The tragedy in Afghanistan has prompted much finger pointing among the political class and musings over lessons by the chattering and scribbling classes. One obvious lesson is that one does not become involved in a part of the world where the British empire and the Soviet Union met defeat. Yet, to quote the great American sage Yogi Berra, this was déjà vu all over again. The desperate airborne evacuation from Kabul was an eerie replay of the chaotic skedaddle from Saigon. The finger pointing is especially rich. Everybody at this point wanted out. This includes Donald Trump, Joe Biden’s handlers, and the military. Moreover, Afghanistan was “lost” the moment the Bush administration decided to stay for some nation building exercises and to get the production of opium back online. The Obama administration's Afghan legacy was the killing of non-combatants via drones. Trump initiated the withdrawal of American troops, for this rare piece of common sense he has been fingered by some on the Left as the man who “lost” Afghanistan. Trump at least had a plan for withdrawal. Biden’s handlers and the Perfumed Princes of the Pentagon (apologies to the late Colonel. David Hackworth) shelved Trump’s plan and watched as the dams of chaos broke.
There are lessons aplenty to be learned from the debacle. First, highly motivated light infantry fighting asymmetrically has an outstanding record of success against the militaries of large, technologically advanced, states. Vietnam, Northern Ireland, the continuing mess in Iraq, Afghanistan not once but twice, there is a lesson here that muscle bound militaries may do well to learn. Colonel Hackworth demonstrated in Vietnam the American ability to adapt to the asymmetrical battlefield, to “out guerilla the guerilla,” and to win. No one was interested in the lesson then; they remain uninterested today. Nation building has gravely destabilized the Middle East and Central Asia which is now poised to fall into China’s sphere of influence due to that country’s investments in the central Asia belt and road initiative. After Afghanistan will American citizens ever trust the federal government to come to their aid in a violent crisis or any dangerous regime change? The evidence suggests that stupidity should not be discounted as a causal factor in all of this, neither should its sisters, callousness, ignorance, and arrogance be overlooked. The masters of the universe who reside in Foggy Bottom have developed these vices to a high degree.
Much in American politics and state craft has been amiss for a long time. Reform efforts attempted by the Left and the Right have all resulted in miserable failure time and again. Jimmy Carter’s administration was not hampered solely by inexperience in the Byzantine world of DC politics, his administration was undermined by his own party. The Reagan Revolution was captured quickly by the statists in the Republican ranks. The movement initiated to drastically decrease the size and influence of the federal government instead was coopted by neo-conservatives to grow the government and the national debt. Subsequent presidencies, the man from Hope, W., Mr. Hope and Change, all ended the same way—little to no fundamental change in the trends: the destruction of the middle classes, the concentration of the country’s wealth into fewer and fewer hands, restrictions upon the civil liberties of the citizenry, and a foreign policy run by the cousins of Laurel and Hardy minus the happy ending.
The foundation of America’s decline at home and abroad is systemic dysfunction. The American regime is rapidly careening toward a crisis of legitimacy. A substantial portion of the American electorate refuses to unsee the attempted to coup that was Russia Gate probe. They have witnessed a large and diverse group of individuals lie with impunity at several Congressional hearings on issues foreign and domestic. The federal government’s fiscal operations are in no better shape. Professor Mark Skidmore’s work demonstrates, that 22 trillion dollars of spending is unaccounted for from just two departments, Defense (no surprises there) and Housing and Urban Development. No one has been held accountable, not one bureaucrat has been made to answer. Our military failures have been legion, yet not one senior officer with his many ribbons with oak leaf clusters for “having been there” and his “Order of the Country Club,” has been made to answer let alone resign. We have a director of the NIAID with financial conflicts of interest, we have a governor of the federal reserve with enormous power to influence securities markets who just happens to have investments in exchange traded funds whose performance correlates beautifully to the federal reserve’s easy liquidity policies. We have powerful members of Congress with direct business ties to China. Our defense procurement system is a quagmire of lobbyists, backroom deals, cost overruns and swinging doors between the military, intelligence agencies and private defense firms. The conflicts of interest are endless.
The Afghanistan debacle is more than Dick Cheney and the neo-cons taking advantage of W.’s disinterest and limited understanding of the world. It goes beyond Barack Obama’s inhumane drone attacks, or the obstruction of Trump’s withdrawal by the war hawks, or even the military’s and the Biden administration’s disgraceful, Three Stoogesesque scramble out of the country. Yes, stupidity, poor planning, malicious policy played their part in this fiasco. The reason there is a fiasco, the reason dysfunction, stupidity, and malevolence have been given free reign is simple. Far too many people in Foggy Bottom, the Pentagon, the intelligence agencies, and the military industrial complex are profiting from the dysfunction. No one has been held to account, no resignations have been tendered, no responsibility borne. The same held true for the Russia Gate palace coup, the trillions in unaccounted federal spending uncovered by Catherine Austin Fitts and Mark Skidmore, a most dubious election, and finally a foreign policy disaster of the first order. The source is all one and the same. As long as powerful politicians, generals, and corporate executives profit from the dysfunction and chaos they create and nurture, the afflictions of America, the dysfunction, and the country’s sad and swift decline into chaos will continue.