Recently The Onion ran a couple of short articles (link, link) lampooning President Trump’s so-called “strategy” in Afghanistan, which seems to amount to “we’ll be there forever.” The Onion’s response may be satirical, but not entirely off the mark. In the coming years, we will have soldiers and marines who have no actual memory of 9/11, which is supposedly the reason why they’re going to Afghanistan. Likewise, some young people are coming of age so that we could have a situation where a son more or less takes over his father’s duties in Afghanistan. Think about that for a second.
Imagine a war without end, where there are several generations of soldiers. Different groups of Afghan War vets have worn different uniforms and carried different weapons. Some of them were well-trained to deal with life in the country; the early birds were wholly unprepared. And while all this has been happening, for the vast majority of Americans Afghanistan might as well be Mars or some other dimension.
Worse still, there is no chance of victory. Nobody even knows what victory means. The leaders of the “free world” want Afghanistan to become a modern democratic country, but they have no idea how to build that. In their minds, this process happens when you have free trade and free markets, which then attract entrepreneurs who give everyone jobs until prosperity ensues. This is something that just isn’t going to happen in Afghanistan. The Taliban and anyone who seeks to ally with them only have to avoid losing. “You may have the watches,” they’ll say, “but we have the time.”
If you think that sounds bleak, it’s not that much different from the situation in the States these days. Our super-genius centrists have no vision of a better future to offer us. If Trump were removed from office tomorrow you can bet your bottom dollar the Democrats would be lining up to work with Mike Pence and the Republicans in Congress. They’d praise the return to “civility” and “dignity.” If you want to see the bizarre utopia centrists live in, here’s a perfect example:
Apart from the delusion that a Republican-dominated congress wouldn’t obstruct all of Clinton’s initiatives the same way they did with Obama, this is the best vision these people can give us of a better future, something better than Trump’s circus. In reality, of course, there’s only one way Clinton would get such a bill passed- she’d cave into every single Republican demand for tax cuts, deregulation, and giveaways to private corporations and then declare victory. This is the best they have to offer.
When you look at it that way, you can kind of understand the mindset of an Afghan villager, patiently listening to some interpreter explaining to him for the seventh time why it is important to support the Afghan central government in Kabul. You can understand why they might be reluctant to put their home and family at risk by collaborating with the authorities when they can just look the other way for the Taliban and sleep soundly at night. Or if that’s not the case, you can at least understand why our hypothetical Afghan villager simply doesn’t give a shit.
We seem to have reached a point in history which earlier revolutionaries such as Lenin predicted prematurely, i.e. the point where capitalism has nothing more to offer most people, in the same way the United States has nothing more to offer Afghanistan than endless war. Millions of people worldwide are already tacitly rejecting the existing order, but unfortunately they are not embracing positive alternatives. If there is any end to this, it won’t be a happy one.