Afghanistan and the Cruel Reality of Geopolitics
Geopolitics sometimes requires that we make some difficult choices. Right now, the optimal choice in Afghanistan is to not invest another life or another dollar in that sad nation.
Post-war Afghanistan is a mess. But, it’s their mess. Message to America: Stay completely out of it. We’ve wasted enough precious resources already.
Today, I saw a news report that the situation in Afghanistan has reached a crisis point.
Yeah, we’ve heard this before. It seems Afghanistan has been in a perpetual state of crisis for 20 years now, make that 40 years now, with utterly no end in sight.
Certainly, the situation is much more desperate now than even before West-led coalition forces and a provisional government were in power. Well, sorta’. Since the dramatic downfall of the quasi-democratic Afghan Government last summer, this backward nation has slid even further into the abyss of misery. What international humanitarian groups stuck around, and there’s aren’t many, starkly predict that more than a million could die within just the next two years without some level of intervention and (at a minimum) food assistance from the developed world.
Geopolitics is a cruel game and chess pieces are often swapped and sacrificed. Nothing is more expendable than pawns. Indeed, Afghanistan has been a pawn for a very long time, a relatively insignificant board piece moved first by the British, then later by the Soviets, and most recently by the Americans. Now, the pawn is toppled onto its side, unable to move. It has no giant hand as a savior to place it back onto a square. It’s just there, a chess piece fallen onto the floor. If anyone cared, no one would know what to do with it.
In all honestly, we’re all fed up with Afghanistan and seemingly endless Middle East wars. It’s difficult to muster up much sympathy for a nation that was granted extraordinary economic and security assistance over such a long period (to our own detriment), yet collectively when they were needed to fight, refused to stand up for themselves. We have no idea what level of popular support the ruling Taliban enjoys among the general population but let’s credit the fanatics at least for fighting for something. Most of Afghanistan refused to make a stand, and now they and the entire population will suffer for it.
Sadly, and this is most heartbreaking, the victims who will suffer the most are, as always, women and children. These are people who bear no guilt. When malnutrition spreads and starvation mounts, women and children will pay a disproportionately high price. Humanitarian aid groups make this point in their pleas, and I think most of us are sympathetic. Perhaps some donations will be raised and a few governments may even send token emergency aid.
But to what end is saving a nation in complete chaos? Is it smart to restock the cupboard if the entire house is on fire? How many more hundreds of billions should be spent before positive results are seen? Wasn’t $1 trillion, then $2 trillion, then $3 trillion enough? The fact is, we’ve had enough.
Afghanistan had a unique opportunity that was afforded to only a few nations in history following a brutal period of war and misery. The best examples are Germany and Japan following World War II, both of which were given massive assistance by the victorious powers. Those investments paid off. Sadly, that same blueprint didn’t work in Afghanistan.
The harsh reality won’t sound benevolent. Geopolitics rarely is benevolent. Unfortunately, Afghanistan must take its medicine, or put another way, sleep in the bed they made for themselves. The people of that country had a once-in-a-century opportunity to crawl out of the Middle Ages, ditch maniacal sectarian rule, and move into the 21st Century. But when it came time to make a choice as to their future, Afghanistan — collectively speaking — pursued another path. More like, walked away. It’s the path that will lead to a mass genocide perhaps. It’s a path that isn’t fair to some Afghans, who undoubtedly were brave and did good things. But there just weren’t enough of them. Now, everybody suffers.
Geopolitics requires that we make difficult choices. The optimal choice in Afghanistan is to not invest another life or another dollar in that sad nation. They must learn to feed themselves, fight for themselves, and hopefully someday even govern themselves. It’s time for the pawn to lift itself up and then make its own move.