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Bring Our People Home

Dear readers,

I never thought I’d say this, but today I am almost ashamed to be an American. Our twenty-year involvement in Afghanistan has ended, and while I have mixed feelings about the effort, my feelings on the final act are as clear as can be. This was an utter and unforgivable humiliation.

Didn't I warn you not to drag me down here again?

The thought of the United States Gov’t knowingly abandoning Americans in a war-torn hell-hole under the control of a criminal band of ruthless Muslim fanatics (pledged to our eventual destruction) is sickening beyond comprehension. The shattered trust of those Afghans who (quite foolishly) put their faith in us is no less stomach-turning. Our National Honor (whatever’s left of it) has been cast down from its pedestal and rolled through the mud by beastly swine.

If there were any justice in this world, Joe Biden and anyone else involved with this series of colossally stupid decisions would be brought up on charges of criminal negligence. In this instance, I wish we could borrow from Ancient Athens and vote to banish the man from the country forever. The gross incompetence on display by the President, the State Department, and the Pentagon over the past few months (really years) quite simply beggars belief.

I would hope, by now, that most of the world realizes that Joe Biden (with or without the excuse of his advanced age) is a stumbling, bumbling, appallingly ignorant jackass. Even his ardent defenders in the media, straining credulity to the breaking point, could not hide the scenes of bedlam and calamity at the Kabul airport – if for no other reason than it made for scintillating television. Americans know a disaster when they see one, and even though many will thoughtlessly and reflexively dump all of the blame for this on Donald Trump, some will not. For some, this whole sordid affair has finally acted as a wake-up call as to just what caliber of gov’t the U.S. has on its hands.

I mean, Christ Almighty… Afghans falling from airplanes. Suicide bombers crashing through gates. Taliban fighters bellowing insults in their mumbo-jumbo bullshit language. 13 American servicemen dead. God knows how many Afghans. Hundreds more Americans, perhaps thousands, stranded with no hope in sight. What a goddamn ignominious disgrace...

Oh, we sure know how to raise the Pride Flag 2.0 over all our embassies. We sure know how to rewrite our public communications to be more inclusive of “people who menstruate” and “people with prostates” and “people who identify as whatever-the-fuck”. But to fulfill the basic duties of governance? To protect the lives and interests of Americans at home and abroad?

I mean, what do we look like… “people who know what they’re doing”?

The silver lining in all this – if you could even call it that – is that the Democrats can no longer pretend the adults are back in charge anymore. Even to those who devoutly follow CNN, or MSNBC, or the New York Times, this looks atrocious. The seed of doubt has been planted. Joe Biden, after all, was no-one’s candidate for high office. This unfathomably lucky, otherwise hopeless imbecile has been hovering around Washington for 50 goddamn years, and finally struck it rich for being the least-worst-non-Trump option on the menu – which is saying something.

Of course, we can (and should) tear old Stuttering Joe to pieces, but my worry is that there are far deeper problems at work. What I want to know is who else had a hand in this catastrophe…

For instance, whose bright idea was it to abandon Bagram Airfield? And who the hell thought it was a good plan to simply leave all our equipment and arms behind? I assume these decisions were made by (as yet) unnamed generals or bureaucrats, and I am baffled by their astonishing lack of basic military sense. Whenever retreating from a position, you never EVER leave anything of value to the enemy. Anything you can’t take with you, you destroy. You burn your fuel and your food reserves. You blow up any vehicles or weapons. God dammit, you don’t have to be Carl von Clausewitz to figure this shit out.

Indeed, it is my sincerest hope some intrepid reporter is busy discovering the names and ranks of these worthless warriors. Although I've traditionally thought highly of military men, this grotesque debacle has exposed them for the pathetic political animals most of them really are. Those responsible should have the stars publicly ripped from their shoulders and be sent home in disgrace. For some generals, I would gladly do the honors.

But maybe the generals are blameless and it was interfering State Department whack-jobs who are at fault. Whatever the case, it’s clear to me that the whole of the (still considerable) military and diplomatic power of the United States is in the hands of dangerous pretenders. Guys who wouldn’t even warm the bench in a previous era of government - even under Democrats (see FDR, Truman, etc)

And this is not wholly the fault of Joe Biden, or Donald Trump, or Barack Obama, or George W. Bush… It is just the latest revelation of a long-standing and frankly widespread social problem: We have lost the ability to properly evaluate people across the board.

We can’t really call ourselves a meritocracy anymore. Not for lack of trying, I would say, but rather because we’ve lost sight of what is truly meritorious in a man. Time was when courage and honesty were considered the foundational pillars of moral character, and yet they are very far down on the list of qualities I would ascribe to your average university head, business leader, bureaucrat, politician, or military commander (apparently). No-one seems to possess the faintest ability to even recognize them.

Instead, we rely far too much on paper qualifications of artificial (and increasingly dubious) worth. We value the wrong things and devalue the right things. We respect a certain kind of intelligence – call it “cleverness” – but seemingly have no use for other kinds of intelligence – call them “common sense” or “humility” or "basic decency".

The halls of power are packed with these educated-on-paper, too-clever-by-half moral weaklings and habitual liars. Dr. Anthony Fauci and James Comey spring readily to mind. Two men, who despite their intelligence and ardor for good government (and I’m being charitable here), have so grievously injured the national trust through their “noble lies” and “selective enforcement” that whatever good they hoped to achieve with all their cleverness has been wholly eclipsed by unintended consequences.

And I fear they aren’t the only ones. I have a hunch that all the generals or civilian advisors on the Afghanistan question knew deep down that the war was unwinnable, that the Afghans were never going to congeal as a semi-civilized nation, that the Taliban were the stronger, more determined force in the region. But because their reputation and egos were tangled up in the matter, they couldn’t bring themselves to speak forthrightly to their bosses. Either that or they'd been forced to swallow a lie so long they began to believe in it. Self-delusion is real and incredibly dangerous among people in places of great responsibility. We used to have a way to detect it. We used to warn our children against it. Not anymore.

Then you have the bosses themselves, going all the way back to George Bush. If you ask me, what we should have done, from the very beginning, is to treat Islamic terrorists the way the British once treated pirates – that is to say, you hang them when you catch them. As far as I'm concerned, all these groups are ipso facto enemies of civilization. Men who are, in effect, at war with the world and therefore in possession of no rights whatsoever.

We should’ve gone to Afghanistan with one solitary purpose in mind, to obliterate the Taliban and leave every single member of Al-Qaeda choking in a pool of his own blood. Then gone home for a beer. We shouldn't have ever bothered to take prisoners. We should've known it'd just become a thorny issue later, and whatever information we might have dragged out of them via torture probably wouldn’t be worth the domestic hullaballoo over torture.

Now, I admit this was not always my position on Afghanistan. There was once a time when I believed much of the rhetoric about how “a yearning for liberty stirs in every human heart”, but I’ve since changed my mind. I was wrong, and in the long run, I’m glad our forces are out of Afghanistan (again, for the time-being). In retrospect, the miraculous success of post-war Germany and Japan has planted this idea in generations of foreign policy-makers (and average Americans too) that it's possible, in every instance, to remake defeated nations in our own image. But history is the greatest teacher. (See Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc). At any rate, let us never make these mistakes again.

Had we followed a so-called "brute force" strategy from the beginning, we could've certainly spared ourselves a whole ton of painful and embarrassing complications now. Say what to do with all those Afghans who put their faith in us and are on the verge of being butchered like cattle. Or all those refugees, a good many of whom had no business getting out at all, and now we're stuck figuring out what to do with.

It's staggering to contemplate just how heedless and poorly planned all this was. If anyone else performed so badly at their jobs, they'd immediately be fired and probably charged in criminal court. To say Joe Biden should be impeached is like saying Kate Upton should fall in love with me, but there's certainly little chance of that, so what can we do?

But my God! After twenty years! To leave ourselves in a worse position than when we went in? The Taliban back in charge and equipped with a spanking-new goddamn arsenal? Hundreds of Americans stranded and many to become eventual hostages? Our national reputation shredded to ribbons? Our once soaring eagle running helplessly away like a headless chicken?

Am I on the moon? Is any of this real? Just what the hell has happened to my country? Can so much deterioration have really occurred in just twenty years? Oh, and by the way... Where the fuck is Congress in all this? Last I checked, they have the war-making power, not the president (whoever that may be). Are they totally incapable of making any policy whatsoever? Have we backslid into a rotating dictatorship with just enough democratic gloss to cover it up?

I am baffled, exasperated, and truly at a loss. Triumphant intellectual vandalism at home, villains in ascendance abroad, and a public still gripped by panicky fear of a relatively tame virus most have been vaccinated against. In case anyone (or AI super-weapon) from the future stumbles across this editorial and would like to know what life is like in a fading superpower, take it from me… It sucks balls.

Bring our people home. All of them. That's all I gotta say. Go in there and find them. Bomb whoever you must to make it happen. I don't care. Bring our people home. That's your one fucking job right now. And may God have mercy on your soul if you fail.


James O’Flannery


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