Friday August 20, 2021
After the Taliban captured Kabul far faster than anyone in Washington forecast, secretary of state Tony Blinken went on Sunday morning talk shows and announced that the US mission in Afghanistan had been “successful.” Unfortunately, there will be plenty of robotic civil servants and political appointees who recite that deranged verdict in the coming years.
There is no reason to expect the twenty-year US debacle in Afghanistan to humble Washington policymakers. Korean War fiascos were swept under the rug, paving the way for fresh delusions that led to the Vietnam War. The debacles of the Vietnam War were buried long ago, spurring similar follies in the Afghan and Iraq wars in this century. John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction (SIGAR), reported finding “a USAID lessons-learned report from 1980s on Afghan reconstruction but nobody at AID had read it!” Foreign policy makers will likely remain arrogant and myopic regardless of how many more nations they despoil.
On a winter hike almost a decade ago, I witnessed firsthand both the haughtiness of officialdom and its human cost. I arrived at Great Falls National Park in Maryland early for that Sunday morning jaunt and found a wooden rail fence to lean against as I awaited the arrival of other hikers.