Wow. This weekend was…. wow. History in the making.
I missed much of it. Something about chasing a toddler around made watching the news…. impossible.
So I looked at my news on Monday morning and I was floored. Flabbergasted. Appalled. Grieved. Maybe a little afraid? But not a direct fear per say. In other words, confused.
I am old enough to remember 9/11. I was in high school. I am young enough to say I don’t know exactly how we got there. I was only in high school. I do remember several of my classmates talking about “joining up.” Even after the first rush of patriotism, several wanted to serve their country and defeat the “enemy.” Afghanistan was too quickly sidelined by Iraq and Iran issues (and fighting and sanctions and blah blah blah).
I would say America really struggles with nation building. We don’t have a great record of it. I actually include our own in this in some ways. When you look at post-civil war politics…. the northern politicians wanted to punish the southerners. There remained a sense of divide. For decades. In some ways there is still a sense that “the South” is a different country – Other.
So we spent 20 years propping up a government that fell in…. a weekend? I mean they barely had Kabul and that was only because of American presence. The Afghan military and government collapsed as we withdrew – that isn’t a good sign. It really doesn’t bode well that they were not a puppet government.
It also begs the question “What the hell was the last 20 years?“
This is where I worry about what we were trying to accomplish. Were we providing a government “of the people and for the people” (of Afghanistan) or were we trying to impose our own power on another country? How quickly the government fell really doesn’t speak to a sense of Afghanistan pride in that government. There was apparently rampant corruption, which empowered the rise of the Taliban (again) apparently.
Did we do the right thing leaving? I don’t know. Would staying longer have helped improve the government we implemented there? I don’t know. Should we have left years ago? I don’t know.
I do know this weekend was history. Whether it is history we learn from is yet to be seen. I hope to see some staunch reflection from intellectuals on the successes and failures of our “endless war.”
Biden spoke on Monday afternoon and I listened to some of it. He made a point about fighting for a government they weren’t willing to fight for themselves – and you know, I have no idea if this will be seen as a good or bad decision in 20 years – but I understand it.