Twenty years in Afghanistan: Too much damage from ‘little revenge’

Opinion – Bruce Springsteen was released in the early days of the Afghanistan War and after the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington DC. Growing up, A Grammy-winning album about his history, grief, fear, anger and sense of loss that was changing America at the time.

He tried to capture the pain and hope of a severe national moment, when America’s sense of self was lost.

As I write this almost 20 years later, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the United States is still struggling to find itself.

Soldiers from the US Army HHB 3-7 Field Artillery Regiment during a mission in Afghanistan near the Pakistan border in 2011.

Soldiers from the US Army HHB 3-7 Field Artillery Regiment spent thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars in a decade-long war in 2011 during a mission in Afghanistan, near the border with Pakistan, leaving Afghanistan with a corrupt government. Given And only dim prospects for peace.
Image: AFP / Tawseef Mustafa

Today, the war that George W. Bush started in response to 9/11 is finally over. Or, rather, it is about to end.. Kind of

New York Times Is moving forward with the headline ‘In Afghanistan, the frivolous end of America’s longest war’. The Washington Post. The United States withdrew from Afghanistan, ending its longest war.

But in many ways, this war is not over.

This is the opening track of Springsteen’s 2002 album. Lonely dayA It speaks of resilience, but it also reflects the deep emotions that are currently sweeping America. Unforgivable emotions that have left such a terrible legacy on the world after 20 years.

Hell is becoming, the black sun is rising.

This storm will continue.

There is a fire in the house, a wiper in the grass.

A little revenge and it will pass.

These too will pass

The use of Springsteen’s modifier – “small” – is an attempt to completely quell the growing patriotic rage surrounding it. But it was a futile hope. There was nothing less about America’s anger and Bush’s reaction to the loss of 2996 lives. Osama bin Laden managed to provoke the United States into a self-destructive rage. Hell was really cooking.

Bush Jr. invaded Afghanistan. Approximately 90% approval rating And Iraq, in 2003, with a rating that went above 70%. In the 2002 midterm elections, he won both the House and the Senate with the highest approval of any president since Dwight Eisenhower.

In Afghanistan, Bush launched America’s longest war – the one we see ending in defeat – and the vague, irrational, and clearly unforgivable “war on terror.” Estimates for Afghanistan only. More than 170,000 people lost their lives, including 47,000 Afghans. It is valued at 2. 2.3 trillion.

Yet in the midst of the national anguish of President Joe Biden’s withdrawal from the chaos, Springsteen’s prediction seems to have come true. The United States wants to move forward.

US President Joe Biden talks about the situation in Kabul, Afghanistan, from the east room of the White House.

US President Joe Biden
Image: 2021 Getty Images

The Post reported last week: “Despite wall-to-wall news coverage, many Americans see little reason to pay much attention. They concluded long ago that Afghanistan was theirs or their country’s. Is not a business. “

The Post quoted Anthony Quinn, 67, of San Francisco, as saying, “It’s hard for me to be emotionally attached; it’s really halfway to my world. It doesn’t weigh on me.” “We should never have gone there; it’s like Vietnam, it’s not our war,” said Gil Santiago, 21, of Michigan.

This is a huge change from the overwhelming support of the war 20 years ago.

However, Afghans do not enjoy watching the storm. These were the Taliban who were protecting al-Qaeda in 2001, the Taliban that the United States said needed to be removed for the sake of the Afghan people. So far, it is the Afghan people who have paid the heaviest price and the Taliban who are now back in power. The country will live with the legacy of this war for many years to come.

In fairness, this is not a bad thing at all. It is reasonable to point this out. The infant mortality rate has halved. Allegedly millions of girls Studied (Although percentages have been declining since 2011), and – a key US target – terrorist attacks from this part of the world have dried up.

Bush himself expressed this view. Painful statement Expressing sympathy for the Afghan people, but it is far from a ‘nation building’ plan that Bush started almost two decades ago.

This U.S. Marine photo released on August 29, 2021, shows a U.S. Marine carrying a baby with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) as the family arrives at the Hamid Khan Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan. Proceeding with the family through the Evacuation Control Center (ECC) during the evacuation.  On August 28, 2021.

A U.S. Marine with his child is evacuating with his family at Hamid Karzai International Airport August 28.
Image: AFP

For all the billions spent on economic development – including the wells dug by New Zealand troops in Bamiyan – Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world, one of the most corrupt.

The Taliban’s control of the country could once again see a decline in opium production, and its brutal and undemocratic rule is hardly better for Afghanistan as long as it remains in power. Who knows how long this will last and how its traditional opponents will react? Instability, oppression and violence are likely to continue for decades to come.

What may be less clear, especially for those Americans who are eager to ‘move forward’, is what this war has brought back to the world and to the United States.

Consider the price New Zealand has paid for the “little revenge” of the United States. This is hardly a complete list, but New Zealand lost 10 troops and spent 300 300 million on the war in Afghanistan.

We handed over dozens of Afghans to be detained and handed over to the Americans, contrary to the Geneva Conventions. The late David Bateson broke up. Lots of stories On this issue Pandit., As he struggled to obtain information from those in charge of the New Zealand Defense Force at the time, particularly (now Sir) Jerry MetPare and (now Mayor) Phil Goff. Both have done well since then, but their reputation is also tarnished.

It is interesting to note that at the time, Goff defended New Zealand’s military involvement as a way to push back the Taliban for the sake of Afghanistan’s security, and “I changed. These goals don’t seem to matter.

We now have a notorious raid that is considered ‘legitimate’, probably left. An eight year old girl (And at least seven others who may or may not be rebels) have died and seen NZDF leaders mislead “ministers and the people.” We left behind the unbroken ordinance. Another 17 civilians were killed or injured.. And now, in one last embarrassing turn, we Forsaken the people for whom we are holy.. The list goes on. And it continues around the world.

“Forever wars” spread like grapes to Yemen, Syria and beyond, causing more death and destruction.

Taliban forces (similar to the ones shown in Kabul on August 16) quickly entered Kabul through rural and northern Afghanistan, which they quickly captured on August 15.

Like these fighters shown in Kabul on August 16, Taliban forces quickly entered Kabul from rural and northern Afghanistan, which they quickly captured on August 15.
Image: AFP

But what many Americans fail to appreciate is the damage they have done to their quest for revenge. Damage to their own democracy, international reputation and way of life. Remember that these wars led to Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, drone strikes, large-scale surveillance, more prejudice against Muslims and much more.

There were many parents in the Trump era, but this war should be seen as one of them. Part of his compelling argument as to why the United States needed to be great again was based on America’s failures and the growing sense of purpose in this impartial “war on terror.” And since the United States made such a fuss, other countries followed suit.

The rise of dictatorial leaders in so many countries is also in this wrong adventure.

And while it is clearly not over for Afghanistan, nor is it over for the United States. At least financially. You can think of the opportunity that the United States has spent افغانستان 2.3tn in Afghanistan – roads and bridges have not been repaired and built, renewable energy plants, schools, hospitals, diplomatic efforts – all invested in these things. Not done. Because of this war, but this is only the beginning.

Truman and Johnson raised taxes to pay for their wars. Bush cut taxes and borrowed money, passing the bill on to future generations. Estimated. The United States will pay another ٹ 6 trillion or more on its war debt by 2050. Raise another سے 1 trillion to care for the families of your wounded and dead.

I touched on some of these costs when I wrote in 2011 about the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The Taliban waited patiently, made many promises and now regained power, as they always said they would inevitably do. It is now up to them to decide whether they will take “a little revenge”.

As much as President Biden and many Americans may wish, the war in Afghanistan is not over. Even after 20 years, the storm did not come. The wiper remains and it has not passed.

Even when it all started, Springsteen knew we would arrive that day. His poetry of the moment captures the fact that there is probably no such thing as “a little revenge”. This retaliatory sin can be much larger and more vague than the original sin. And we all pay the price for fear and anger. The boss is gone. Lonely day With this verse:

It’s best to ask questions before you shoot.

The bitter fruit of deception and deception.

It’s hard to swallow, it’s time to pay.

This taste does not slip easily on your tongue.

Sadly, the right questions were never asked. The bitter fruit is swallowing up the world and we keep paying. The taste will not go away for a while.

* Tim Watkin. He is the founder of the political news website Pandit, has a long career in journalism and broadcasting, and now runs a podcast team at RNZ.

This article was originally published in Pandit.


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