Afghanistan: A Year After

Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of the attack on Kabul airport that killed 13 American servicemen and women. I remain dismayed at the abandonment of Afghanistan by not only the U.S. but other Western nations (such as allegedly progressive Canada). I posted quite a few things last year about the events – if you go through my August and July 2021 archives (sidebar) you can have a look. But I’d like to repost almost in full my initial thoughts:

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…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.

Back to 2022, I’d like to add a bit about “forever wars.” We really are silly in the West. To us, twenty years is forever, but we ought to keep in mind that to our enemies, that same span of time is the blink of an eye. They are totally on board for a forever war and we are so shortsighted. The fact that al-Zawahiri was taken out while lollygagging on his balcony in Kabul ought to tell us as much. I am thrilled he was taken out – it is a cause for rejoicing, no matter how many years it took. But his, er, “colleagues” are not finished and we have abandoned the people of Afghanistan to such a fate. What John Podhoretz wrote a year ago remains true, and what Tom Tugendhat said a year ago remains true (and what a magnificent speech):