“Truth is treason in the empire of lies.” Ron Paul
It’s a little hard to nail down the exact date for when the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as it’s reported as “soon” after the 9/11 attacks by al Qaeda; both September and October are given as timelines. The official reason and goal for the invasion was to destroy al-Qaeda. That goal was partially achieved just a couple of months later in December 2001 during the Battle of Tora Bora where the US and its allies drove al-Qaeda out of Afghanistan and across the border into our supposed ally, Pakistan. Despite its protestations to the contrary, Pakistan gave refuge to Osama Bin Laden until his death on May 2, 2011.
So nearly a decade later, both al-Qaeda and its infamous leader were gone. Why it took a decade to do given that it only took a couple of months to drive them out of Afghanistan and into what we were told was our ally’s hands, where their leader resided for ten years before we killed him, remains a mystery. In the meantime, the US changed its goal in Afghanistan from the destruction of al-Qaeda to attacking the Taliban and setting up a puppet government under a mission entitled “Operation Enduring Freedom”; the US was now on a nation building mission, a doomed to fail one that took the US twenty years to realize. I often wondered why our antagonists like Russia and China said so little about what we were doing; perhaps they understood Napoleon’s strategic axiom that you should “Never interrupt your enemy when he’s making a mistake.”
While there’s no excuse for the abysmal mismanagement of the withdrawal by the Biden administration, the end results were as inevitable as what we experienced in Viet Nam fifty years ago. While I agree that the administration should be called to task for the embarrassing and dangerous manner in which the withdrawal was handled, the war was already lost when we elected to become involved in the politics of war lord tribalism that, other that al-Qaeda, posed no security threat to the US. As soon as al-Qaeda was pushed out, our focus should have been on Pakistan to show its allegiance to its allies and rid itself of the toxic element within its own borders.
To Biden’s credit he has consistently opposed the forever war in Afghanistan, as did Trump before him, but it was Biden who actually ended it, poorly managed but done. We are out finally of a black hole that drained and wasted our human and financial resources of a generation; but are we done with foreign interventions and nation building, and the wars that go with them? Well maybe not given the fact that the US runs 95% of the world’s foreign military bases in more than 80% of the nations on Earth. This is a very dangerous and wasteful policy that can only put this country in harm’s way again…and again…and until stopped, yes – forever.
Some time ago I read a book, more like a pamphlet written by a man named Garet Garrett, originally published back in 1952 entitled “The Rise of Empire”, in which he outlined progressive characteristics a nation will assume as it descends in to imperialism. It’s well worth the read as it’s a frightening, and considering where we are today, a prescient summary of how a nation can devolve to such a state in which they employ totalitarian methods without embracing a totalitarian ideology, not realizing that the methods are the ideology. Consider what one of this country’s greatest generals, Douglas McArthur, had to say about such foolishness: “Talk of imminent threat to our national security through the application of external force is pure nonsense. Indeed, it is a part of the general patterns of misguided policy that our country is now geared to an arms economy which was bred in an artificially induced psychosis of war hysteria and nurtured upon an incessant propaganda of fear. While such an economy may produce a sense of seeming prosperity for the moment, it rests on an illusionary foundation of complete unreliability and renders among our political leaders almost a greater fear of peace than is their fear of war.” True wisdom from a man who well knew from experience what he was talking about.
If we forget these lessons from history, then as F.A. Hayek warned “We shall not grow wiser until we learn that much that we have done was very foolish.” Statism is a cancer, it eats away at the liberty, wealth, morality and good will of a nation’s people; it thrives on wars whereas a truly free nation thrives on production. To connect the dots with my prior post, consider the observation of retired Congressman Ron Paul that “It is no coincidence that the century of total war coincided with the century of central banking.”
Lost in the hysteria following 9/11 was a report to Congress on September 10, 2001 by then U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who disclosed under oath to various committees that his department was unable to account for roughly $2.3 trillion worth of transactions. How did we forget that?!?!? Amazing what fear will do to muddle the minds even of those tasked to protect the finances of this country. Despite continued Congressional and media follow-up, no answers other than Rumsfeld blaming Pentagon mismanagement came of this. Even by today’s standards, that is a staggering loss.
Prior to WWI this country was loathed to get into foreign conflicts, although we created our own with the Spanish American War. While the destruction of the Maine was later found to be a faulty boiler explosion, and not Spanish sabotage, it was a relatively quick conflict, but one that extended American hegemony deep into Asia and Latin America, ending years of careful avoidance of foreign adventurism. It also paved the way for Wilson’s more extensive exploits, again with fabricated causes, in a European war. Oh how statists love wars!
One recent positive development is pending legislation to limit Presidential war powers. It is embedded in our history and constitution that only Congress has war powers, and legally they may not even abdicate such powers as they had done in Korea, Viet Nam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and who knows where else. It is not only our presidents who are accountable for these illegal horrors, but a national legislature lacking the moral fiber to act as the representatives of the people who elected them. They share the shame and we should call them to task to do their jobs or make way for those that will.