But American industry – and political campaign war chests — did benefit
It’s painful watching what is unfolding in Afghanistan,
The liberal media and Democrats are breathing a sigh of relief that all Americans got out before the Aug. 31 deadline – so we’re told. Conservative media still remind us that 13 service members are dead – the largest death toll in the Afghan war since 2011.
But with 10 days before the 20th anniversary of the 9/11/01 attacks that killed nearly 4,000 U.S. citizens, the idea the Taliban, which sheltered the 9/11 terrorists, is back in power after we allegedly were beating them back these last 20 years is disheartening.
U.S. taxpayers spent nearly $2 trillion over 20 years, depending on the accounting, losing 2,448 military lives and 3,846 American contractor lives. Worst, due to Biden delaying President Trump’s May 1 withdrawal deadline, thus allowing the Taliban to close in on Kabul, we are also leaving behind an expensive embassy in Kabul, Bagram AFB and possibly $85 billion in military equipment for the Taliban and their terrorist allies to use against us and the peaceful nations of the world.
I don’t think liberals care much about the irony of this Dunkirk-like evacuation coming 11 days before the 9/11 20th, as much as trying to find SOMETHING Biden has done that they can cheer about and defend their votes against the “nasty Donald Trump.” Even the loudmouth socialists like Bernie Sanders and “The Squad” are keeping quiet, waiting for right moment to blame this all on “American imperialism” and “systemic racism.” And maybe “climate change.”
So, what is the real underlying reasons for this disaster?
Since Woodrow Wilson, American foreign policy has largely been led by altruism – a desire to make everywhere a democracy like US. Our entire foreign policy establishment and military establishment think we can help our “little brown brothers” become more democratic, less warlike and become model citizens. Christian missionaries were the day to day foot soldiers in all of this; today, it’s American largesse and handouts.
But Nation building, a la Iraq or South Vietnam, or at one time Haiti under Bill Clinton, doesn’t work. There is a limit to the power of government.
Our mission in Afghanistan to wipe out Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden for the 2001 attacks was pretty much accomplished when bin Laden was captured and killed in 2011. Obama had the opportunity after his 2012 re-election to pull us out, but did not, as I will show later.
Donald Trump, not being altruistic but transactional and calculating, was the first president to get us out, and Biden flubbed the withdrawal by giving the weak Afghan government we created more time.
But the Afghani men we put in those uniforms, and gave them training, and a salary, had no will to fight. They were bought off by Taliban bribes and tribal loyalties prevailed. Pilots we trained flew the jets we built to Uzbekistan to save their skin.
Afghanistan is not a country, but a collection of tribes and loyalty is to the tribe, not the central government, TBE writer and Strasburg Councilmember John Massoud, who has relatives in the country, wrote here. So true. This is why despite killing 1 million Afghanis with firepower from 1979 to 1989, the Soviet Union made no progress there to install a pro Soviet regime. Insurgents, which is what the Taliban fighters are, can wait things out and gain alliances among the populace easier than the US, just as the Viet Cong were able to co-opt the failed government of South Vietnam.
We fail to learn from history, but the State Department and Pentagon policymakers continue to keep their jobs.
Altruism leads to gullibility and the potential to “trust” those with who you have a connection and so their “assurances” comfort you in your decision making.
I see in Joe Biden a man who just takes at face value whatever some educated bureaucrat or lobbyist tells him. He’s much like some of the people I worked with in elected office. I wrote in my book about my 10 years in office and winning local elections “It is good to have your “BS detector” on and be skeptical and ask questions.” Unfortunately, this president and all-too-many lazy politicians at all levels of government have no such skepticism. They can be “wowed” by credentials (i.e., Anthony Fauci) or money and power, i.e., corporate connections.
Biden trusted the crooked former president of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, about the Afghan army being able to protect the US evacuation. So, by not sticking with Trump’s May 1 deadline for getting out, Biden allowed the Taliban to encircle Kabul with few US troops to protect it. Ghani has now fled to the United Arab Emirates reportedly with millions of US dollars in his possession.
One major reason Obama did not withdraw from Afghanistan was Ghani’s assurances. Read more here, in this Washington Post piece.
Trump, for all his faults, was at least the first president to get us out. And he was a skeptic of bureaucrats and lobbyists. But Trump Derangement Syndrome among the Biden White House hierarchy and not doing anything Trump negotiated was foremost in why they did this.
Point 3, the military-industrial complex (MIC).
At a White House press briefing Aug. 20, Biden said of the Afghanistan situation: “Look, if we had decided 15 years ago to leave Afghanistan, it would have been really difficult. If we decided five years ago — if we start — if we continued the war for another decade and tried to leave, there’s no way in which you’d be able to leave Afghanistan without there being some of what you’re seeing now.”
Why is that so, Mr. President? It seems nobody is asking this question about why America’s longest war ended the way it began.
Talking to a number of ex-uniformed veterans of Afghanistan, I learned that the people on the ground – as in Vietnam – sent optimistic reports to higher ups. Many of these were contractors, who want to keep the money flowing. And money to contractors means donations to politicians, including liberal Democrats. In fact, in 2020, the estimated $46 million in donations from DoD contractors to federal races was evenly split between Democrats and Republicans.
The Leftist mag “The Nation” documented the MIC’s influence on both Trump and Biden administrations.
But the best summation of the MIC’s influence I could find is from this Australian journalist:
In the words of George Orwell in the book 1984, “The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous.”
Moreover, it is meant to be far away and beyond the attention of the citizenry.
The military-industrial complex had a very successful 20-year war in Afghanistan, greatly profiting from the $2 trillion the US spent there, and a similarly successful stint in Iraq.
Whether the U.S. learns anything from Afghanistan is unclear, same with whether that military gear we left the Taliban will be used against us in terrorist attacks.
But even if we are attacked, God forbid, will the Divided States of America unite and respond?
The great American Red-Blue divide was only in its infancy in September 2001 so Americans could come together after an attack and support his War on Terror, despite the fact Democrats were still smarting from his contested election win in 2000.
But today, the Red-Blue Divide is wider and deeper. Afghanistan has become just another battleground in the war of words on social media, and liberals are silent and want nothing more to turn attention back to COVID and the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill assault.
But if we look at what government does and fails to do with a cold eye instead of with rose colored glasses, we will see that altruism and gullibility and our faith in government and collectivism to solve the world’s problems are the underlying faults. Even Republicans put too much stock in government. And that includes the military industrial complex.
And the scourge of history is when monarchs, dictators and overly altruistic politicians in democracies fail to see the limits of government, even in the realm of foreign and military policy.