Civilians trying to get out of Afghanistan boarding a cargo plane in Kabul’s airport hours before the Taliban took control of the city. Photo by Taylor Crul, Department of Defense

Another Look at the Afghanistan Problem

Civilians trying to get out of Afghanistan boarding a cargo plane in Kabul’s airport hours before the Taliban took control of the city. Photo by Taylor Crul, Department of Defense

By Norman M. Lambert 

Since the beginning of the airlift of people out of Kabul, there has been a good deal of criticism of President Biden’s handling of the affair. What no one seems to be able to admit is what a dire lack of information regarding the Taliban and their ability to be able to conquer the capital of the nation in days was made available to the President.

As a country, we spend millions of dollars on 17 significant intelligence agencies including the CIA, NSA and Homeland Security at a cost of close to $70 billion annually. That money is spent to provide us with intelligence to avoid disasters such as the fall of Kabul.

Was this all President Biden’s fault? Why wasn’t the potential problem presented to him months ago?

To put this in perspective, the cost of the Afghan war as of 2019 was approximately $2.26 trillion, just for the war itself. Plus $88 billion to arm and supply the Afghan military, which in the end simply evaporated.

We must also remember that it was the United States that provided money, arms and training to the Taliban. Back in 1979, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor, was significantly responsible for ensuring that the United States would engage in a war in Afghanistan in order to give the Soviet Union its own Vietnam.

We funded, trained and armed the most fundamental of Afghan’s fundamentalists, including the Taliban and a young Saudi by the name of Osama bin Laden.

Brzezinski said in 1998, “What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the end of the Cold War?”

And as for those millions of Afghans who would end up dead, wounded or uprooted from their homes and lives as a result, well, really, who cares?

Unfortunately, the fall of Afghanistan is just the latest of our wars that the Pentagon (along with Democratic and Republican support) has involved the United States in. The Pentagon has not been able to win a single war (excluding Granada and the invasion of Panama; they hardly qualify as wars) since the end of World War II. Korea, a draw. Vietnam, total defeat. Iraq, hardly a win for the United States. Syria, Somalia and now Afghanistan finish off our dreary losing ways. And this is not the fault of troops on the ground. It is a total failure of leadership.

And now they’re starting to build up for a confrontation with China. Our military budget totals more than the next 10 first-world countries put together. For all of that, our Pentagon leaders still get us into wars that they are incapable of winning.

Due to 20 year of war, 5.9 million Afghans have been internally or externally displaced. We have turned cities into rubble in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, cities that most likely will never be rebuilt or repopulated.

Our heavy-handed drive to bring freedom and democracy to nations in the Middle East has only brought them civilian and army casualties, destruction of villages and cities, and despair for the countless thousands left homeless.

We need to be a little more thoughtful before we push our freedom and democracy onto another nation. These armed conflicts have nothing to do with the threat of terrorism, and all they do is make us more enemies and make new jihadists who will fight to the death for their country against the United States.

Is that what we really want?

*****

Norman Lambert has been a resident of Fresno since 1990. He has been retired for 15 years. He was raised in Visalia where he became an antiwar activist and supported the UFW and their boycotts. Contact him at barbaraandnorman@comcast.net

  • The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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