What is happening right now in Afghanistan is horrifying. It’s awful. Tens of thousands of people will be slaughtered, the women and children of the area will be sent backwards in history hundreds of years, chaos and brutality and backwards ass theology will rule the day, and it will be awful for a long time to come. And it was all entirely predictable and completely inevitable:
Taliban fighters captured the major city of Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan on Saturday, sending Afghan forces fleeing, and drew closer to Kabul as Western countries scrambled to evacuate their citizens from the capital.
It was the latest important victory for the hardline militants, who have swept through the country in recent weeks as U.S.-led forces withdrew. Kabul and Jalalabad, in eastern Afghanistan, are now the only big cities not in Taliban hands.
U.S. President Joe Biden said on Saturday he was authorizing the deployment of 5,000 troops to help evacuate citizens and ensure an “orderly and safe” drawdown of U.S. military personnel. A U.S. defence official said that included 1,000 newly approved troops from the 82nd Airborne Division.
We’ll see a lot of blame thrown at Joe Biden over the next couple of months, and no doubt right-wingers will blame him for “losing” Afghanistan, but most of it is bullshit. Are there some things that could possibly have been done better? Sure. Much of the bitching by our warrior class is focused on the timing of the withdrawal (often ignoring the fact that it was Trump who set the original date), saying we should have waited until the winter when the majority of the Taliban will be at home and it won’t be “the fighting season,” the name for what you and I know as summer and fall. And I suppose he could have. And then we would be reading all of these headlines next spring and summer instead of right now. That’s the thing about delaying the inevitable, it is, in fact, just a delay. This was going to happen no matter when we left and there is nothing anyone can say that will convince me otherwise.
Just like every other empire that before us tried to go in and “fix” things in Afghanistan, we have cut and run and will get to live through the ignominy of gruesome pictures of fallen innocents and backwards goatherders driving around in our HMMW’s and other abandoned equipment, and we’ll hear about the damage to America’s image and reputation, and what not, but this was baked in from the moment we decided to go there and stay in the first place after failing to do the one thing we set out to do.
There is a reason terms like “mission creep” exist. There is a reason when I was a young E-3 my tank commander and Troop CO gave me reading lists, and included on those lists were books like Bernard Fall’s Street Without Joy and A Bright Shining Lie and All Quiet on the Western Front and About Face and so many others that sit on my bookshelf to this day. There were lessons to be learned. And we didn’t learn them, myself included. I will grapple with my own culpability the rest of my life.
And I know that my seeming nonchalant writing here about this can seem smarmy and irritating, and I hope that is not what you are taking from this. It’s horrible. I feel terrible for all those innocents. I feel terrible for all our guys who served there and are dealing with trauma and injuries, barely getting their lives back together finally, only to turn on the tv, stare at the horrible images unfolding while glancing at the scarred stumps where their legs and arms used to be, realizing everything they gave everything for has turned out to be nothing.
But while this horror is occurring right now, we can still take advantage of the opportunity to learn this lesson once more. Maybe this will save us a couple generations of needless military adventurism, like Vietnam did before we went and fucked up our memories in Gulf War I and thought war was easy again. Stop listening to the war pigs. Ignore them. Stop listening to the Kagans and Ledeens and the Cheneys and the Kristols and the Tom Cottons and the Friedmans and that one curly hair young twat name Michael something or other who was all over the tv in the late aughts. Don’t let this happen again.
The only people who benefited from the last twenty years were Haliburton and Lockheed Martin.