AS nobody ever said, “when we win the war in Afghanistan…” Think about it. At no time in the last 20 years did any ‘leader’ of the defunct Coalition of the Willing – political, military or otherwise – ever speak of victory. Nor did they encourage their publics to believe victory was even desirable. It didn’t matter how many warriors were killed in action. Bushes, Blairs, Howards and Obamas didn’t envisage a grand march for the winners; they didn’t want one. When President Trump organised a long overdue Washington parade in 2019 to salute America’s long-battling heroes, DC politicians (all Democrats) were concerned the city’s asphalt would be traumatised. There is nothing shocking about the Afghanistan debacle but, rather, something tragically familiar. War without end serving crisis-addicted pretenders in government, media and corporations. The goal was never enlightened democracy – any more than the end game of the ‘pandemic’ is ‘freedom.’
For the post-Soviet superpowers (paying attention), impossibility in Afghanistan was already axiomatic in 2001. Rushing in anyway was ominous enough. But having done so, to then look upon triumph as undesirable, as something vulgar to be shunned? That was depraved. Depraved lassitude, in fact, is the leitmotif in harmonica of our time. It amplifies nihilism like Henry Fonda’s dying breaths in Once Upon a Time in the West.
In Australia, defeat might seem like the unfair result of unyielding loyalty to the United States and therefore be no great – or, at least, no particularised – disgrace. This seems to be the op-edocracy’s reading of the ‘withdrawal’ from Afghanistan – albeit that absurd versions of old doctrinal schools are now brawling for scraps about how an army should surrender and skedaddle in an elegant way. “Everyone wants to go to Baghdad,” announced moustachioed Teddy Roosevelt impersonator John Bolton in the priapic lead-up to the Iraq War, “but real men go to Iran.” It can only be a matter of time before the inverted hawks of the upside-down 20s insist that everyone abandoned Kabul but real men abandon Taipei… or Canberra.
No, Australia isn’t a hapless victim of its own dependable nature. The world isn’t a Paul Hogan skit and we’re not Strop. The Howard government committed soldiers to Afghanistan for a good cause but its successor governments kept them there for an age as a cut-price deposit for US backing in some future travail of our own. For that alone, as it happens, 43 of our finest young men died. The thinking behind the realpolitic was defensible but Australia’s unwillingness to mobilise for combat none but a small, constantly re-inserted vanguard of commandos was usurious. As for the down payment on alliance, how sure can we be that it will be honoured by a woke Pentagon in the service of a Pelosified Washington establishment?
There’s a good reason why Joe Biden hasn’t been mentioned till now: the Acting President is not to blame for the Afghanistan mess. He is responsible for the worst withdrawal and evacuation in US history. As an Endless War G.I. Joe, two-term Vice-President during the conflict and lifelong geo-strategic imbecile, Biden is by no means blameless. Those of us who remember the early years of the War on Terror also know that Afghanistan was very much the left’s Good War. The Democrats wanted George W. Bush to lose the Bad War – in Iraq – so they could regain the White House in a Nixonian fog of scandal and military humiliation. To Bush’s credit, he refused to go quietly. Note that a President in his 50s has a lot more vim for defiance than a 79 year-old whose idea of a surge is an extra scoop of choka choka chip.
Not only is there a lot of ruin in a civilisation but a lot of blame – and gradations of blame – for the ruin. When Australia formally called it a day in Afghanistan, commentators predictably opined on “our longest war.” Except it wasn’t ours – few citizens were called upon to assist in any sacrificial way – and therefore it wasn’t really a war at all. There were no petrol coupons or scrap metal drives in the suburbs. The notion that the West could fight a true war abroad while insulating for political reasons the vast majority of jaded voters was the foundational perversity of the enterprise. We lost in Afghanistan for three reasons: we didn’t want to win, we weren’t involved and – saddest of all – we’re not as morally superior to the Taliban as we used to be.
Finally, look not to Biden and the Democrats but to Scott Morrison and the Liberals for what may be the most shameful evidence of this same misanthropic pomposity: having rotated a small band of specialists into Afghanistan over and over – and over – again to kill the enemy, Liberals then facilitated an attempt to jail them for murder. The sainted Johns – Howard and Anderson – did the rotating but neither spoke up for their bloodied champions.
The SAS men will sue. But not for peace.