We were promised that the US and coalition efforts in Afghanistan would bring peace to a land of war and democracy to a land of terrorists, theocrats, and warlords.
And now, after 2,448 American service member deaths and spending over $2 trillion, the Taliban controls Afghanistan and the Acting US Ambassador has fled the $770 million embassy in Kabul (which the Taliban now owns). The Afghan presidential palace is theirs.
We were promised by George W. Bush and his administration that the promotion of democracy – even through military force – would “be a watershed event in the global democratic revolution.” That the United States, through supporting the “growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture,” could end “tyranny in our world.” He said that “the advance of freedom will lead to peace,” that the multi-generational project in Afghanistan was essential “for the sake of our own security.”
We were promised by neo-conservatives that democracy throughout the world would be the pinnacle of man’s social evolution and that this process could be sped-up “with the right application of power and will.”
We were promised by the generals and the national security bureaucracy that progress was being made in Afghanistan. That the Afghan government was a stable and courageous partner.
They all lied.
In reality, the neoconservatives were operating under the foolish assumption that exporting democracy will make a bad world good. (Only God can do that.) The Afghan government was ripping us off. The politicians deceived us about what American sons and daughters were dying for.
And our generals were making knowingly false statements about the status of the war in Afghanistan, a revelation to the public after stellar reporting on The Afghanistan Papers by the Washington Post.
While US Generals said they were making steady progress with training the Afghan army and national police force, “US military trainers described the Afghan security forces as incompetent, unmotivated and rife with deserters.”
“Every data point was altered to present the best picture possible.”
Concerns about the corruption of the Afhgan government were unwelcome. “There were a number of faulty assumptions in the strategy: Afghanistan is ready for democracy overnight, the population will support the government in a short time frame, more of everything is better.”
“In Afghanistan our policy was to create a strong central government which was idiotic because Afghanistan does not have a history of a strong central government. . . The timeframe for creating a strong central government is 100 years, which we didn’t have.”
The single biggest project of the US in Afghanistan “may have been the development of mass corruption.”
Per leaked documents, the petty corruption of the Afghan government was “wired up to the top.” As one former government official put it, the Afghan “police and soldiers did not want to put their lives on the line for a government that was corrupt and prone to neglect them.”
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair General Mark Milley shrugged all this off.
For context, this is the same general who promised on July 21, 2021 that “the Afghan Security Forces have the capacity to sufficiently fight and defend their country.”
The Purpose of their Lies.
There’s no mistake these lies were political. But the intent was also self-preservation, bubbling up from the need to hide their own failures so they could escape accountability. They knew that the truth about the corruption and lack of progress would cause public outrage and lead to demands of withdrawal. By the deception they denied the American people, through (or from) their elected representatives, their political right to make an informed decision on whether to continue the war in Afghanistan.
With that being said, how are they not complicit in the deaths of American troops?
And while there may be no legal remedies for such deceit and its consequences (how convenient for the elected and the appointed), ask yourself: what is the righteous and deserved punishment for this sin?
As to the neoconservatives and their circles, one would think that the failure of Afghanistan would cause them to reconsider their promotion of nation-building projects to remake the world in the image of the United States. That they would pause, if even briefly, to think of whether they were wrong about everything.
If only that were the case. Bill Kristol demands more sacrifices and clings to the hope that we can deploy forces to Afghanistan “and ultimately turn it around.”
Meanwhile, David French is pleading that that the United States has a moral and biblical obligation to protect the Afghan people from the Taliban.
In doing so, he appeals to the Christian Just War Doctrine. The audacity and utter cynicism of David French to appeal to concepts of Just War after his support of wars of preemption and his defense of the targeted mass incineration of innocent non-combatants.
Of course, French and Kristol and the rest of the neoconservative pundits won’t suffer the costs of these proposals. They’ll just make a good living talking about it.