I’m not a foreign policy expert. (Is anyone a foreign policy expert?) so Ethics Alarms will go light on what “should” have been done by the U.S. in Afghanistan. The one thing I am unalterably convinced of now, as I was in 2001, is that the U.S. had to take strong military action against the Taliban after it aided and abetted Osama bin Laden. No nation can just shrug off a fatal, ambush attack on its citizens with a finger wag and a stern, “Now don’t do that again, or you’ll be sorry!”
Obviously staying twenty years in the pseudo-nation was way, way too long, expensive and costly in American lives, but dreaded mission creep set in. My approach after 9/11—and I think that of several past Presidents, including Eisenhower and Truman—would have been to strike hard, make sure as many military and government officials as possible were among the dead, accept the civilian casualties as unavoidable, and make sure that a properly frightening death toll—ten times what we lost on 9/11, perhaps, 30,000?—made the necessary point: “Don’t mess with the United States of America.” Once that message was delivered, get out. Colin Powell’s too often quoted nostrum that if you broke a country you were obligated to fix it should not have applied. Afghanistan was already broken; it was and remains a chaotic mess of warlords and medieval thinking supported by the heroin trade. Nobody can “fix” it. However, the Taliban was bad, and worst of all it oppressed women, so all of a sudden our objective became an ethical one, not retaliation but reform.
In 2010, Barack Obama’s administration was engaged in allowing Iraq to go to rack and ruin, though we had actually begun the process of “fixing” that country, which is to Afghanistan what New York City is to Skull Island. The Obama strategy ended up giving Iraq over to the Iranians and ISIS while all the resources were to go to the fight in Afghanistan, the Good War. You know: we were fighting for feminism, the defeat of intersectionality and “Think of the Children!” In the process, we were encouraging desperate Afghans to trust us and put their lives and hopes in our hands. We were also putting American power and credibility on the line.
The debacle we can see on television unfolding now, even with all of the accumulated mistakes over two decades, was still avoidable by simple care and competence. Ian Miles Chong’s tweet is not unfair…
Astoundingly, the facts are so damning, and the statements from Democrats so cringingly dishonest and insulting…
…that even the supine mainstream media isn’t doing its usual pro-Biden propaganda. There was literally no excuse for what has happened.
The disaster’s first and primary ethics failure was management and leadership incompetence, mixed into a toxic soup, as they often are, with arrogance and bias.
I’ll examine the other ethics and leadership failures in Part 2.