collaborate with the new masters of Afghanistan, Moscow well remembers its disastrous military campaign, is very clear on the Afghan paternity of the tons of drugs that are sold in Russia and still remembers the support given by the Taliban to jihadist militants in Chechnya. With regard to the latter point, if there are signs of a resumption of terrorist activity departing from Afghanistan, Russia could join the Westerners in the repression of the phenomenon. Meanwhile, Moscow's propaganda exploits US failure and the resulting decline in popularity to increase pressure in areas of its most direct strategic interest, such as Ukraine, the Mediterranean and Europe.
La Turkey represents the new entry into the patrol of Kabul suitors. However, even in this case, despite the unrealistic desire to play a role as a regional protagonist, Ankara cannot be completely calm. First of all for the possible flow of refugees who could press on its borders, causing considerable problems in the management of internal security. A scenario that Turkey would prefer to avoid but which, despite the relaxed declarations made by the Taliban in favor of the camera, is becoming more and more likely, given the fundamentalist ideology at the basis of the movement, the continuous references to the Shari'a and the bloody images / news of summary executions that still manage to filter through the news.
Central Asia, in fact, is becoming a powder keg. To the struggle for the supply of fresh water (v. article) are added today by the enormous and worrying uncertainties deriving from the new instability in Afghanistan, an important Asian crossroads, and the strong fears for a possible resumption (and export) of terrorist activity and drug trafficking. They are almost all countries rich in natural resources, even valuable ones. Probably much more than Middle Eastern countries. This is why the events of that area also interest us Europeans, and a lot.
Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran represent a single quadrant, where the abandonment of one location has the effect of weakening the control policy towards the other two, allowing the insertion of other dangerous or different actors: the Islamic State and Al- Qaeda for example.
A separate consideration must be made for the appearance ofintelligence.
The American escape triggered a disgusting series of blame game within the American Administration. On the national level, public opinion adds serious doubts about the quality of the work done to the accusation of not having been able to prevent the catastrophe of 11 September. In this context, a more accurate and coordinated information collection at international level, effectively supported by new technologies, will certainly contribute to countering the danger of attacks. Provided that politics listens to the professionals of theintelligence who, while not infallible, often have a more open mind than those politicians who have their horizon limited to the next elections (v. article).
Nevertheless, it is foreseeable that Afghanistan, at least in the short-medium term, will continue to be a battlefield, between the desperation of the civilian population and the satisfaction of that segment of society (traffickers, lords, terrorists and guerrillas) who in chaos find an environment more favorable to their interests.
At the time this article is published, the situation is still quite fluid. The stances and twists continue to follow one another that let us understand how the complex dynamics that work in Afghanistan are far from stabilizing.
Dismay, execration, horror. In the face of terrorist actions or the seizure of power by those who profess violence and female submission, however, one cannot but remain deeply disturbed. The heart of the human being is an abyss from which designs of unprecedented ferocity sometimes emerge, capable in an instant of upsetting the life of a whole people. And every time that happens we are brutally forced to come to terms with reality.
One thing is certain: it is necessary to oppose this way of doing because it is based on the rejection of the values and principles that we believe to be those which the life of a people should be based on and which should be shared by all men and women. If this were not the case, on the other hand, how could we continue to affirm the existence of human rights as a heritage not only of the West, but of all continents and all States that are reflected in the principles of the United Nations?
Solidarity expressed in words therefore imposes the duty to follow a decisive all-round political action.
And in doing so, there must be certainty that democracy is a process of historical accumulation that can be slowed down or blocked by contingent circumstances, but whose heritage is never completely lost.
The individual freedoms that the Afghan people have known during the last twenty years have now been hidden again under the smoldering rubble left by the new Taliban, but the embers of democracy are alive and are represented by the thousands of young people, especially from the big cities, who they studied and grew up nurturing hopes and aspirations, following life models that made free choice a non-negotiable subject.
Young people who do not see a system based on fanaticism and the imposition of rigid religious rules as their model of society, but who believe in respect for life and individual choices. And this is the most important legacy left by the twenty-year presence in Afghanistan.
Defending principles is always worthwhile. And those who defend them often see farther than those who allow themselves to be clouded by the fears, uncertainties or interests (political or economic) of the moment. Fears to protect one's selfish interest never pay off.
The open character typical of contemporary Western societies, which ensure a high level of protection of constitutionally provided individual rights, makes our societies particularly sensitive to the demands of those young people. We must not leave them alone.
The Taliban have already shown in the past that they cannot be considered reliable interlocutors and the broken promises of amnesty or support for civil rights, combined with the cruel images of this period show that they are anything but moderate. All this suggests that they will not fail to support jihadist terrorism, in one form or another.
Europe, which has always been divided on almost all truly important issues, with a more than evident international political failure, even in the case of the new Afghan crisis continues obstinately to manifest its political nuances and deep ideological and often isolationist cracks, starting from Austria, which promptly expressed its refusal to welcome those Afghan families who had believed in the Western approach and Slovenia which, through its premier, declared that Europe would not open humanitarian corridors in favor of refugees Afghans. Strong and isolationist statements while, instead, it would have been the time to courageously defend the ideals on which the European Union is based. In the Slovenian case, the premier has also remedied a bad international figure, as the president of the European Parliament Sassoli recalled him by saying that Slovenia has no right to speak on behalf of the EU.
The “banks” of reference are multiplying and the West will find itself increasingly vulnerable if it does not firmly reaffirm the common values and accompany its foreign policy with a union of intentions, leaving aside small and populist personal interests. Despite the unfortunate conclusion of the Afghan commitment, on the western side, it must therefore be understood that in that territory a game is still being played that goes far beyond our model of life. The thrill of success that occurred after the fall of the Berlin Wall has now given way to the strong and evident contradictions of the international situation and the geopolitical evolution, which we looked at with the sufficiency of the satisfied winner, must now be faced with the same concreteness and vision. of the future that characterized the period of the Cold War. An approach that has become indispensable to guarantee our values and our way of life which, even if not perfect, allows us to enjoy that freedom that few fanatics would like to take away from us.
In a world that is continually distracted by irrelevant issues, it is increasingly difficult to keep the clarity to focus on the really important issues. For this reason, we must strive even more to maintain an open, clear and determined vision because history does not discount anyone, and will severely judge what we will do and also what we will not have done, when we had all the possibilities.
Renato Scarfi is also the author of the essay “Il terrorismo jihadi”, Europa Edizioni, 2019. Foreword by gen. ca Roberto Bernardini, former commander of the EI Land Operational Forces
i Sergio Romano, Exporting democracy, reality and legend, Corriere della Sera of 14 December 2015
ii Braking Defense, Afghan aftermath: will Pacific States see weakened US?, August 20, 2021
Photo: web / United Nations / US Marine Corps / BBC / Hamid Mir / US Air Force / Online Defense