It certainly seems we are doomed by an ignorance of the obvious. As the Scanlon’s posit, Afghanistan is a special case of foolishness. What is most ironic is this has been the case for most of recorded history. The region is especially fractious due to tribalism and religious belief. In some ways, not entirely unlike the Native American tribal situation in the U.S. prior to the European invasion.
Having spent some time in Afghanistan, both in country and through our locations there vicariously, my experience was mostly positive and affirming. We got to know one of their ambassadors in D.C. who is absolutely delightful. He married an American NGO worker, has several lovely children, and is a model or self reliance and fortitude. Both the ambassador and his family are still in country and we worry for them a lot. The good news is the ambassador may well be one of the individuals the Taliban will realize they need to just run the place, but I am not holding my breath and just hope they get out.
What we seem to casually overlook, time and time again, is the obvious reality that most of the world does not share our history of democratic institutions, the rule of law or a coherent belief in an actual state. This was certainly clear in Vietnam, Iraq and now Afghanistan. Our notion of a country is very different than theirs and the allegiance to such a concept is very casual. Also, there are no institutions supporting public policy like we have in the U.S. where political leaders can train and develop policies. There are no Brookings Institutes, or Hudson Institute, or Wilson Center, etc. Policy think tanks are Mosques run by religious zealots (by the way, funding extensively by Saudis).
What is happening today is awful, no doubt about it, but remember, this was all set in motion when Trump and Pompeo recognized the Taliban, released their leadership from jail and then signed an agreement to depart May 1, 2021. Biden had little alternative other than to leave. Now, did they underestimate the speed of the take over? Clearly. Did they anticipate the flight of government leadership? My guess is not. It is all so very sad and the only hope is the Taliban has come to realize they must moderate somewhat to have a functioning government themselves. And perhaps pigs will learn to fly. We’ll see.
Edward A. Powell