Wars of Unintended Consequences | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED X-Frame-Options: DENY X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN

Wars of Unintended Consequences

TomDispatch began with the Afghan War — with a sense I had from its earliest moments that it was a misbegotten venture of the first order. Here, for instance, is a comment I wrote about that disaster in December 2002, a little over a year after the U.S. began bombing and then invaded that country:

“This week, two wounded American soldiers and a dead one brought some modest attention to the American situation in Afghanistan. [The Toronto Sun‘s Eric] Margolis reminds us that the Soviets, too, were initially triumphant in Afghanistan, installed a puppet government, declared the liberation of Afghan women, and churned out similar propaganda about their good deeds. Where the analogy breaks down, of course, is that there is no other superpower left to fund and arm a resistance movement against an American Afghanistan. Still, we declared victory awfully early and didn’t go home. It’s likely to prove a dangerous combination. (The word to watch for in the American press is ‘quagmire.’ When you see that and Afghanistan appearing in the same articles, you’ll know we know we’re in trouble.)”

Unfortunately, when it came to the American media, that Vietnam-era word never made a serious appearance, even as the Afghan War stretched on, year after year, ever more quagmirishly. In a sense, on a planet without another superpower, America was left to play the roles of both the Soviet Union during its disastrous war of the 1980s in Afghanistan and of the United States in those same years when it put such effort into creating a crew of extreme Islamist fighters to take the Russians down. In other words, in a world of one, all the imperial roles were ours and it couldn’t be clearer now that we did indeed take ourselves down in a fashion that, in its final moments at Kabul’s airport, proved all too desperately dramatic.