Democrats Share the Blame for Afghanistan

           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…
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20 Years After 9/11, We’re Still Morons

           If crisis creates opportunity, we couldn’t possibly have squandered the possibilities presented by 9/11 more spectacularly. We certainly couldn’t have failed its tests more completely. Twenty years after 9/11, it is clear that the United States is ruled by idiots and that we, the people, are complicit with their moronic behavior.             We had to do something. That was and remains the generic explanation for what we did in response to 9/11—invading Afghanistan and Iraq, directing the CIA to covertly overthrow the governments of Haiti, Venezuela, Belarus, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and a bunch of other countries, lamely legalizing torture, kidnapping via extraordinary rendition to Guantánamo and other concentration camps, building a drone armada and sparking a drone arms race.             Acting purely on speculation, news media was reporting as early as the afternoon of September 11 that Al Qaeda was responsible. That same day, Vice President Dick Cheney argued for invading Iraq. We began bombing Afghanistan October 7, less than…
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The Collapse of the U.S. Government

Taxes are the price we pay for government. But a government that doesn’t provide basic bureaucratic services is no government at all—and it doesn’t deserve our tax dollars. Afghan translators, and others who worked for the U.S. military and American journalists and NGOs, aren’t Americans and don’t pay taxes. But the U.S. government’s failure to process their applications for Special Immigrant Visas in a timely manner highlights the breathtaking scale of dysfunction, or non-function—to which too many Americans have become accustomed. When the Biden Administration took over in January, it inherited a backlog of 18,000 SIV applications filed by Afghans who wanted to leave before the scheduled U.S. pullout on September 11. Biden’s folks managed to process 100 a week, before stopping entirely because of a spike in Covid cases in Afghanistan (though no one has explained what the novel coronavirus has to do with immigration given the existence of vaccines and quarantines). Even if they hadn’t quit, at that…
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What Will the Taliban Do? It’s Up to Us.

           How will the Taliban govern Afghanistan? It may be up to us. The U.S. is out, but what the Biden Administration and its Western allies do in the weeks and months ahead will have a big influence on whether the Central Asian country reverts to the insular medieval barbarism of the 1990s or modernizes in order to conform to major international norms.             The Taliban is far from monolithic. They have common values: adherence to sharia law, resistance to foreign interference, the traditional Pashtun tribal code of pashtunwali. How those general values manifest as specific policies and laws will be subject to interpretation through the movement’s fluid internal politics. Divided along regional and tribal lines, an alliance between anti-imperialist Afghan nationalists motivated to protect the country’s sovereignty and Islamic fundamentalists, and partly composed of former Ghani regime soldiers and policemen who defected under pressure, the Taliban is a highly decentralized movement whose desperate leadership could tilt it toward the…
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Celebrate the Heroes Who Warned Us That Afghanistan Would Be a Disaster

            Thousands of dead Americans, tens of thousands of dead Afghans, $2 trillion down the toilet, a Taliban victory that leaves America’s international reputation in shambles. This disaster didn’t happen by itself. Political and military leaders, aided and abetted by the news media, are responsible and should be held accountable. Voters let themselves be led by the nose—and they should take a long hard look at themselves in the mirror because what they did and didn’t do caused many people to die.             Antiwar heroes deserve recognition and respect for telling us not to go into Afghanistan and, after we did, to get out despite being marginalized and ridiculed. They were lonely. Despite widespread reports of casualties among Afghan civilians and the glaring fact that the Taliban had nothing to do with 9/11, 88% of Americans—Democrats and Republicans alike—supported George W. Bush’s war three weeks after U.S. bombs began raining down on Kabul.             Let’s celebrate the good guys.            …
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Stop Listening to the Pro-War Idiots Who Got Afghanistan Wrong

           You’re going to read a lot of Afghan War postmortems in the coming days. Some have already been published.             Don’t listen to anyone who was ever in favor of occupying Afghanistan. They were wrong for thinking that the United States could have won. They were stupid to think that invading Afghanistan would prevent another 9/11, a horror for which the Taliban had zero responsibility. Afghan War supporters were immoral for supporting the bombing of civilians that were so routine that blowing up wedding parties became a joke, for backing the invasion of a sovereign state that never posed a threat to us, and for justifying the violent imposition of a corrupt puppet regime. Anyone who ever believed that going into Afghanistan was a good idea is too stupid to deserve a job in journalism, academia or military command.             Don’t listen to anyone who criticizes President Joe Biden for sticking to his promise to withdraw U.S. forces. We…
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9/11 Had Nothing to Do with Afghanistan

            Better late than never: most Americans now believe that invading Afghanistan was a mistake. But what good does it do to recognize a screw-up unless you learn from it? Failure to understand what went wrong, and why, sets you up for doing the same thing later. That’s what happened after Vietnam; rather than face up to the truth that we went there to prop up a corrupt puppet regime and exploit natural gas, we wallowed in ridiculous “Rambo” mythology about politicians stabbing our valiant warriors in the back by not allowing them to win, and libels of vicious hippies who supposedly spat on veterans returning to their hometown airports. (Never happened.)             It’s tempting to kick the dust of Afghanistan off our metaphorical boots and, as Americans prefer, look forward rather than backward. But an advanced civil society requires an after-action report. That’s what the military and other organizations do after an engagement in an intelligent effort to repeat…
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How to Stop the Next Stupid War before It Starts

            Americans are politically fractured but they agree that our longest war was a mistake. 77% of Americans, including many Republicans, told a recent CBS News poll that they agree with President Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan. That’s a reversal from the conflict’s early days, when between 85% and 90% of Americans supported the invasion.             What changed? We were lied to; now we know it. The Taliban were characterized by the news media as primitive religious fanatics, a fringe group that ruled by fear in a power vacuum created by our abandonment of the anti-Soviet mujahedin in the late 1980s. In fact they were a popular, homegrown phenomenon perfectly situated to frame themselves as a nationalist resistance organization. To whatever extent that Afghans felt “abandoned,” they wanted cash and infrastructure with no strings attached. Instead we imposed a corrupt puppet regime that they viewed as a humiliation.             The main casus belli, revenge for 9/11, fell apart after…
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The Worst Countries for Women (Afghanistan Isn’t on the List)

            Concern-trolling over the dismal plight of women in Afghanistan is powerfully appealing to liberals who look for reasons for the United States to maintain a military presence there. If and when the Taliban return to power, the warmongers argue, the bad old days of stonings, burqas and girls banned from school will come back—and it’ll be our fault because we didn’t stick around.             Outrage over women’s inequality is often only ginned up in the service of some other aim, like invading Afghanistan or banning transwomen from high school girls’ sports teams. Scratch the thin veneer of phony feminism and the true agenda, which has nothing to do with women or girls, is quickly exposed.             You may be surprised to learn that, according to a U.S. News & World Report analysis of data provided by the United Nations, Afghanistan isn’t among the ten worst countries for women. Which nations do have the worst gender inequality? A list of…
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The Taliban’s Dramatic Military Victory

            Now that President Biden has pulled the U.S. military out of Afghanistan, it’s clear that we have little to show for more than $2 trillion and thousands of soldiers killed over two decades of occupation. We will soon be back where we were on September 10, 2001, when the Taliban governed Afghanistan. Afghan government troops have neither the will nor the training to protect their corrupt leaders in Kabul. Defeat of an Afghan government sinking in passivity and denial will occur within months or weeks. Soldiers of the regime installed by the administration of George W. Bush and propped up by his successors are deserting and fleeing across the border to Tajikistan. Taliban troops have surrounded and briefly taken over both Kunduz, a city whose wobbly back-and-forth allegiances make it an Alsace-like wartime bellwether, and Herat, long considered unconquerable because it was controlled by Ishmail Khan, a former Northern Alliance warlord long considered the nation’s fiercest and most competent…
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