I can’t help but make some observations of America’s involvement in Afghanistan. The United States had forces in Afghanistan for almost 20 years. During that time, we were supposedly building a strong, secular, democratic government with strong security forces.
This was done under three American Presidents: George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump. We also had members of Congress, diplomats, and foreign policy “experts” shaping how we did things in Afghanistan.
So, when U.S. troops are pulled out and everything goes south in a very short period of time, we dump on and blame everything on the guy who's only been in office for a few months?
I’m not saying President Joe Biden is blameless. Not by a long shot. However, he had plenty of help in the Afghanistan fiasco. It was the result of almost 20 years of wrong-headed policies. When he was Vice President under Barack Obama, Biden had a role in shaping those policies. As I said, he’s far from blameless, but he’s not the only one responsible for this debacle.
Another observation: no foreign power has ever been able to control Afghanistan. The British couldn't do it, and the Russians couldn't do it. Even the Mongols, as ruthless as they were, couldn’t do it. Whatever made America's leaders think we could do it?
It's not the fault of our troops. They did their job, and they did it well. We had thousands of troops deployed over there, and many lost their lives. More than anyone else, they wanted to build a strong, democratic Afghanistan. You can lay the blame for this at the feet of the politicians and their policies over the last 20 years.
It's worth noting we had more success in Afghanistan than nearly any other foreign power. We certainly had more success than the Russians did. However, if we can learn anything from the history of that region of the world, they will do what they want and they don't want foreigners telling them what to do.
It looks like that streak is still alive.
A few years ago, when Republican Jeff Flake was running for U.S. Senate, he stopped by the Pioneer for an interview. He said something that I've been thinking about the last few days. He said the people in Afghanistan did not want the war to end because they were making so much money.
Of course, it was OUR money.
I often wonder how much our military contractors made in Afghanistan. Our involvement there became a cash cow for them. I like to say big defense contractors like General Dynamics are as much on the dole as welfare mothers, but that doesn’t go over very well.
Last week, I remembered something President John F. Kennedy said shortly before he was assassinated. He was asked about South Vietnam. He said America was committed to South Vietnam, but, ultimately, the war was South Vietnam's to win or lose.
Perhaps the moral of all this is we can't fight other people's wars for them if they're not willing to fight for themselves. We also can't expect other people to fight our wars for us.
The politicians all seem to have a terrible time understanding these simple facts.