A ‘Humanitarian Catastrophe’ In Afghanistan. What Else Is new?
I spent the last four years listening to the mainstream, ‘fake’ news media go on and on about the new wave of right-wing populism unleashed by Donald Trump. The only problem was that it wasn’t true. This wave of populism was so strong that in 2020, with the exception of Florida, Trump lost every, single state that he flipped from blue to red in 2016.
So now that the liberal media can’t push the populist nonsense any more, they have to come up with a new slogan when they talk about Joe. And yesterday the slogan appeared in a piece in The New Yorker Magazine, which will no doubt become the catch-phrase of liberal political narrative for the foreseeable future, the phrase being the ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ that is about to engulf Afghanistan.
I notice, incidentally, that the President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, took off yesterday for ‘points unknown.’ Maybe he’ll reappear on Star Island off of Miami, where Fulgencio Batista ended up after Castro showed up in Havana in 1958. Or better yet, maybe he can go to Saudi Arabia and get ensconced in the villa that was a home away from home for Idi Amin in 1979.
But no matter where we end up stashing this crook — he and his buddies only stole $35 billion chump change from the U.S. Treasury over the last six or seven years — what he’s leaving behind is a ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ for which the United States is partially, if not wholly to blame.
And who’s doing the blaming? None other than the Dean of the Columbia School of Journalism, Steve Coll, in a piece that just appeared in The New Yorker Magazine. And when The New Yorker Magazine and the CU Journalism School get together and say something about anything, whatever they say will become the accepted mantra about that situation for the entire mainstream media, that’s for goddamn sure.
In this interview, Coll makes the point that our ‘failure’ in Afghanistan was largely due to the idea that, “building a standing army of three hundred thousand in a country that has been shattered by more than forty consecutive years of war and whose economy is almost entirely dependent on external aid — that just doesn’t work.”
Forty years? Does this academic turned journalist who has published two books on American involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan actually believe that what has happened in Afghanistan can be explained by just looking at the events of the past forty years?
The United States has been directly involved in the politics of the Near East region for at least seventy-five years, if not more. Take a look again at the map that I posted on yesterday’s column:
Now here’s the same region after World War I:
Notice that the one country with no ‘sphere of influence’ in the Near East after World War I is the United States. That’s because we were uninterested in getting involved in any foreign zone other than Latin America (thanks to the Monroe Doctrine) until the Brits got their rear ends handed to them in World War II and we took over where they left off.
Note the British Union Jack over what is now the country of Iraq. The southern half of Iran, called Persia on this map, was allegedly independent but it was also under British control. And who sent the Marines into Iran in 1954, overthrew the Mossadegh regime and set up something called the Pahlavi regime, a.k.a., our good buddy the Shah of Iran? That’s right. We did.
The point is that we have been mucking around in the Near East for a lot longer than the last forty years. And for Steve Coll and his media buddies to all of a sudden become so concerned about the ‘humanitarian crisis’ in Afghanistan is a little too little, and a little too late.
Every, single one of these countries in the Near East — Syria, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, — has known an endless and continuous humanitarian crisis since the Ottomans came down from Constantinople in the 15th Century and showed all the local tribal leaders and nickel-and-dime potentates how to really keep things under control. I didn’t notice Steve Coll or anyone else in the liberal media getting all upset about the lack of humanity in Tunisia which led to the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings throughout the Near East in 2010.
Think Bashar al-Assad in Syria is a real bastard? The Israelis tell a great joke about his father, Hafez al-Assad, who ruled the country from 1971 until 1999. The joke goes like this:
One day Assad says to his Interior Minister, “Let’s hold an election. The United Nations loves elections. But just make sure that I’m the only name on the ballot.”
So, a week later the election takes place and the following day the Interior Minister runs up to Assad and says, “Mister President! Mister President! I am pleased to inform you that you received 99 and 8 tenths of all the votes! In other words, only two-tenths of the people don’t’ like you. What else could you want?”
Assad replies, “Their names.”
I think it’s difficult for people living in a country which, Pandemic notwithstanding, is as stable and law-abiding and democratic as the United States, to understand or even contemplate that in many countries, particularly countries like Afghanistan, the so-called ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ isn’t a situation that erupts from time to time.
It’s the way life is lived. You think when Thomas Hobbes wrote that life was ‘nasty, brutish and short,’ that what he said in 1651 isn’t true throughout the world today?