When President Biden’s spoke in response to Taliban victory in Afghanistan, he confessed to being surprised by the speed of the victory.
NATO Secretary General also spoke of his surprised at the speed of Taliban victory.
The two men presides over the biggest and most sophisticated military alliance on earth.
Forces with access to the most advanced technologies including satellite images, spy plans and every other technical capabilities imaginable.
Yet, they were caught wrong footed by the most primitive military force on earth.
What went wrong and most importantly how can we prevent similar occurrence?
Ignorant or Incompetency?
No doubt, when the dust is finally settled in Afghanistan and evacuation is complete, opposition parties in every Western capital from Washington to London, Berlin to Paris will demand a national enquiry into what went wrong.
However, what will not be demanded is accountability from the Intelligence Agencies.
If for no other reason than the fact that Pakistan has nuclear weapon and Pakistan has Taliban.
We need accountability from our Intelligence Agencies.
Imagine Pakistani Taliban having their hands on Pakistan’s nuclear weapon?
I heard you say it’s impossible.
May I remind you that a month ago Monsieur. Job Biden said it was impossible for the Taliban to take over Afghanistan.
And it has happened.
The only thing that will prevent Pakistani Taliban from laying their hands on their nuclear weapon is a honest post-mortem about our failure in Afghanistan.
Was the failure to see the Taliban coming a case of the intelligence agencies asleep at the switch or were they simply incompetent?
In part one of this article series, I catalogued some of the biggest intelligence failure.
This article intents on answering the question: are Western Intelligence Agencies asleep at the wheel or incompetent?
Solving Puzzle or Mystery
In his book ‘Reshaping National Intelligence for an Age of Information’ author Gregory Treverton introduced the puzzle and mystery framework.
According to Mr. Treverton, a puzzle is a problem with a missing piece aka information.
When there is a piece of information missing, such as where is Osama Bin Laden hiding?
We have a puzzle to solve.
A mystery on the other hand is a problem that is not necessarily solved by additional information.
A question such as will the Taliban take over Afghanistan is a mystery.
This is because the answer to such a question depends on many other variables that is beyond a single missing information.
Because puzzles and mysteries are different problems, solving them requires two different approaches.
Here is the problem with Western Intelligence Agencies, they were created to solve puzzles.
So, even though the problems they currently face are mysteries, they still use the puzzle approach to solving problems that are mysteries.
The prevailing archetype of Western Intelligence Agencies is the mindless lunatic called James Bond going around shooting anything and everything in his path.
But James Bond is not intelligent.
James Bond was a type of lunacy that existed years ago when Intelligence Agencies were solving puzzles.
In the intelligence world of mystery solving, what is needed is an Inspector Poirot who thinks his way through problems.
In future articles, I will explore the future of Western Intelligence in the context of Chinses and Russian evolution.
James Baldwin once said, the slave knows everything about his master, but the master knows nothing about the slave.
The problem in Afghanistan was the Taliban knew everything about Western intelligence but Western intelligence knew nothing about the Taliban.
So, they won.
When our intelligence agencies convene to conduct post-mortem on Afghanistan, the question that needs answering is, why didn’t they know anything about the Taliban?