We Must Never Forget America’s Forgotten War and the Catastrophic Mistakes of Afghanistan
If you’re reading this, thank you. You’re in the minority. Almost no one seems to care about one of the worst foreign policy mistakes and military blunders in United States history.
The longest war in American history is now winding down and will end soon. Well, American involvement is ending. For Afghans, the terrible conflict will likely continue and will probably not end well.
Fact is, I’m shocked by our deafening silence about Afghanistan. I’m troubled by our collective amnesia about this war and the terrible waste of lives and national treasury that was desperately needed here at home. Why isn’t there more conversation and far greater scrutiny on this horribly misguided 20-year failure of American foreign policy? No one — and I mean NO ONE — seems to care. Move over Korea, Afghanistan has become “the real forgotten war.”
Instead of forgetting and moving on, as Americans so often do, I think it’s absolutely critical to learn some lessons from this misguided ordeal. We need to do some serious soul searching, try to understand the American war machine’s insatiable appetite for consumption and destruction, and hold the guilty accountable for their appalling misjudgments, mistakes, and crimes. I intend on doing precisely that in this brief expose.
What follows are my TEN THOUGHTS ON THE UNITED STATES WITHDRAWAL FROM AFGHANISTAN:
(1) Will we ever learn from history? Apparently not. There’s a reason Afghanistan has been called “the graveyard of empires.” The Maurya Empire from India, the Greco-Bactrians, the Indo-Parthians, the Saka (Scythians), the great Buddha-building Kushans, the Kidarites, and the Hephthalites (White Huns) — all of these empires failed to conquer this land or unite its people. Then, the Arabs failed miserably. Next, the Mongols invaded and were driven out. Later, the British tried to impose stability and recognized the waste and folly. Even the Soviet Union at the height of its military might lost the war and packed up and left. 2001: Enter the United States of America, which apparently has never read a history textbook.
(2) Speaking of history, didn’t we learn anything at all from the catastrophe of Vietnam? Again, apparently not. Invading a hostile nation stoked with a fanatical indigenous population is doomed to fail. Even a technologically superior force can’t convert a simple population indoctrinated by centuries of fanaticism, particularly when it’s rooted in religion. The lesson of Vietnam, other than the United States should NEVER have been involved there at all, was — there must be an end objective and an exit strategy. America’s political leaders and the military never had an end objective or exit strategy, other than idiotic and preposterous idealism completely rebuked by Afghanistan’s turbulent history.
(3) American neo-conservatives launched this war and they were proven catastrophically wrong. Neo-cons should NEVER be trusted again on any matter of foreign policy. They promised us these wars would “pay for themselves.” They assured us American troops would be “greeted at liberators.” After blundering in Afghanistan, they invaded another nation (Iraq), doubling down on lunacy. They launched these invasions under false pretenses — willfully yapping lies about being responsible for 9/11 attacks and weapons of mass destruction. Note that 19 of the 21 attackers involved in 9/11 terrorism were from SAUDI ARABIA. Neo-conservatives have been wrong about everything. EVERYTHING.
(4) Neo-conservatives, including the conniving architects and drum-bangers of lunatic wars pushed by the George Bush Administration, have blood on their hands. American dead in Afghanistan. Many more in Iraq. Tens of thousands of casualties. Decades of long-term debt taking care of proud veterans and treating mental health problems, which spill over to suicides every day and domestic discord from veterans broken by the cruel mistakes of two wars. Oh, and a TRILLION DOLLARS wasted and counting. Maybe that money could have been spent on shoring up intelligence, targeted countermeasures to terrorism, and other programs rather than more bombs, tanks, and planes from the pipeline of the bloated American industrial complex, which ceaselessly feeds the beast pig of war.
(5) Let’s remember the brave voices of reason and truth on these pointless unwinnable wars were from the AMERICAN LEFT. And, those voices were BRAVE because they were a decisive minority. Let’s go back to 2001 and 2002. We were called “unAmerican.” We were labeled as “unpatriotic.” While America was cheering “operation storm this and bomb the fuck out of that,” the American Left was the only political entity that raised serious objections. We WARNED you. We TOLD you. We PLEADED with you. We PREDICTED this would happen — that America would kill thousands, blow billions, the war profiteers would get rich, and then the whole clusterfuck would end up right back to where we started at the end of all the waste and mass misery — an ungovernable hostile population that wants America and its troops out. The FAR LEFT GOT IT RIGHT. 100 PERCENT RIGHT. Conservatives, as always, were DEAD WRONG.
(6) To be clear, there’s plenty of blame to go around. Republicans and Democrats. Multiple presidential administrations. “Experts” spewing faux-wisdom (which begs the question–why is ultra-conservative war-hawk John Bolton on television as an analyst and taken seriously by ANYONE?). But at their core and origin, these wars were pushed hard by CONSERVATIVES. Republicans love war. They hump at the prospect of hoarding blood money. That’s always been the nature of the conservative movement (ne Republicans).
(7) What will happen? Most likely, Afghanistan will fall to the Taliban once American military forces depart. Think of South Vietnam in 1973. It took less than two years for Saigon (aka Ho Chi Minh City) to be overrun and the government to collapse (which was inevitable–it was a horrible government with terrible leadership). In Afghanistan, which has astonishing similarities, I predict this will end much quicker. So, after 20 years of death and waste, we’ll likely be right back to the conditions of early 2001.
(8) The United States government should allow the native people who helped our forces to immigrate to the U.S., or be settled elsewhere. Sill, I also understand the trepidation, which isn’t reported anywhere. My own diplomatic training gives me some insight here I think as the resistance to simply allowing Afghan translators, drivers, and other essential support personnel is twofold: 1. There are 18,000 support personnel, and if Afghanistan is to succeed in any measure as a democracy, those 18,000 people are important to help that effort and be the leaders of tomorrow. Removing them from the country amounts to surrender, abandoning all hopes for a stable, somewhat democratic nation. 2. I assure you, among those 18,000 “support personnel” a fair number are infiltrators and hostile agents–in other words, pro-Taliban. This happens in any diplomatic mission of size. There’s simply no means to background check these potential immigrants, which means several could be introduced to the U.S. and be dangerous. I have no basis of fact here with evidence, but probably 10-20 percent of those 18,000 are “spies.” That creates a really tough quagmire for the Biden Administration. I presume these are the reasons for reluctance.
(9) Afghanistan isn’t important strategically. This point has totally been missed, by just about everyone. Centuries ago, trade routes between East and West passed through Afghan lands. So, there was some need to maintain their stability. Today, these lands offer NO VALUE to anyone other than the natives. If we’re really concerned about future acts of terrorism, origins are far more likely to exist in other nations, particularly in Africa, the Middle East, the former Soviet Republics, and Asia. Hell, we should be more concerned about AMERICAN BORN acts of terror and possible insurrection. Concentrating so heavily on the mountainous, impoverished region of Afghanistan has been an ABSURD miscalculation.
(10) Finally, the biggest losers here will be Afghan women. They are the victims. Bless them. I can’t imagine the horrors of what’s to come. It’s a noble deed to want to protect those basic human rights and one can make a moral judgment that what the United States did in Afghanistan to improve the plight and prospects for women is a justifiable action. Nonetheless, we can’t pretend to be pro-women or defenders of human rights when this nation fully supports and sells arms to one of the very worst regimes in the world on this issue — Saudi Arabia. So, please spare me the weak lectures about America defending human rights and support democracy and freedom abroad. Hypocrisy has never been more on display nor is as sickening as to how one war is justified and relations with a very similar regime continue unabated.
READ MORE: AMERICAN HYPOCRISY AT ITS WORST IN THE MIDDLE EAST