The American farewell to Afghanistan absent soul searching and accountability

There has been so much reporting as the US exited Afghanistan and ended its so called War on Terror after 20 years. It’s been a slog trying to find a piece of reporting which sums up the disaster which America allowed itself to be sucked into. The following sums it up succinctly.

Excerpted from The Daily Beast 8.30.2021 –

The last American plane left Afghanistan on Monday after more than a decade of lazy showrunners letting self-proclaimed experts go on about how the Afghan government was making progress and the nation’s security forces were building capacity and securing the country.

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If the truth had been widely known—that after 20 years, the country we called Afghanistan was totally and essentially dependent on the U.S. military, and could not survive a single month without it—it would have prompted deep soul-searching and some reasonable calls for accountability.

The collapse of Afghanistan demonstrated that the country I imagined when I was deployed here was also a lie, just another storyline. It has been extraordinary to watch how in the intervening weeks, rather than facing up to the delusion that we entertained for 20 years, nearly everyone with a hand in this mess has done everything they could to shift the blame elsewhere.

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Now, it turns out, that what we called Afghanistan was always a fiction—a proxy of the United States, dependent on our military and doomed to failure without it.

And because the show is a ratings hit again, however briefly and terribly, the war is ending with those same “experts” jamming the airwaves with malarky since they’re the only people the TV news bookers and assigning editors know to call. Fulminating against how the withdrawal has been carried out, they slake their anger and hide their embarrassment at having been so wrong for so long with brazen half-truths and outright falsehoods.

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The overall effect is to wear American citizens out, to have viewers throw up their arms in exhaustion, and to deny President Joe Biden and those in favor of the withdrawal any measure of satisfaction for an unequivocal good for the country and its long term foreign policy prospects. To do that, they depend on American ignorance about Afghanistan and disinterest in the history of the country during our occupation of it. On American TV, the war is just one storyline among many in what was the Bush show, and then the Obama show, and then the Trump show, and now the Biden show.
But this is not merely a storyline. The real world and the details matter—it’s just a question of finding the ones that are truly significant. It’s a good thing to take stock after a disaster. The question is if we are going to learn things that may help prevent future disasters or repeat the lies that led us to this one.
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Certainly, some leaders were capable of and interested in considering the significance of Afghanistan’s near-instantaneous collapse. Admiral Mike Mullen, for example, didn’t shy away from reality. But the former chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff didn’t have much company. Most of the other people who led the war and promoted it have indulged in rationalizing, comforting counterfactuals and even outright lies.