If anyone hasn’t heard about it by now, “our” government has been lying about the lack of progress being made in the seemingly eternal war being fought in Afghanistan. In the 18 years of the longest war in U.S. history, more than $1 trillion has gone down the drain, along with thousands of lives, in a bloody mess that was and is going nowhere.
On Dec. 9, The Washington Post published a series entitled “The Afghanistan Papers,” drawn from documents produced by one of our alphabet soup agencies, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). SIGAR’s “Lessons Learned” reports are composed of interviews with hundreds of U.S. officials, diplomats, and military personnel, as well as their Afghan counterparts. Their contents should finally convince every honest citizen of flyover land that nothing but self-serving, cynical propaganda emanates from the environs of Babylon-on-the-Potomac.
The bottom line is that the powers-that-be—the Deep State, the Swamp, or whatever moniker you can come up with for the D.C. Leviathan—knew very well that the war in Afghanistan was a disaster, but kept repeating the same lies over and over anyway. Nobody wanted to learn any lessons from the Afghan experience, and the SIGAR reports, the first of which was published in 2016, were suppressed until now.
A quick review of media coverage of SIGAR’s reports tells us plenty about why they were dumped down the memory hole. For starters, one official from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) estimated that 90 percent of the $133 billion allocated for rebuilding Afghanistan was wasted. USAID and other agencies had been given lots of cash, so they spent it, even if the aims were vague and the projects dubious. It was easy for corrupt Afghan bureaucrats and the warlords supposedly on the U.S. side to make off with lots of greenbacks. There was no strategy for fighting the war, no clear idea of who the enemy was, and no consensus on war aims—so there was no way to truly measure “progress.” The “surge” of 2009-2011 failed, but the heat was on to say it was a success, so the spin machine went to work. The metrics cited to claim that we were winning were massaged and presented in the best possible light. An increase in U.S. casualties, for instance, was spun as evidence that our troops were ratcheting up pressure on our opponents. Neither the military leadership nor the political establishment wanted to hear bad news, so they didn’t.
You’d think that with such a scoop on their hands, the mainstream media machine would have made even more of the Afghanistan Papers than they have, but since the bulk of the lying and deception was perpetrated during the Bush-Obama era, and The Donald is on record questioning the wisdom of U.S. involvement in that Central Asian dust bowl, the story has been getting short shrift. What’s more, the war has benefitted one of Leviathan’s largest appendages, the national security apparatus.
We also should not underestimate the role globalist ideology has played in the Afghanistan debacle: The war has helped satisfy the messianic urges of our “woke” bureaucracy and its political front men. The D.C. hive didn’t have an Afghanistan plan or an exit strategy. But, as with all revolutionaries, it felt in its collective gut that sheer will and an assertion of power, together with media spin, would do the trick. Afghan women needed driver’s licenses, after all, and to assert their “reproductive rights.” Afghanistan, like Iraq, became a petri dish for the Empire’s experiments. Globo-democracy was on the march, and there were plenty of players on the worldwide Risk board that needed to be countered, blocked, cultivated, or subverted—Russia, Pakistan, Iran, and India—as well as lots of iron rice bowls that had to be protected. Careers were on the line.
Back in the 1990s, when yours truly was working at one of those D.C. alphabet soup agencies, the late Joe Sobran once asked me why Washington couldn’t mind its own business. Weren’t there plenty of domestic problems the ever-expanding bureaucracy could throw money at? My answer to the great columnist was short and simple: Playing Lawrence of Arabia and Jack Ryan was a lot of fun. I had done some of that myself, and knew how gratifying it could be. Domestic issues were boring, comparatively speaking, and there were plenty of affirmative action hires to take care of them. The real fun of agency work was in the globe-trotting, clinking glasses with luminaries in world capitals, schmoozing with the generals at NATO HQ, visiting the world’s outback and returning with tales of adventure, planning the next move in the Great Game, and— also not to be underestimated—avoiding the dull life of middle-class domesticity. Joe told me I should write about that.
I would be remiss in not mentioning Red-State America’s own culpability in the depressing spectacle of forever war. Part of the story originates in our own idealization of “the military,” a phenomenon that developed as a reaction to the campus radicalism of the Vietnam War era. “Support our boys in Vietnam” was a bumper sticker I remember seeing back in the day, and people who might have otherwise questioned the necessity of that war reacted angrily to the arrogant, flag burning Che Guevara wannabes on our college campuses. The lines in our own culture war seemed to be clearly drawn. Over time, as political correctness took hold amid the constant drumbeat of media propaganda belittling our country’s past, we ourselves mistakenly began to imagine the vast bureaucratic machine that is the U.S. military as the symbol and repository of our most deeply held values, and as a guardian of tradition and masculine virtues. “Support the troops!” too often meant “Support the war!”
Middle America’s idealization of the military became a safe way for ordinary people to express their patriotism, which dovetailed with the plans of our revolutionary elite perfectly, making globalist imperialism’s task much easier. The Swamp’s minions and their media cheerleaders could wave the flag like a red cape before a bull in the arena, and Middle America was all too ready to charge. In the eyes of many ordinary people, questioning the Gulf War or its sequel seemed to echo the slogans of anti-war radicals of the past. And the warmongers’ propaganda was quite effective: Bush I and company convinced us that Saddam Hussein’s bad guys were bayoneting babies in Kuwaiti hospitals, and the Bush II administration’s propaganda, with its tales of imaginary mushroom clouds over our cities, topped that. It worked like a charm!
Whether we wish to acknowledge this or not, our victories in two world wars and the Cold War were extremely costly, quite apart from blood and treasure spent. Americans became conditioned to believe that it was always 1941, and that American troops sent to the far corners of the earth for obscure reasons were defending “our freedom.” Meanwhile, the Deep State grew like a malignant tumor on the body of what had once been a proud republic designed to stand aloof from the world’s conflicts.
At its inception, the Afghanistan intervention was at least partly motivated by a righteous desire to retaliate against those who had perpetrated the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but it became clear early on that the war machine and its backers had no intention of letting up, even if Osama was found and killed, as he eventually was. Globalism has its own imperatives, and actually defending American soil and the people of this country didn’t figure into the strategizing going on in the Capital of the Whole World. Muslim immigration actually increased after 9/11, the border was not secured once and for all, “W” urged us to go shopping in order to defy the terrorists, and it was on to Iraq! Support the troops! Many of us had come to accept a role as the world’s policeman as our Superpower due. The realization of what it all meant has come late to us, perhaps too late: endless war for the purpose of doing anything but defending America, and the transformation of what had been our homeland into an experimental laboratory and arsenal of the globalist project. Let’s pray we can still salvage something from the wreckage.
Two thoughts come to mind as the Trump impeachment farce drags on, along with the war. First: If Trump attempts to use the Afghanistan Papers as a basis for pulling out, the Swamp will likely find reasons to oppose it and might well block his efforts, as it has before. Second: Maybe, just maybe, a lot of us will come to finally understand that our young men (and God help us, our young women) are needed desperately here at home. Young man, you say you want to do something for your country, for your people, something that requires sacrifice, bravery, and a daily struggle against the odds? Come home, get married, have a family, and raise your children in the fear of God. It’s not glamorous, and it’s often not much fun, but it can be the most fulfilling thing a young person sets out to do in this life. The war is here, not over there.