Who Made the Afghanistan Mess?

For the U.S. government and America, Afghanistan is a hideous blunder that was created by America’s leaders in September of 2001. The objectives have not been achieved and there is no prospect that they will be achieved. At the time, the attack on Afghanistan garnered a 90% approval rating from Americans, which is all the more reason to keep investigating this war from all possible angles to shed light on a dark and dreadful, not to mention totally wrong, decision, a decision that Trump continues to implement.

For whom has this war been a disaster? Losers include 31,000 documented civilian deaths. The estimated Afghan civilians, soldiers and militants killed number 111,000. An additional 360,000 lives have been lost indirectly due to the war. Those dead in Pakistan are excluded. 29,000 civilians have been wounded. U.S. military fatalities in Afghanistan number at least 2,297. As of October 2015, the coalition forces that entered the war suffered 1,137 deaths.

These estimates exclude those American and coalition forces who have been injured, often severely. It’s an utter disgrace that our government does not provide clear tallies. In 2012, it was reported that the American wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan together exceeded 50,000.

The money cost of the resources America has devoted to pursuing the Afghanistan war is near $1 trillion. It is estimated to be $2 trillion if all costs past, present and future are included.

This war is a long-running disaster, still occurring, that was made solely by Bush and his war cabinet. Who were the people responsible for the decision to invade Afghanistan and topple its government in what was a clear act of aggression, illegal and immoral by all standards?

“To plan the administration’s response to the terrorist attacks, President Bush assembled his ‘War Cabinet,’ which included Cheney, Rice, Powell, Rumsfeld, Card, and Director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet.” (Pfiffner, 2003). The people who created the war were headed by President George W. Bush. Richard Bruce Cheney was the Vice-President. Condoleezza Rice was the assistant to the president for national security affairs. Colin Powell was Secretary of State. Andrew Card was White House chief of staff. George Tenet was Director of Central Intelligence. Donald Rumsfeld was Secretary of Defense.

According to Pfiffner, “The president decided that it was important to have U.S. soldiers committed to battle in order to demonstrate U.S. resolve and commitment.” Also “During October President Bush was impatient to get U.S. troops into Afghanistan.” Bush is responsible primarily for this war, and he is the man who conceived of and promoted the fundamental idea of turning action against terrorism into warfare.

The U.S. is an empire that has incredible commitments to all sorts of allies across the world. Its power and dominance among its allies depend upon the validity of these commitments. The U.S. has constantly to be showing that the commitments are binding and that it will uphold them. Otherwise, cracks in the power structure and dominance of the U.S. open up if allies begin to doubt the word of the U.S. These commitments are at once a source of strength for the empire and a potential source of weakness. They tie the U.S. down and force the empire to maintain bases and roving armed forces worldwide. Any president who is committed to the U.S. as an empire is hooked, trapped or captured by this chain of commitments. He or she is practically forced by those who are behind the empire and benefit from it to reinforce the image of America as a staunch upholder of its interests, commitments, treaties, and allies. They do not want to go down in history as the person who oversaw the shrinkage and death of the U.S. empire. This helps explain why Bush wanted “to demonstrate U.S. resolve and commitment”.

But as much as this analysis may help comprehend why a president makes irrational decisions in an effort to hold the empire together, there is more to it. Each person in that room bears some responsibility for the decision to attack Afghanistan with American ground troops and topple the Taliban. Each had reasons, and each was wrong. The room was filled with the crème de la crème of the American political system, and they still went wrong. They failed to grasp the countervailing forces that would render this American show of resolve not only meaningless but a show of weakness. They failed to understand the situation. They failed to understand Afghanistan, its people, its nature, its government and the role of corruption. They failed to understand the role of Pakistan. They failed to understand the weaknesses on the American side. They failed to understand the resolve of their opponents.

We cannot trust the political crème de la crème. We cannot trust instantaneous public opinion, which was also wildly wrong. At this moment in time, we cannot trust Trump and his crew, not because of his personality or his unorthodox style, but because he is just as prone to be captured by the idea of empire as any past president. At best, Trump made some anti-empire noises; but his actions speak louder than his words and his words are more and more bellicose. His anti-empire words, really mere suspicions and uncoordinated verbal sallies against empire, were enough to rouse the proponents of empire into a coalition against him. The crème de la crème are blind partisans of the system that has made them the political crème de la crème, but equally partisan in favor of empire are all sorts of other American forces.


3:35 pm on January 17, 2018