Democrats Share the Blame for Afghanistan

Arthur Cyr: Disaster in Afghanistan – what next?

           Joe Biden is taking heat from Democrats, not for his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan—that’s popular—but for his haphazard pullout that, self-serving Rumsfeldian stuff happens, wars end messily platitudes aside, could have been executed more efficiently. They blame George W. Bush for starting America’s longest war, arguing that what he began inexorably led to our most shocking military defeat and its humiliating aftermath.

            I am sympathetic to any and all criticism of our intervention in Afghanistan. I was an early critic of the war and got beaten up for my stance by media allies of the Bush administration. But the very same liberals who now pretend they’re against the Afghan disaster stood by when it mattered and did nothing to defend war critics because Democrats—political leaders and voters alike—went far beyond tacit consent. They were actively complicit with the Republicans’ war, at the time of the invasion and throughout the decades-long occupation of Afghanistan.

Now the deadbeat dads of defeat are trying to stick the GOP with sole paternity. This is a ridiculous attempt to rewrite history, one that damages Democratic credibility among the party’s progressive base, which includes many antiwar voters, and risks the possibility that they will make the same mistake again in the future.

            Twenty years later, it is difficult for some to believe that the United States responded to 9/11 by cultivating closer ties to the two countries with the greatest responsibility for the attacks, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and attacking a country that had nothing to do with it, Iraq and another one that had tenuous links, Afghanistan. Yet that’s what happened. And Democrats participated enthusiastically in the insanity.

The sweeping congressional authorization to use military force against Afghanistan and any other target chosen by the president (!) was introduced in the Senate three days after the attacks by Tom Daschle, the then-Democratic majority leader. Every Democratic senator supported destroying Afghanistan. So did every Democratic member of the House of Representatives except for one, Barbara Lee, who was roundly ridiculed as weak and naïve, received death threats and was denied leadership posts by her own party to punish her for refusing to play ball. The legal justification to attack the Taliban was a bipartisan affair.

            Democratic support for Bush’s war reflected popular sentiment: voters of both parties signed off on the Afghan war by wide margins. Even after weeks of bombing that featured numerous news stories about innocent Afghan civilians being killed willy-nilly, 88% of voters told Gallup that they still approved of the military action. Approval for the war peaked at 93% in 2002 and started to decline. Nevertheless, popular support still hovered around 70% throughout the 2008 presidential campaign, a number that included so many Democrats that then-Senator Barack Obama ran much of his successful primary and general election campaign on his now-obviously-moronic message that we “we took our eye off the ball in Afghanistan” when Bush invaded Iraq. “Our real focus,” Obama continued to say after winning the presidency, “has to be on Afghanistan.”

            Nine months into his first term, Obama felt so confident that Democratic voters supported the war that he ordered his surge of tens of thousands of additional soldiers above the highest troop level in Afghanistan under the Bush administration. 55% of Democrats approved of the surge. Domestic support for the war only went underwater after the 2010 assassination of Osama bin Laden by U.S. troops in Pakistan seemed to render the project moot.

            There was a strong antiwar movement based on the left throughout the Bush and Obama years—against the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of protesters marched against the Iraq war. Opposition was sustained over the years. Far fewer people turned out for far fewer protests against the Afghanistan war. It’s impossible to avoid the obvious conclusion: even on the left, people were angry about Iraq but OK with Afghanistan.

            There is nothing wrong with criticizing the Republican Party and President George W. Bush for the decision to invade Afghanistan. The war was their idea. But they never could have started their disaster, much less extended and expanded it under Obama, without full-throated support from their Democratic partners and successors.

This story has few heroes.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of a new graphic novel about a journalist gone bad, “The Stringer.” Order one today. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)


4 Comments. Leave new

  • Share the blame? Indeed, the Dem pinheads were “standing shoulder to shoulder”*** with the 2 nimrods responsible for 9/11, thus accepting their response policy … instead of having them arrested on 12Sept2001 and charged with criminal negligence and multiple counts (exact number available after body count) of manslaughter … and whatever else.
    *** this is clearly among the very highest rated cringe-worthy comments ever to be recorded from the exceptionally “talented,” cringe-worthy-utterance-emanating Dem party “leadership.” It falls somewhere between “we feel the pain we caused you” and “taking a knee while draped in Kenta cloth should get the pressure off to pass meaningful legislation – at least until the next photo op.” (on this, see recent, “Tax the Rich” dress worn to a $30,000/plate “gala.”)

  • Well, at least they weren’t subverting the democratic will of their supporters this time, eh? 😉

  • When you look at the history of how political parties fade out and die, the dems are on track to go extinct pretty soon, at least as a viable national party. I’d put in the list of all the shortcomings and problems but I don’t think the internet has room for it all. And Ted’s readers know it by heart already. See you at the midterms. My only joy will be watching the talking heads on the news laughing and laughing and laughing, until the votes start coming in, and the Kaffeeklatsch will ramp down to a somber wake.

  • The US was attacked by 19 Arabs, 15 of them Saudis. In many Saudi mosques, the Friday khutbah was that predatory loans had killed millions of Muslims, and the predatory lenders were all the people who worked in the World Trade Center. John Perkins book, “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” proves that predatory loans (for one of which he was responsible) killed many Muslims, but it is unlikely that his employers worked in the World Trade Center.
    So, on 9/12, Bush, Jr had his work cut out for him. The US desperately needed Saudi oil, so Bush, Jr had to find a scapegoat, and what country better than Afghanistan, a country recognised by only 3 nations, no seat at the UN. Perfect. And America still believes it.

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