When the former Soviet Union’s mighty Red Army defeated Nazi forces in the pivotal WWII battle of Stalingrad, not only was Hitler’s mad dream of a Thousand Year Reich crushed, an accompanying assurance was achieved that the Stars and Stripes, not the Swastika, would be flying from our schoolyard flagpoles today.
Yes, the Normandy invasion and the great sacrifice of our own troops was important, but Stalingrad had already sealed Germany’s fate. Thank Russian soldiers for Americans not speaking German, and for U.S. death camps never having been built to “cleanse” our own country of Jews, our racial minorities, plus other “undesirables”.
But that same, seemingly invincible military that saved the whole world over seven decades ago would later be humiliatingly defeated in Afghanistan, repeating Britain’s tragic folly there much earlier.
Afghanistan is the historical death place of overreaching foreign ambition, a reality that stamps a figurative skull and crossbones squarely on whatever vaguely-defined, wishful hope President Trump’s Afghan policy possesses.
Put starkly, if we stay in Afghanistan, we, too, are going to catastrophically lose. Think Vietnam, but on an even more disastrous scale of debacle.
Afghanistan combines a just-right amalgam of geographic, religious, and patriotic factors—manifested in the Afghan people’s steely determination to resist conquest, in an ideal defensive setting—to make their land a veritable black hole of doom for foreigners having grand notions of imposing their outside will on a dusty, desolate, yet passionately loved homeland.
Add to that an Afghan continuity stretching back to the beginnings of human habitation on this planet, and it’s reasonable to expect that there will still be an essential Afghanistan long after the USA has morphed, or crumbled, into something pathetically different than its current incarnation.
In fact, attempting to futilely impose arrogant Yankee will on Afghanistan would prove to be a key facilitator of our descent into an American future absent the power and influence, whether real or already largely imagined, that we wield now.
But what about the Taliban? Are they not scourges that we’re obligated to battle to the bitter end?
Not if the way in which we fight—as alien aggressors in their native midst—provides them additional determination (i.e., a powerful sense of just cause), and our abiding foolishness gives them more recruits than we can ever hope to kill.
How blindly foolish we are in thinking that continued Predator attacks on innocent goat herders and wedding parties can bring us victory.
It’s the same illogic that produced the “it became necessary to destroy the village to save it” madness in Vietnam, and the depraved insanity of believing that constantly kicking down residential doors in Baghdad made us the “good guys” in Iraq.
We have to face facts, distressing though they assuredly are.
The world doesn’t want our religion, politics, economics, or cultural “values” forced upon it, anymore than we’d tolerate some surpassingly hubristic country from half a planet away trying to violently do the same to us.
The Twin Towers would still be proudly gleaming on the New York City skyline if we had established a prior record of being a true friend and benefactor to humankind, instead of a world-cop bully serving greedily rapacious corporate and financial interests that see Earth’s inhabitants as nothing more than something to be profitably used and abused, or “converted” to what our profoundly problem-ridden society gives us absolutely no valid reason to think anyone else would gladly embrace.
Furthermore, if we scratched just beneath the official story regarding supposedly gratuitous animosity directed against us by so many around the planet, we’d quickly discover that they’re not “enemies” in the diabolical abstract, but people with painful grievances against the U.S. who would have never become such . . . had we treated them right in the first place.
If we’d only stop getting up in other people’s faces, and quit trying to control their affairs, no one would then stab us in the back when we weren’t looking.
I suspect, however, that we’re too haughty and pious to ever appreciate that truth.
We’ll just self-destructively hurl a monkey wrench into the sputtering engine of our failing order, putting a complete halt to all possibilities for the USA to remain a major power and decisive player in global relations as the 21st Century wears on.
Dennis Rahkonen of Superior, Wisconsin, has been writing progressive commentary with a Heartland perspective for various outlets since the ’60s.