Fighting a war is one thing. Social engineering is quite another.
Nothing better illustrates the bipartisan folly of the U.S. war in Afghanistan than the disastrously incompetent manner in which American troops were withdrawn and Taliban fighters took over.
One could support the reasonable goal of ending American involvement in what appeared to be an endless war against Taliban fighters.
But the manner in which the U.S. left — did anyone actually plan anything that mattered? — was a disaster that almost defies description and comprehension.
The tragedy was followed by farce — a delusional policy followed by an equally delusional pronouncement from a powerful elected official.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lectured the new Afghan leaders on the importance of these prehistoric figures embracing a modern feminist policy approach.
“The Taliban must know that the world is watching its actions. We are deeply concerned about reports regarding the Taliban’s brutal treatment of all Afghans, especially women and girls,” she said. “Any political settlement that the Afghans pursue to avert bloodshed must include having women at the table. The fate of women and girls in Afghanistan is critical to the future of Afghanistan. “
Unfortunately, the Taliban aren’t much for conscience-raising on women’s rights, at least as defined by Pelosi & Co. Forced marriages, mandatory burkas and denial of education lie in store for the women and girls in that tribal country.
The U.S. entered Afghanistan in pursuit of a worthy goal — to take out al-Qaida terrorists who used the country as a staging ground to launch terrorist attacks that included those on Sept. 11, 2001.
But mission creep followed military success, and it wasn’t long before unrealistic foreign-policy experts embraced a nation-building experiment aimed at turning this unstructured society into a modern-day democracy.
This kind of hubris was destined to fail, no matter how big an investment the U.S. made in Afghanistan.
There’s a rule in economics. If something cannot continue, it won’t.
Afghanistan went up in smoke as soon as this country pulled the plug on its longstanding efforts to stave off failure. Then, suddenly and to the apparent shock off all the expects who predicted otherwise, the existing government collapsed and the Taliban restored itself to the power it held before the U.S. entered the country.
President Joe Biden now is the target of tremendous and justifiable criticism for war’s fiasco finale. After all, he gave the orders that generated the chaos and collapse now on display.
But he was not the driving force behind U.S. policy there. That was the handiwork — to one degree or another — of four presidents — George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Biden.
There are many lessons to be derived from this catastrophic policy failure, some already learned and others yet to be determined.
One is that it’s easier to get into a war than it is to get out of one, and that’s true even if all goes as planned. But complications ensue when the nation’s brain trust abandons a clear and realistic goal — in this case, taking out al-Qaida — and embracing the fantasy of trying to build a modern society out of an archaic one.
There’s one more thing to add about the disaster in Afghanistan. Once more, the Americans learned to their chagrin that politicians and policymakers were serially dishonest about what happening there.
Deceit and duplicity were and continue to be the watchwords of responsible U.S. officials as they speak publicly about this unfolding disaster. Bear that in mind as they engage in more sophistry to explain why it happened and who’s to blame.