Meet your new Taliban, all decked out in American uniforms and using American equipment. And then there’s today’s attack. And there will be more.
Hundreds of people crowded onto a US Air Force C-17 as it left Kabul for Qatar on Sunday. According to Defense One, about 640 people were on board, far more than the suggested capacity. All I can say is bless the crew of this plane for not throwing these desperate people back onto the tarmac.
Taliban members in Kabul’s presidential palace. What adds to the horror is the fact that many on the left view this as some sort of triumph over imperialism.
So, I was saying here that Biden is compassionate and decent, but boy, the events of the past few days are making me wonder. And that statement he gave yesterday was appalling. To sum it up in a few sentences: “I am President of the United States and the buck stops here. But everyone else is to blame.” “I am the President of the United States.” “Afghans aren’t willing to die for their future, and yes, I am conveniently forgetting that 70,000 members of the Afghan military have died in this conflict.” “We will always support the Afghan people, except for starting from now.” “Did I mention I was President of the United States?” “Evil Trump made me do this, and even though I have gone back on pretty much all of his policies, I can’t go back on this one.” “I am President and I stand by my decision. Also, everyone else is to blame.” “We can’t have an endless war and endless sacrifice of American lives, and yes, I am ignoring the fact that there are only 2500 US troops in Afghanistan and that we have had troops in Korea and Europe for decades now.” “I am President of the United States and this is not my fault. Also, I am not taking questions.”
What adds to the tragedy is that all Biden had to do was nothing, as explained in this column.
There was a time in my life, from, roughly, 2005 till 2011 or thereabouts, where I posted on a website nearly every day about politics, headlines and such. Followers of the previous two incarnations of this site might remember. I honestly don’t know where I found the energy or time, but I did. I was working full-time as a journalist then – as opposed to my current occasional piece in the Wall Street Journal – which might have helped in that I felt motivated to communicate, as it was how I made a living. I was also single, which perhaps meant I had more free time. (But did it really mean that? I am not certain.) I don’t feel the need to voice views as strongly these days, but for the things that catch my fancy. What I mostly said back then was, “the West is f****d.” I said it in different ways and in various permutations, but the gist was consistent.
And today, I’m back on topic. I am dismayed at the U.S. departure from Afghanistan. (And yes, I know Canada buggered off from there, as well – seven years ago and an equally bad decision.) This is, I think, a colossal mistake. The Biden Administration were going to have the final soldiers leave on September 11th – an unbelievably tasteless and ghoulish choice. They have, thankfully, altered course on the date. But they are still abandoning Afghanistan and not just women and girls there – much focus has been placed on that, understandably – but so many men who will also suffer. In the aughts, I spent a lot of time – or so I recall – defending George W. Bush and I am happy to still do so. I lost “friends” over my views and I am fine with that. Bush has been dignified since he left office, never intruding or commenting on what his successors have done. He has put his energy into positive things. So the fact that he has spoken out about the Afghanistan decision tells you how deeply he must believe it is not the right path. (FYI, good interview here with W on German TV about Afghanistan and other matters, including the record of Angela Merkel.)
So here I am writing, in 2021, about it all once more – is the West still f****d? Well, the song remains the same, and as I did in those days, I will link to a couple of good pieces about Afghanistan – one from Terry Glavin and one from Andrew McCarthy. For what it is worth, I have liked Biden’s comments on Cuba and I was happy that he appeared to support Israel during Hamas’ most recent acts of violence (of course, he should have been unequivocal). He is an empathetic, decent man (like W) and it is nice to see him resist the Squad – he does not resist them enough, though, likely for reasons of political expediency.
Thinking about Afghanistan these days, a Philip Larkin poem comes to mind. I’ll leave you with it.
Homage to a Government
Next year we are to bring all the soldiers home
For lack of money, and it is all right.
Places they guarded, or kept orderly,
Must guard themselves, and keep themselves orderly
We want the money for ourselves at home
Instead of working. And this is all right.
It’s hard to say who wanted it to happen,
But now it’s been decided nobody minds.
The places are a long way off, not here,
Which is all right, and from what we hear
The soldiers there only made trouble happen.
Next year we shall be easier in our minds.
Next year we shall be living in a country
That brought its soldiers home for lack of money.
The statues will be standing in the same
Tree-muffled squares, and look nearly the same.
Our children will not know it’s a different country.
All we can hope to leave them now is money.
A memorial for the Canadian soldiers who died in Afghanistan was unveiled in private – even families of the dead soldiers were not invited — and is not open to the public. This is madness. Christie Blatchford has her say, though I think my late brother said it best when he called his blog “Life in a Silly Little Country.”
Important, in light of Chilcot, to remember the following: Saddam Hussein was the war criminal. Not Tony Blair and not George Bush. And neither Bush nor Blair lied their countries into a war. The Chilcot Report says nothing of the kind. Read it.
I miss Hitchens! A good moment to re-read these words of his:
When Tony Blair took office, Slobodan Milosevic was cleansing and raping the republics of the former Yugoslavia. Mullah Omar was lending Osama bin Laden the hinterland of a failed and rogue state. Charles Taylor of Liberia was leading a hand-lopping militia of enslaved children across the frontier of Sierra Leone, threatening a blood-diamond version of Rwanda in West Africa. And the wealth and people of Iraq were the abused private property of Saddam Hussein and his crime family. Today, all of these Caligula figures are at least out of power, and at the best either dead or on trial. How can anyone with a sense of history not grant Blair some portion of credit for this? And how can anybody with a tincture of moral sense go into a paroxysm and yell that it is he who is the war criminal? It is as if all the civilians murdered by al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Iraq and Afghanistan are to be charged to his account. This is the chaotic mentality of Julian Assange and his groupies.
That is moral clarity, people. My late brother had it, too. Really miss the wisdom of both of those men.