Monday, September 06, 2021

Unclear on Afghanistan

From an email I had sent:

I've got a lot of conflicting thoughts about Afghanistan. If anyone doesn't have conflicting thoughts about it, then I doubt they're trying to think seriously about it.

Here's one observation though, that in the blame game for what's happened there, I see very few people blaming Afghanistan. I recognize that real-world democracies don't work like they taught us in elementary school, but both the elites and the normal people of a country have to take some responsibility for their country's fate when they have a choice in the matter.

This might sound like "Screw the Afghani people for not fixing their country in 20 years, we're right to leave." I actually disagree with leaving. As a historian, you know that 20 years isn't a long time. I think Afghanistan was better off with us there (I could care less about The Blob's stupid fixation with credibility and resolve), very few American soldiers had died in the few years, and even the expense isn't that high any more. There was a war in Afghanistan but America wasn't at war there.

But still, it's their country. The parallel I draw is American responsibility for Trump in 2016. We didn't vote for him, we voted for Clinton. But we tolerated an undemocratic Electoral College system that made Trump possible with only anemic efforts to fix it. So we own the result.

The Afghani people didn't vote for the Taliban and I'm pretty sure the majority don't support them, but they did have some choice in both their government and in whether to fight the Taliban.

While the left side of the political spectrum (where I reside) doesn't like to blame "the people," we all know humans are a combination of good and bad, and our better angels don't always win. The people of Afghanistan are obviously in for a bad time, especially women, but I hope they find a chance to seize their country and future back in the future. Other poor countries have done that dating to India in 1948, so it's not impossible.

One last thing - the only mistake I'll blame Biden for, after deciding to leave, is to withdraw all soldiers by the end of the fighting season instead of waiting to the end to start withdrawing soldiers. Probably that would have only bought Afghanistan six months, but what's wrong with six months of a better life? More broadly, the Afghanistan mission did bring a better life to most of the people in Afghanistan for a generation. That's not nothing, despite how things are right now.


And for an alternative (but also unclear) opinion, the New Yorker on Afghanistan.


Thomas said...

It's not as if the Afghans chose to be staging ground between the Soviet Union and USA during the Cold war or be the target for 20 years of US occupation, so the comparison to Trump is pretty lame.

Barton Paul Levenson said...

Trump left the Kurds to be slaughtered.
Biden got Afghans out.
You're right, Thomas, there's no comparison.


"It's not as if the Afghans chose to be staging ground between the Soviet Union and …"

Stop right there.

Having long since colonized Afghanistan's nearest, next-nearest, and next-next-nearest Central Asian neighbors, the Soviet Empire seized Kabul in 1978.

While he Afghans drove them out without any help from American troops, the aid we belatedly rendered was alas preceded by the Saudi dispatch of a cohort of gung ho Islamists like OBL.

The cold war had little to do with the jihad the Soviets unwisely asked for, and got.

angech said...

There are a lot of ways to improve conditions for people in the alternative third world.
The Afghani's no doubt see a lot of ways that the barbarous and backwards overly religious American way of life could be improved as well.
Perhaps they could invade us and show us the right way to behave.
They could stop the mistreatment of women forced to work in the "entertainment industry".
Eliminate homelessness and violence and poverty in the ghettos.
And get rid of the electoral college system.

I think the American invasion was primarily a save face exercise after 9/11. Done with more grace than the Chinese Russian or French would have done.
But they did not go in to improve women's rights, to stop the opium trade or introduce a new better way of living for the Afghan's.
Your support of the invasion is commendable as I would expect 99% of Americans to be proud of their country's actions.
I would hope my mild sarcasm throws the other light on the situation.

Thomas said...

Dear, Clmate Wars. s that how history is rewritten nowadays.

"According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahiddin began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 1979. But the reality, closely guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention"
- Zbigniew Brzezinski, Le Nouvel Observateur 1998.


No go, Thomas- that came six years after Daoud's Parcham-sponsored coup, and the rise of the (also Soviet sponsored) Khalq People's Party. The communists united in 1976, and a civil war erumpted between them shortly thereafter - the Wiki precis ofwhat followed is :

Parcham reunited with Khalq and following he Saur Revolution of 1978 many Parchamites were represented in the initial government. Very soon after the revolution, Parchamites were purged from the government by the Khalqist leadership of Nur Muhammad Taraki, and the regime eventually went into a reign of terror, jailing and executing many Parchamites. The Parcham faction seized power in the country after the toppling of Hafizullah Amin in December 1979 by the Soviet Union's Operation Storm-333 which supported them. The government under Parcham leader Babrak Karmal nevertheless still struggled to win popularity, and they were now low in numbers following the high number of killings commited by Khalq in 1978-1979.