The airwaves and cyber-space are filled with clamorous breast-beating about the debacle of Afghanistan. All sympathy, empathy and heartfelt condolences to the people of that woe-begotten nation. They are in for some very bloody times under the murderous fanaticism of the Taliban.
The only up-side to this is that Americans will no longer be serving and dying in a cause which the Afghan government and the Afghan security forces seem to have abandoned years ago.
W/Cheney/Rumsfeld’s decision to invade Afghanistan caused existential shivers to convulse the spines of many observers. The prospect of invasion was akin to stomping on a hornet’s nest while naked and blindfolded. Nothing good would come of this; ask the Russians. Ask the British. Ask the Pakistanis. Ask the Persians. Ask anyone, including the Afghan people.
Of course, ferreting out Osama bin Laden was a legal necessity but that righteous goal was thwarted by the GOP neocons (i.e. Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz ) and their scatterbrained determination to invade Iraq. Talk about doubling down on a calamitous bungle! The invasion of Afghanistan, at least, had a cogent focus; get bin Laden and destroy Al Qaeda. Invading Iraq was based on lies and lunacy driven by a specious ideology.
The invasion of Afghanistan started with a focus; a vengeful one, certainly, partially blinded by self-righteousness and stone-cold fear but there was a focus. That focus was blurred and then discarded in the rush to unseat Saddam Hussein. Rummy had promised that Americans would be greeted with floral bouquets. Needless to say, that was not how things went down, but that’s another gut-wrenching story
It wasn’t until 2011 that bin Laden was found living in Abbottabad, Pakistan and ‘dealt with’ by Navy Seals. By that time, the quagmire had vacuum-sealed American boots to the ground in an ill-advised and ill-fated exercise in nation building while Hamid Karzai and his cronies suckled on the rich teat that America provided. Meanwhile, with American attention now drawn to the debacle of Iraq, the Taliban recovered from its bloody nose and grew in strength.
‘Inevitable’ is a word bandied about by many these days. Reinhold Niebuhr may have claimed that ‘Nothing is inevitable’ but the emendation by A. J. P. Taylor is most fitting here: ‘Nothing is inevitable until it happens.’
‘It’ – the inevitable – has finally happened in Afghanistan. That is was inevitable does not ameliorate the suffering the Afghan people will continue to undergo. Nor does it essay as worthless the blood and treasure spent on that woe-begotten country.