Misconceived when it began 20 years ago, the American expedition to Afghanistan is being misunderstood as it comes to its predictable end in failure and the benighted country returns to the theocratic fascism of the Taliban. The transition will be horrible, and Americans should be outraged – first of all at themselves.
The expedition began as a search for Osama bin Laden, the terrorist mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. When bin Laden could not be found for years, the expedition became another one of nation building, like Vietnam. The new Afghan government nurtured by the U.S. has attempted democracy but has been hopelessly corrupt and its U.S.-trained military has not been eager to fight the Taliban by itself. So the Taliban gradually have regained control of most of the country.
Ten years after the expedition began, bin Laden was located in Pakistan and killed by U.S. special forces, but the exercise in nation building continued. Most Afghans have been indifferent to it – like most Americans. But for a few years young Afghan women have gotten a chance to see what liberation from theocratic fascism might be like – education, careers, equality with men, and escape from sexual slavery. Though many of these young women have been murdered by the Taliban in bombings and shootings at their schools or jobs, many have bravely persisted. Now their hopes are disintegrating. Soon many more will be dead or at least raped.
This outrageousness was well conveyed a month ago by the intrepid travel video producer Eva zu Beck, who posted at YouTube a few shows about her recent journey in Afghanistan. Zu Beck interviewed a young Afghan woman, Nazima Khairzad, who, with only primitive equipment and facilities, has become an excellent skier, won a medal at an international competition in Pakistan, and aspires to become an athlete and live a modern, independent life. (To Khairzad, even Pakistan seems advanced.)
But her achievements and aspirations have brought Khairzad mostly condemnation from her own community. Many called her a "bad girl" and some even threatened to kill her – this in an area not yet controlled by the Taliban.
As it withdraws its military from Afghanistan, the U.S. government is being urged to arrange the emigration of thousands of Afghans who supported the U.S. expedition. Humane as that sounds, it would be a mistake, as these Afghans did not help the United States as much as the United States, while mistaken, tried to help them achieve a civilized government. Rather than being removed from their country, these Afghans – especially the young women – should be encouraged to join the national army in support of the democratic government, and should be equipped by the United States if they can show themselves effective fighters against the Taliban.
For it's their country, not ours. If they will not be as fanatic about democracy as the Taliban are about theocratic fascism, they will deserve theocratic fascism.
Sardonically summarizing U.S. foreign policy a few decades ago, the late, great conservative writer William F. Buckley Jr. said, "Lose a country, gain a restaurant." But amid the damage done to the hospitality industry by the virus epidemic, the United States won't be needing another restaurant for a long time.
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A CHEAP POSE: American education is increasingly political indoctrination, especially at the higher levels, where the professoriat is crazy left. But the state Senate's Republicans were just striking a cheap pose this week as they forced the Senate to vote on an amendment prohibiting Connecticut schools from teaching "divisive concepts," such as that the country is "fundamentally racist" and that people bear racial guilt for the sins of their ancestors.
The amendment was defeated as all Democratic senators opposed it, most of them playing along with the recent race mongering in their party.
While much racial nonsense is coming up in schools around the country, there has been no formal inquiry into it in Connecticut's schools and the legislature hasn't undertaken one. Such an inquiry would be worthwhile, but it can wait a bit, since however much students are being propagandized and misled, test scores suggest that most aren't learning much of anything.
Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.