Sunday, August 15, 2021

"THIS time it will be different!"

My tweet isn't precisely true, of course, but it feels truthy all the same. 
The War on Terror began in Afghanistan 20 years ago, and it was one that I always had thought was justified by the World Trade Centre attack and the Taliban harbouring of Osama Bin Laden. 
But Bush never made it clear exactly what NATO and the Americans intended to accomplish in Afghanistan -- a lot of talk about going on patrols and building schools and negotiating with war lords, but that all went on year after year after year and nothing ever changed. 
In retrospect, of course, they should have pushed the Taliban out of power, declared victory, and left in 2005. But Bush didn't have the stones to do that over Cheney and Rumsfeld's warmongering. 
Then Obama got out of Iraq but the growth of ISIS left him without the credibility for another battle with the military over Afghanistan. 
Trump vowed to get out but of course he never did it because he didn't know how --except for sending Pompeo to make things worse by releasing thousands of Taliban prisoners. 
And so, finally, in the end, it all came down to Biden - he is determined to get America disentangled from the first and last of its Middle Eastern wars and he does what he says he will do.
So it wasn't pretty, but finally, today, it is done.

What frustrated me about the coverage of the fall of Kabul and the end of the Afghanistan War was the media compulsion to try to make it echo the ignominious American exit from Saigon in 1975 -- they wanted another "helicopter on the roof" photo so badly they could taste it.
The best they could manage is the photo above, showing a helicopter flying somewhere over Kabul yesterday.  This photo was all over social media.  
What they really wanted was something like this:

The fall of Saigon was a nightmare for the American army, the Vietnamese army, and the Vietnamese civilians. We have yet to see whether the fall of Kabul will also be a nightmare -- the videos of people on the airport tarmac are showing a shit show, but apparently the US military is now in charge at the control tower, and I still have hope that the Taliban will just let the airport operate to get people out.
Apparently other countries have now offered asylum to refugees, too.
Maybe it really WILL be different this time.

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