I’ve just been listening to a panel of experts on Nicolle Wallace’s MSNBC show, opining critically on what is happening in Afghanistan.
I am, emotionally and intellectually, in a combination of sarcastic bewilderment and fury. With one exception, the experts and their host seem to have deleted (recent) history from their brains.
Let’s go back twenty years and recall why our mighty armed forces were in Afghanistan in the first place.
Reason number 1: the Bush administration, for whom Nicolle Wallace worked, ignored or shrugged off or failed to comprehend (because they were not particularly smart or attentive) intelligence that Al Qaeda intended a terrorist act against the United States probably using large aeroplanes.
Reason number 2: the Twin Towers in my beloved city were hit and collapsed. I recall this event fairly accurately. From a large window in my dentist’s office I watched the North Tower, bleeding and burning, when an immense ball of fire floated to the ground after the second plane hit the South Tower, not visible to us.
We did not know precisely what was happening, but as Joe, my dentist, said, “This is not good.”
After my teeth were addressed, I walked from my dentist’s at 40th Street through groups of my fellow New Yorkers, stunned and crying. I walked all the way downtown to where I worked, at Hudson and Franklin, one of a very small number of people moving against the tide of grim thousands who were coming north, covered in white soot, still carrying their briefcases.
Reason number 3: Men, especially men in power, love war. There are times during which it seems all men can do is make all those war noises and do speeches and command the troops. Time to remind everyone that no one in New York City, as profoundly affected as we were, called for all-out war as a response to our catastrophe. Maybe because we New Yorkers read the brilliant reporting in the New York Times which presented concise biographical histories of each fanatic who committed that act of mass murder and suicide. They were, each of them, clinically insane. The Bush reaction to this crazy small gang of terrorists was…what’s the expression for it? Out of proportion? A cloak of smoke to cover up his real failure at stopping the attack?
As a New Yorker, I was thinking of a more targeted, fine-tuned, artful and intelligent response against a small terrorist cabal. Because we are supposedly an intelligent civilization, which happens to have all those teams of elite special forces. But then I didn’t vote for Bush. And I’m a female and do not understand war.
So there we were, establishing a war in Afghanistan. For what purpose? Making Nicolle Wallace’s boss a, gulp, War Time President! And we know that’s the goal of far too many presidents: having a war of one’s very own. Being CinC beats actually having to do a real day’s work for the American people.
The people yammering on MSNBC seemed to have forgotten how this rotten thing happened, and who promoted it. So it’s both ignorant and knee-jerk to blame Joe Biden for pulling us out. Especially since it was the loathsome former guy who “negotiated” — or whatever he called it — our departure.
Katty Kay. Who the fuck is this remarkably off-putting bleached blond with a Brit accent who spent her time on Nicolle’s show advising us crisply that the United States has lost all sorts of credibility, lost allies, lost…face, I guess she’s saying, by pulling out of a twenty-year war. Katty, bless her, is focusing on what a disaster our pull-out is for Afghanistani women and girls. To whom, she says, we promised so much and now we are abandoning them.
Oh, Katty Kay. Yeah, Katty, that’s precisely why we engaged in this dreadful failure of a war. We didn’t send our mighty troops (along with our allies’ mighty troops) to Afghanistan in pointless overkill against a tiny group of religious fanatics who lived some of the time in remote caves, led by a paranoid schizophrenic. Oh no. We shipped troops and weaponry to a primitive misogynistic theocracy in order to…rescue the Afghan women! And how disgraceful it is that we’re withdrawing from that promised purpose!
Another purpose seems to have been to attack Afghanistan in order to instruct by example an Afghan army that could learn, by fighting us, how to do what armies are supposed to do: protect a country against attack. That is, an army that could guarantee we would never again be able to invade Afghanistan. We spent a lot of money on that purpose. Doesn’t seem to have worked.
I’ve had it. Yes, I agree with the U.S. generals. It’s heartbreaking to see what’s happening in Afghanistan. Which is, in essence, a retreat to its former primeval state before we waged a war for the overweening purpose of introducing the Afghans to the 20th century. Or 21st century.
But it was heartbreaking and dumb to wage war on a fragmented country when a very small group of non-Afghans, taking refuge in that country, decided to fly our planes into my city.
If you generals had thought this through twenty years ago and discouraged Bush from a massive invasion in favor of the sort of sharp, targeted operation, based on good intelligence, that found Bin Laden — remember him? — you wouldn’t have to be so heartbroken now.
By the way, Nicolle, don’t ask generals about the strategy of getting out of a war. They do not know how to get out of war. They only know how to wage it when told to do so.
As for Katty Kay, oh shut the fuck up.