“There is no mystery about why the U.S. experience in Afghanistan ended in failure, embarrassment, and scandal. Nor is it a mystery why the Taliban took over Kabul so quickly. They were fighting for primacy. Their victory was foreordained.
“The medieval Arab historian Ibn Khaldun explains the dynamic in his 14th-century masterwork, Al Muqaddima. History, he shows, is a repetition of the same pattern seen throughout the ages—a group of nomadic tribesmen overturn an existing sedentary culture, a civilization that has become weak and luxurious. What drives the success of the rising tribe is its group solidarity, or assabiya. Its awareness of itself as a coherent people with a drive for primacy is frequently augmented by religious ideology. The stronger the tribe’s assabiya, the stronger the group. Assimilating the conquered by imposing its will and worldview on them, the victor lays the foundations of a new civilization. But since, as Ibn Khaldun writes, “the goal of civilization is sedentary culture and luxury,” all groups carry the seeds of their own demise.
And so the struggle begins anew.