Yup, Uncle Joe definitely fucked this one up.
As we all know, President Biden pulled us out of Afghanistan with the assurance that everything would be, like, totally cool once we left, and the Taliban would not take over the country and oppress the hell out of women and terrorize the populace and provide a base for religious fanatics who dream of killing nonbelievers in massive numbers.
That just would not happen.
Of course, “never” translated into “11 days,” and the Taliban moved through the countryside like a red-hot scimitar through a stick of butter, and here we are, with analogies to the fall of Saigon and images of America’s incompetence beamed around the world.
So that could have gone a little bit better.
The good news is that this catastrophe actually proves Biden’s point, which is that if the Afghan government couldn’t stand on its own now—after 20 years and $1 trillion U.S. dollars—then it never will, so we should just cut our losses and leave.
The bad news is that we spent 20 years and $1 trillion U.S. dollars, and thousands of American and Afghan casualties, as a down payment on being internationally humiliated.
There is a lot of spin now about who is responsible for this debacle. Liberals point out, correctly, that Trump’s haphazard negotiations with the Taliban laid the groundwork for chaos. Conservatives point out, correctly, that Biden made the final call and doesn’t get to cry about it.
But here’s a refresher for everybody who wants to shout, “I told you so.”
At the start of the war in 2001, almost 90 percent of Americans supported invading Afghanistan. And just a month ago, over 70 percent of Americans agreed that the United States should pull our troops.
That is overwhelming support. By comparison, only 64 percent of Americans support mask mandates, and that idea has the basis of objective science and common decency and self-preservation and… sorry, got my rants crossed.
When it comes to Afghanistan, it’s pretty clear that for once, our government did exactly what we wanted it to do. And everything turned to shit anyway. So who are you going to blame now?
So maybe it’s not about foreign policy, or Democrats versus Republicans, or military strategy. Maybe it’s about hubris, which we Americans are extraordinarily good at. Perhaps the bizarre standard of American exceptionalism provokes us to insist that we can do literally anything, and that no foreign warlord or vastly different culture or killer virus or changing climate is going to tell us what to do, damn it.
We rule the world, and that’s why our country is in such impeccable shape.
In any case, with Afghanistan falling apart, the focus has turned to evacuating refugees. Of course, bringing them to America has run into pushback from conservatives, who don’t particularly like immigrants (especially the dark-skinned ones) or Muslims (even the ones who risk their lives to help us).
And when they are not indulging in outright bigotry and xenophobia, conservatives have objected to bringing any refugees here because, supposedly, charity begins at home. This is laughable in that “the people who don’t want to help refugees because we ‘have our own poor’ also don’t want to help our own poor.”
Another common complaint is that refugees will spread the Delta variant, which is also a sick joke, considering that it is White Republican men who have morphed into one gargantuan Typhoid Mary to infect whole populations.
There is no getting around the truth that we owe the refugees more than we can offer them, just like we owe the Afghan people more than we could deliver.
However, I’m sure it will all turn out better next time. We will learn from our mistakes, and listen to the experts, and refrain from arrogant conclusions, and really analyze the options.
Well, probably not, but it’s nice to think so.