The U.S. is not completely out of Afghanistan, of course. We are never completely out of anywhere. (Unless we count out of our minds.) But we have begun to exit Afghanistan in a somewhat serious fashion, and supposedly we are going to be gone by the end of August. (August 2021, or August 3021?) The link below is to an article by Kathy Gannon of the Associated Press, entitled “US troops exit quietly from Afghanistan base,” dated July 6, 2021.
I read the article a day later, although the version I saw did not contain everything available in the link. The article details how the U.S. troops slipped away in the night, and waited about two hours before they notified the new Afghan commander. Which led to the base being invaded by looters.
“Before the Afghan army could take control of the airfield about an hour’s drive from the Afghan capital Kabul, it was invaded by a small army of looters, who ransacked barrack after barrack and rummaged through giant storage tents before being evicted, according to Afghan military officials.”
Ms. Gannon later tells us,
“The big ticket items left behind include thousands of civilian vehicles and hundreds of armored vehicles.”
Believe it or not, I’m not here to bash the Biden administration for their judgment (or lack thereof) in the way they exited the base. The method of exit seems demented, but would a Trump administration have done any better? Who knows?
The thing is, Donald Trump had four years to get out of Afghanistan. He didn’t do it. That was #2,678 of the thirty trillion missed opportunities he had to do something which would begin to throw a spanner in the works of the Deep State.
The article by Ms. Gannon appeared over two weeks ago. I have kept a weather eye out to see if there were repudiations of the claim that we left the base in the manner Ms. Gannon describes. There doesn’t seem to be any push-back. I expect her report is pretty accurate.
And no one cares. I don’t think Americans care much about Afghanistan one way or the other. I care, because I think the method of leaving was wrongheaded, but I am a grumpy, judgmental old man, and the idea of leaving a military base to be invaded by looters is just exactly the kind of thing that I think is both silly and wicked. “Boomer,” I can hear people say, rolling their eyes. Exactly.
Part of what it means to be an American these days is that we can’t be bothered with trifles. A looted army base because we neglected to notify our allies in a timely manner? So what? It’s not worth even talking about.
What I mostly want to do here is recount some of the costs of the Afghanistan venture. These statistics are taken from an article by Isabel Debre, entitled “Counting the costs of America’s 20-year war in Afghanistan,” with a publishing date of May 1, 2021. For the sake of argument, let’s assume her statistics are in the ball park of being correct.
We lost about 2,400 U.S. troops killed, with another 20,600 wounded. Another 3,800 U.S. private security contractors lost their lives. Afghan civilian dead are over 47,100. Afghan troops (our allies) killed were about 66,000 or more.
I think our minds have a hard time processing big numbers. If we try to break down the numbers a bit, it might help us have a sense of the cost in lives.
Adding our dead troops and our dead contractors, that is 6,200 people. Let’s say you attend a church of 100 people. Picture the devastation if all 100 people lost their lives in your church. Now divide 6,200 by 100. That is 62 American churches of 100 people–all of them completely wiped out.
Do the math on 20,600 wounded, 100 at a time. That is 206 churches with 100 people, every person of which was wounded. Some of them very grievously wounded, no doubt.
This completely leaves aside the 113,000 Afghan dead, civilians and soldiers. They’re only foreigners; who gives a rat’s posterior? Certainly not Americans.
Now let’s consider the money spent. Ms. Debre posits a cost to the U.S. of $2.26 trillion. Or, written another way, $2,260,000,000,000.00.
Again, big numbers cause our eyes to glaze over. We can’t really picture the cost. Let’s break the numbers down a bit.
Most of us would consider $50,000.00 to be a decent year’s wages for one person. If you took the entire year’s wages of one person, $50,000.00, and applied it to the money we have spent in Afghanistan, how many people would have to give up their salary to pay for the war? Not, remember, pay their income tax on $50,000.00, but rather pay their entire salary toward the war effort. How many people would have to give up their entire salary to pay for the war? 8,000? 30,000?
Well, the number is a little higher than either figure. It would take 45,200,000 people paying their entire salary of $50,000.00 a year, to pay for the war. That is 45 million, 200 thousand people, paying their entire salary for one year. Even spread out over 20 years, that is a lot of people spending a lot of money–well over 2,000,000 people a year paying their entire salary for one year of $50,000.00. If my math is wrong, let me know and I will correct it. But I think it is correct.
Just think of how many transgender bathrooms we could have built with that much money!
The 6,200 dead U.S. citizens could have been living and working at jobs that provided something other people wanted. Instead, they are, well, dead.
The $2.26 trillion could have been spent on transgender bathrooms. Or, alternatively, left in the pockets of people who work for a living.
Now let’s ask ourselves if all this blood and treasure was worth the cost. What have we gained in Afghanistan? What good have we done the Afghan people? What good have we done ourselves? How long will we be gone before the Taliban takes over completely?
Even if we had succeeded completely in conquering Afghanistan, and had destroyed the Taliban and had forced them to leave or surrender, what would we have gained? Are we really that sure that “our democracy” is so wonderful that the Afghans should want to be exactly like us?
Actually, countless people really do seem to be sure that the Afghans should want to be like us. I confess I am not one of them. I think we should just leave the Afghans alone. To paraphrase William Faulkner’s Uncle Willy, the Afghans can go to hell and leave us to come on at our own gait.
Does that mean I support the Taliban and their Islamic morality? Of course not. The Afghans need Jesus Christ. Americans as churches and as individuals can be supporting people who are trying to take the gospel to Afghanistan. In short, rather than telling the Afghans to go to hell, we can be telling them about the way to heaven, and paying money voluntarily out of our pockets to get that message to them. To me that seems to be a lot better than pretending “our democracy” is something above reproach, and better than spending blood and treasure–ours and that of the Afghans–to force that fantasy on them.
We are–supposedly–leaving Afghanistan. Afghanistan is known as the graveyard of empires. The Soviet Union chewed Afghanistan and had to spit it out. Then a few years later the Soviet Union ceased to exist, in 1991. The U.S. chewed for 20 years and finally had to admit the gristle wouldn’t go down. If our defeat there is a large factor in the U.S. empire finally collapsing, then at least one good thing will have come of our defeat: the end of the hog on ice American empire.