Neoliberalism Bites The Dust in Afghanistan
The Myth of Joe Biden's Competence Just Got Taken Hostage
Every morning, it seems that we learn about another fresh defeat in Afghanistan. The most infamous unplanned withdrawal from a country successfully conquered by the United States in the War on Terror — and then returned to the terrorists! — was going so badly that it seemed more like a comedy skit wrapped in a nightmare. Each day, the Biden Administration seemed to ask itself: what’s the dumbest thing we can possibly do over there? And then they did it. We abandoned the airport first, and then called an evacuation! We left behind $84 billion worth of military-grade weapons for the Taliban! We flew home 100,000 bacha bazi enthusiasts but abandoned our own citizens there! This week’s debacle was so absurd that it was almost diabolical: our very own State Department was busy blocking Americans from evacuating that hell-hole on private flights they had chartered themselves.
How could anyone keep up with all the defeats and debacles and dark jokes that were on us? It was only last week that we discovered that half the population of Afghanistan was pretending to be enlisted in the Afghan Army to be on the CIA payroll. (That particular joke lasted twenty years.) Our military leaders had been reassuring the Biden Administration that Afghanistan’s security forces would hold off the Taliban for awhile if we finally left the country and then —poof! — they all quit over the weekend once the Taliban called. A day or two later, they all showed up together at the Kabul airport pretending to be interpreters in order to get airlifted to America.
If this account of the war seems too glib, you will have to forgive me. I’m not a military strategist or ex-veteran so I have no particular insight into the fall of Afghanistan. But then neither does the Pentagon apparently. My thoughts on the subject are not particularly better than the Joint Chiefs of Staff but neither are they necessarily worse. I’m just an amateur — but these days aren’t we all?
I wasn’t really for, or against, us staying in Afghanistan. My point of view was more basic: we still had troops in Afghanistan and we hadn’t even pacified Chicago. What did we have to show for our $2 trillion of treasure spent in The Graveyard of Empires? You expect results when our Military Industrial Complex is billing $300 million per day over twenty years. We even deployed a Norwegian-speaking concert piano player named Pete Buttigieg as some sort of combat accountant over there for six months. If our DCO (direct commissioned officer) boys from McKinsey Consulting couldn’t figure it out, who could?
My first question about this long war was simple: what exactly were we still doing over there? Were we still, you know, fighting the Taliban? Or just paying them off? Did we have any strategic objectives? Was the mission to occupy the country because of its poppy fields? Or its lithium deposits? Or to teach gender studies to the bloodthirsty natives? (In June, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul celebrated flying the LBGTQ+ flag for Pride Month so you know the rainbow jihadists were beating the actual jihadists on social media at least.) Nobody seemed to have a satisfying answer.
It took about five minutes on the internet to figure out that the Afghan Security Forces were a complete fiction written for an audience of Americans. We were the ones paying for these degenerates to protect themselves. We stroked the checks and they half-pretended to be soldiers. It was not a convincing lie. Our military trainers sent videos back home showing the hashish-addicted Afghans unable to do jumping jacks or wake up on time in the morning. Clearly these goat-herders were not really worried about being ruled by the Taliban.
It turns out there was never an Afghanistan Army because there was never an Afghanistan civil government — which became obvious when our CIA-handpicked President of Afghanistan fled his country with $169 million dollars while his brother suddenly professed his allegiance to the Taliban without anyone so much as firing a shot. Guess what: there's no Afghanistan civil government because there's no civility over there. In fact, they're all Muslims and they want Sharia for themselves. And for you too.
This news did not crush me because I had never invested a lot of faith in transforming the illiterate Muslim tribesmen of the Pashtun into globalists by occupying their land. I know: call me cynical. This crazy “Mission: Civilize Them!” thing did seem to be the unofficial goal of the American military though. (We had the diversity classes at Kabul University to prove it too.) Had anyone over at the Pentagon cracked open a history book before trying this out? Which Rand Corporation genius had sold this idiotic plan to the Pentagon brass with a Powerpoint presentation?
What I wanted to know was: how did the war really go in terms of the fighting? (I’m sorry to use such barbaric terms. Call me old-fashioned.) As the journalist Lee Smith explained: "The reality is that America lost its war in Afghanistan more than a decade ago, roughly around the time when CIA officers began bribing aging warlords with Viagra." Why were we bribing these people with Viagra, you ask?
The Americans knew all about the young boys the tribal leaders kept in their camps; because the sex drug helped Afghan elders rape more boys more often, they were beholden to America’s clandestine service. Losing Afghanistan then is the least of it.
When you choose to adopt a foreign cohort’s cultural habits, customs for which the elders of your own tribe would ostracize and perhaps kill you, you have lost your civilization.
And because both sides of the political divide should be held accountable, military as well as civilian officials, too, it is unlikely that anyone ever will be. Since everyone is to blame, holding anyone accountable implicates everyone.
So there you have it: our allies were the pedophiles. This led to another obvious insight. Our leaders don't understand Afghanistan because they don't understand religion. They don't respect religion as the animating force of history. They believed in the existence of "moderate" Muslims willing to fight other Muslims to make Afghanistan into a modern nation state. That was ahistorical and absurd. The only thing that our Afghan allies and the Biden Administration were really in agreement about was Viagra.
All of this was before the Biden Administration conducted the most disastrous evacuation in American history. Now we have hundreds of Americans and allies stranded over there while our military stays busy flying the Taliban home to us. How did 100,000 unvetted refugees get priority treatment over our own people? Does the Biden Administration want to leave hostages for the locals? It looks that way. They’ve got more important priorities anyway, like complaining that the Taliban’s new government doesn’t care about “equity” and doesn’t include enough women to please “the international community.” (They have less to say about the new Interior Minister being on the FBI’s Most Wanted List with a $10 million bounty on his head.) The best chance for our people still trapped in Kabul to get home now is to dress up as Pashtun mujahideen with child brides who want to relocate to Wisconsin to vote blue and then they might get airlifted out.
Meanwhile, the Democrats are weeping all over Washington. The fall of Kabul has hit our neoliberal elites very hard because it's a disaster for their entire worldview. It's not that they care about Afghanistan of course. They care that neoliberalism is failing. (When NBC’s Andrea Mitchell shows up at State Department press briefings to scold Secretary Blinken is when you know there’s trouble.) They are self-aware enough to know that if they failed to plan a basic evacuation from a third world country then nobody really believes that they’re competent leaders of the free world. They didn’t just leave CIA contractors behind either. They abandoned the Afghanistan bureau of the New York Times. (They got out thanks to a private extraction team.) It’s not hard to guess which group is more dangerous to Biden’s poll numbers in 2024 either.
The fall of Afghanistan was so terrible for the credibility of the corporate media that CNN anchor Jake Tapper started quoting the Bible frequently on Twitter for no particular reason. (When atheists married to Planned Parenthood officials start quoting Scripture to convince you to fly half of Kandahar to Fort McCoy, trust me: it's time to hide your wallet.) All the same people who told you for twenty years that America “had to fight the terrorists over there so that we don't have to fight them over here" were now telling you that it was our moral obligation to bring "them" home. Fox anchor Bret Baier was concerned enough to invite almost every living neo-con onto his show to get us back into Afghanistan. Never Trumpers like Sandra Smith and Martha McCallum seemed queasy too. You could feel their agitation, and you knew why: Fox News had called Arizona early for this? They bet on Biden and got burned.
All of these elites had assured the American people that the Biden Administration would prevent exactly the kind of foreign policy disaster that the Biden Administration was now presiding over. That’s why it’s so quiet in Washington right now. The deafening silence you hear is our corrupt political class hiding from the consequences of supporting Old Joe. It’s not just Democrats either. Mitch McConnell and most of the GOP establishment have suddenly lost the power of speech on matters they once opined on semi-annually like impeachment. All the former national security officials, retired diplomats, and disgraced spies who wrote “open letters” to warn us about the Trump Administration have misplaced their pens too. They were all in this thing together.
So Afghanistan's fall is not just a crisis for Biden but for Brookings, for the Council of Foreign Relations, for the entire foreign policy establishment. It’s a catastrophe for the Democrats and the corporate media and the woke military and the intelligence agencies and Silicon Valley and Hollywood and everyone else who helped Biden get elected. They told us all for five years that President Trump was a dangerous idiot and it turned out that Biden was the dangerous idiot. Their veil of competence has been lifted. The neoliberals have nowhere to hide because they’re hiding from themselves. Their credibility just disappeared in the dust of Kabul.