POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY CLIVE CROOK IN THE FINANCIAL TIMES
Nothing is at stake in Afghanistan.
That is, except for American pride in once more having invaded a country, killed a great many people and achieved nothing.
America didn't know what it was doing from the beginning, and it still does not know.
But it sure knows how to kill people, and the American establishment is always ready to do more killing and bombing rather than be embarrassed at its own foolishness.
It chewed up human beings in Vietnam for ten years to no purpose whatsoever beyond regard for its own violent and stupid pride.
No one else regards Afghanistan as a serious threat, else why are NATO countries constantly browbeaten by American officials into making larger commitments?
The facts of Afghanistan are rather simple if you open your mind to them.
It is not a democracy - never was and still is not - and you can never create a democracy at the barrel of a gun. Moreover, America’s own problematic claim to genuine democratic government makes it among the least suitable of instructors.
Afghanistan is one of the poorest regions on earth, affording only a hard-scrabble existence to most of its people – it always has been poor and it remains so. America has done almost nothing to turn around its economy for a brighter future, but it sure has killed a lot of people and created a lot of damage.
Like all poor, backward countries, Afghanistan remains prisoner of ancient customs not understood by modern societies, and nothing, except long-term serious economic growth, America can do will change that.
Consider even a healthily growing third-world country like India. It still has bride burning, forced marriage, and horrid treatment of widows, plus many other ghastly ancient customs it will not shake until after generations of growth.
Imagine going to 17th century Spain and telling the people they must give up the Holy Inquisition, Jews and Arabs must be tolerated as full members of society, and nuns must stop wearing hideous gigantic habits? To pose the question is to know the answer.
How much more so Afghanistan?
The warlords that now are deemed the government of Afghanistan are, most of them, no better than the Taleban in terms of modern values. Horrible acts continue all over the country, and the burka is still worn in most of the country. Some, like General Dostum, are nothing but mass murders.
Rape of boys is common everywhere, often done by translators and other helpers of Americans right in front of the eyes of troops. The Americans and others tolerate these hideous acts, for the sake of keeping allies and helpers, acts which would earn their perpetrators long prison sentences and public hatred anywhere in the West.
Alliance with those warlords is the only thing that allowed America its cheap “victory.” Cheap in American blood, that is, not Afghan blood.
The Taleban never was America’s enemy, the perpetrators of 9/11 were mostly Saudis, and they were mostly in America on legitimate visas, being part of a secret CIA training scheme that backfired badly.
Most of the terrorist incidents since the invasions – like the London underground bombing - are just the work of homegrown men angry and frustrated at the injustice of what has happened, at the tens of thousands of their fellow Muslims killed with no thought or care.
The CIA never took any responsibility for 9/11. America never took any responsibility. But Afghanistan was invaded – according to experts, just the deaths in Kabul from bombing were at least 50,000 – and the Taleban was dispersed. Some achievement.
Now America bombs and kills regularly in Pakistan, claiming, just as it claimed about Cambodia during its bloodbath in Vietnam. People under no charges are regularly assassinated along with any family members and bystanders, a la Israel’s regular extra-judicial killings, activity indistinguishable from that of former South America juntas who regularly made people "disappear."
America is only making enemies and de-stabilizing still another land.