The Afghanistan government fled into the night, taking the last plane to a safe haven, abandoning the people they were allegedly elected to serve and protect. America’s longest war is over. The farce we created disappeared into the night.
The United States has spent at least $6.4 trillion since 2001 on wars in the Middle East. According to a report published by The Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs at Brown University, those wars have killed 801,000 people. The report says of those dead, more than 335,000 have been civilians. Another 21 million people have been displaced due to the violence.
In Afghanistan, 2,448 American service members have died along with 3,846 American contractors, bringing the total to 6,202 American dead plus another 1,145 dead from NATO allies. The acknowledged dead stands at 7,247, a number that no doubt understates the reality.
We spent 20 years on a fool’s errand in our Middle Eastern adventures, wasting and squandering more than $6.4 trillion of our treasure to be defeated and run out of Dodge by an opponent lacking any of our weaponry or sophisticated technology. What did the American people get in return?
We did not spend money on repairing and replacing our aging infrastructure. Our bridges, highways, and other services all require massive reinvestment. We have allowed our education system to deteriorate. We deny the validity of science. We have reduced vital social services, and health care is on life support. We did this for the sake of empire.
The question before us as we see pictures of the Taliban sitting in the presidential office in Kabul, Afghanistan, is what and who do we want to be? We can be an empire or a democracy, but we cannot be both. We are an economic empire that uses over a hundred military bases and outposts in over 100 countries spread around the world to protect, project, and spread our influence and control. We do this at tremendous cost in every respect: economically, environmentally, socially, politically, psychologically, and otherwise.
The Pentagon is a virtual black hole where money is sucked in, no accounting is done, and the value is disproportionately small compared to the money spent. The military-industrial complex is the primary beneficiary. When we see what Russia and China can accomplish with much less investment, we should be concerned.
The question today as we absorb the loss of another war is what we want to do. Who and what do we want to be? The present course of empire is dead-end. At home, our democracy is under attack and in peril of being destroyed by those who desire its demise.
Our defeat in Afghanistan can serve as a wake-up to change our direction and abandon the quest for empire and control, or we can descend into the darkness of authoritarianism, fascism, autocracy, and superstition. The choice is ours.
Also at Jerrymlawson.medium.com