There hasn’t been much statesmanship on display in American politics for half a century. Some, but not a lot. John Kerry’s outstanding patience in forging an Iran nuclear agreement comes to mind.
Statesmanship requires a clear mind, patience and courage
We’re seeing that with Joe Biden pulling the plug on the Afghan war, even while raising the ire of the impatient and gutless.
It was the complainers who allowed a quick, surgical strike unravel into a 20-year war. The gutless witnessed abu Ghraib and Guantanamo without impeaching Bush and Cheney—each of them guilty of war-crimes. The hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil, see-no-evil of both parties poured money (bailed like hay on pallets) and sham-democracy on a nation historically ruled by warlords.
We pasted together a government that had no public backing onto a national military that never engaged an enemy and expected it to succeed where we had failed. It was fake it ‘till you make it empire-building, a Cheney-Rumsfeld house of cards played out on George Bush’s two terms.
Kabul didn’t fall to the Taliban, it collapsed under its own weight
There is no greater example in history of Lincoln’s prophecy that "A house divided against itself cannot stand."
The Taliban will not survive its occupation. It hasn’t the hearts and minds of the Afghans, merely a short-term occupier that will go the way of occupiers since the beginning of time. Great Britain, Russia and the United States are merely the most recent to try and fail.
The truth is that no one knows the hearts and minds of the Afghans, perhaps not even themselves. But a rag-tag Taliban, offering Sharia Islamic law is nothing more than an armed force filling a temporary vacuum. Afghans tasted Sharia for the brief five years the Taliban ruled from ’95 to ‘01and if we know anything at all, we know that Afghans decide their own history and those who would decide for them fare badly.
Yes, a price will be paid for the Bush-Cheney extravaganza
The United States has paid—and will continue to pay—for its theft of yet one more nation’s sovereignty. The wound that will take America longest to heal is not military or financial, we’re used to losing and paying those costs. What will take longest is our willingness to torture, something of which we stand rightly accused before the eyes of the world. The horror of photographic evidence is there to see and we know now the orders came directly from Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush.
Of course, the most direct and immediate cost will be born by the Afghans. Those who aided us may be hunted down and they now face a far less powerful but far more dedicated intruder to their country. The chaos we left behind in Vietnam comes to mind, but that healed far more quickly than was expected.
I apologize for my country. Perhaps more of those who criticize Biden should think hard about doing the same. Every single one of the twenty years we stayed drove the knife a little deeper into Afghan flesh.
Biden shows promise of being that rarest of presidents—a statesman
The easy choice was to stay, particularly with a mid-term election coming up and a great deal at risk. Bush, Obama and Trump all made the easy choice.
Statesmen don’t count the votes. They do what they know to be right.
Image Credit: Salon.com