History Keeps Repeating Itself, And People Keep Ignoring It

Normally, I write a blog and then share the link on Facebook. Today, I wrote a Facebook post and am sharing it on the blog. I’ve tried to shy away from anything overtly political on this site since the 2020 U.S. elections, which contributed to personal rifts that might never mend. But honestly, my homeland is going mad over this whole Afghanistan situation — the media, the politicians, the citizenry. And it seems frankly ridiculous, given the historical record, that people are shocked by what’s happening. So I had to unload some of my thoughts. Maybe somebody reading this will gain a little more insight into why understanding history is so important.

About this whole Afghanistan thing….

Never once did I think the nation-building forces there would succeed in turning Afghanistan into a democracy, or whatever they wanted it to be. That’s not because I’m so smart, but because it doesn’t take a genius to figure out some countries you can’t just march into and bend to your will, and Afghanistan is one of those countries. Just read a little history.

The Russians couldn’t do it. The Brits couldn’t do it. And now the Americans couldn’t do it.

An article from The Diplomat put it thusly:

“Afghanistan is a notoriously difficult country to govern. Empire after empire, nation after nation have failed to pacify what is today the modern territory of Afghanistan, giving the region the nickname ‘Graveyard of Empires,’ even if sometimes those empires won some initial battles and made inroads into the region…The closest most historical empires have come to controlling Afghanistan was by adopting a light-handed approach, as the Mughals did. They managed to loosely control the area by paying off various tribes, or granting them autonomy. Attempts at anything resembling centralized control, even by native Afghan governments, have largely failed.”

It was always folly on the part of Bush II, Cheney, Rumsfeld & Co. to believe they could succeed where so many others have failed.

Blaming Biden for the current chaos in Afghanistan would be like blaming Ford for the chaos that happened after the fall of Saigon in 1975. Vietnam was LBJ’s legacy because he escalated the war there. And Afghanistan is Bush II’s legacy because he started and escalated the war there.

Biden clearly had bad intel if he thought the Afghanistan army would maintain order, but he was right to pull the troops out, just as Trump was right when he said he wanted to pull the troops out (which he probably denies saying now, but whatever).

The U.S. should have ensured that all of America’s allies were safely evacuated first — just as it should have ensured that America’s allies in Vietnam were safely evacuated first.

But there is absolutely nothing surprising about what we are seeing there right now, and anyone who acts surprised and/or shocked hasn’t been paying close enough attention to history.

And my one hope is that history will finally teach the U.S. a lesson: You can’t control every part of the globe, so stop trying. Not everyone wants democracy. Not everyone wants “freedom.” Not everyone wants the shiny houses and the beach vacations.

Those people who died falling from the planes in Afghanistan didn’t die because they dreamed of living in America. They died because they knew if they stayed in Afghanistan they would be hunted down.

Nobody won anything in Afghanistan — except for the defense industry, which raked in the cash.

Stop arguing with each other over who’s to blame, because everyone is to blame. I’m to blame. I fully backed the invasion after 9/11. I was all-in on it. Exactly one Congresswoman opposed it — Barbara Lee, and she was called a traitor. Otherwise, both Republicans and Democrats alike were behind the invasion. Just like me. Just like most everyone I knew way back in 2001.

But, and here’s the thing: I never imagined they would stay there for 20 years. I figured they would go in, find the 9/11 perps, detain them, and come home. Stupid me.

I will never again support one of these invasions. It didn’t work in Vietnam, which remains a functioning Communist country nearly 50 years after the war ended. And it didn’t work in Afghanistan.

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