Afghanistan — The disaster everyone could foresee
The videos coming from Afghanistan have been one of the hardest things I've ever had to deal with in my adult life. As most of you can tell from my name, half of my family comes from Kabul, Afghanistan. Some of my relatives are still there in Kabul.
Let us not lie to ourselves: the debacle unfolding in Afghanistan was 100% predictable — anyone who could not see this coming is lying to himself.
I am no foreign policy expert. But I know Afghans well — grew up with them. The thought that they could actually want democracy or some type of constitution was noble but very naïve. While I enjoyed seeing pictures and videos of their Loya Jirgas (their term for a political convention), the fact is, that country cannot easily be fixed, if at all. And the sooner that some of our people in the State Department and some of our "experts" get this, the better off we will be. Yes, we did have to go in there and remove the Taliban after 9/11, but pretty much everyone (other than the Liz Cheneys of the world) would agree we spent too much time there.
Afghans as a general rule cannot handle democracy. It is foreign to how they think and process information. Afghans tend to look up to one local elder as their boss, and everything flows from the wisdom or lack of wisdom of that elder. The concept of free will is foreign to Afghans. Changing this behavior to put trust in a local government system and court system is not going to occur.
Approximately 10–13 years ago, 1 trillion dollars of lithium and other minerals were found in Afghanistan. Think of the number of hospitals and schools that could have been built. Or think of the other investments that the Afghans could have made with a trillion dollars. But they would rather follow their warlords and their elders than modernize. They do not trust people who are not from their own tribe. Some of this is learned behavior; some of this is just plain bad business sense. But they would rather be poor and proud and always at war with someone than live a better existence.
This behavior will not be changed anytime in the near future. So, while many thought democratizing Afghanistan was a real possibility, the fact is that most Afghans do not want democracy in their own country. (For the record, my father is a great American, but that's also because he was something of an outcast in Kabul — he wasn't a "go with the flow" kinda guy. My dad naturally stands up to power and corruption. That sort of independent thinking was part of why he had to leave Kabul in the early '60s. It is also what makes him a great American.) My dad came to this country and became the embodiment of the American dream. My father had to overcome many trials to get to this country and then to succeed. But he succeeded because he believed and still does believe in something more than himself — something that the majority of Afghans cannot understand.
The Bush administration was in a rather bizarre bind after 9/11. They had to take out the Taliban. And they knew that to take out the Taliban would mean doing some rebuilding of the country. However, this should not have been a 20-year open-ended commitment. Just like an addict who can't get off the meth, you can't make someone do what you want him to do, even if it's in his own best interest. There is a saying among Afghans: you can't buy their loyalty, but you can rent it for a little while. These words are prophetic and sad — yet also so very true. Many Afghans also do not understand the concept of working together; thus, the concept of trying to make an army out of a group of people who view themselves as members of a tribe rather than as a united country was bound to fail.
For the record, I oppose open-ended commitments of American armed forces. Our Army/Navy/Air Force/Marines are supposed to do a job, do it well, and get out of there. Open-ended commitments that last for decades often do more harm than good. And likely the 20-year commitment here did more harm than good. Trump was right to want to leave Afghanistan, and while I can't blame Biden for wanting to get out, the fact is that Biden did not listen to his military brass — thus the end result.
G.W. Bush never really did much with the fact that Pakistan was doing everything it could to undermine American influence over the goings-on in Afghanistan. Quite difficult to handle a problem when an important country in the region is doing everything it can to undermine you. Why we keep sending these people billions of dollars is beyond comprehension. Only a "foreign policy expert" could explain this to you. "Foreign Policy Expert" = same type of person who gave us the Afghan debacle over the weekend.
Anyone with half a brain could have seen that once the U.S. forces left, the Taliban would take over in a matter of weeks. So if you figure you can't stop the Taliban from taking over, that's fine. It's a rough decision, a horrible decision, but an adult decision. But at least have an action plan in place to make sure we aren't sending troops back in there to rescue Americans. The only thing that makes sense is that Biden and his people didn't want to admit that the Taliban would take over — so they dithered and did nothing — and the end result was we had to send American troops back in there to rescue our embassy and the several thousand American citizens who lived in or near Kabul. American power, which had been tattered during Vietnam and the Carter years, had been rebuilt by Reagan. Bush 43 may have bungled Iraq, and Obama looked weak, but Trump was a strong president who knew how to take on our enemies in the Middle East. Does anyone with a brain really think the Taliban would try to seize the U.S. embassy under President Trump? Absolutely not!
However, in just a few days, Team Biden tossed everything away, and now the end result is that our enemies in the Middle East will be more likely to launch terror attacks on us. Heck, even CNN and Obama's own people agree that Team Biden screwed this whole thing up.
Oh, and maybe General Milley would be better off reading up on real-world history and ceasing to whine about "white rage." After all, General Milley predicted that the Afghan military would be able to defeat the Taliban just a few months ago. We spent two trillion dollars for the heart-wrenching videos we saw over the weekend.
A few other things.
- To those of you in the Armed Forces who tried to free my father's homeland from Islamic fascism, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am only sorry that the people in that country cannot appreciate what you were trying to do.
- To those of you who believed the hype that Joe Biden was this foreign policy expert and the wise adult in the room, well, you were wrong — and should have known this before voting for him.
- You cannot fix something or someone who is perfectly happy remaining broken. Afghanistan will always be a problem.
- Everyone's heart should be breaking for the innocent women and children who will suffer under Taliban control. However, one must wonder how the Taliban will feel about using the proper pronouns.
- Last but not least, we are only discussing Kabul. Imagine what the rest of the country will be like. Don't be shocked if there are over a million executions in the years to follow.
John Massoud is a Member of the Strasburg, Virginia Town Council in Virginia; the chairman of the 6th Congressional District Republican Party in Virginia, and the former chair of the Shenandoah County Tea Party.
Photo credit: YouTube screen grab (cropped).
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