The blame game in the Afghanistan debacle is now in full swing. Most of the critics are blaming President Biden for the debacle. For them, he has become the Scapegoat in Chief. Others are blaming Trump and Obama, the former for cutting a deal with the Taliban to end the 20-year U.S. occupation and the latter for his failure to expand his “surge” of U.S. troops and “win” the war.
Unfortunately, few of the critics are going back to the original problem — President Bush’s (and the Pentagon’s and CIA’s) invasion of Afghanistan in the first place, way back in 2001.That’s the root of the debacle but, unfortunately, interventionists are loath to confront that fact.
Consider the big concern of many of the critics — that Afghanistan under renewed Taliban rule will, once again, become a “haven” for the terrorists, who supposedly will use the country to have meetings, where they will carefully plan and orchestrate another big terrorist attack on the United States.
See? These people just don’t get it. And they didn’t get it back in 2001. They think that terrorism is like Covid. It just spreads around the world willy-nilly until it finally reached the United States on 9/11.
That notion is ridiculous. And it was ridiculous when it was raised after the 9/11 attacks, when U.S. officials and their interventionist supporters were saying, with straight faces, that the terrorists just hate us for our “freedom and values.”
The reason for the anti-American terrorism back in 2001 was pre-9/11 U.S. interventionism, which had been carried out in the Middle East by the Pentagon and the CIA practically since the U.S. national-security establishment lost its official Cold War enemy in 1989.
From 1991 to 2001, the Pentagon’s and the CIA’s interventionism in the Middle East was deadly and destructive. It killed countless innocent people in the Middle East.
Now, there is something important to understand about deaths of innocent people. Other people get angry. Some of them get outraged. Some of them want vengeance.
Think about the 9/11 attacks. Innocent people were killed. Most Americans were angry and outraged. Many of them wanted vengeance.
Well, guess what. Foreigners are no different. When the Pentagon and the CIA were going on their interventionist killing spree in the Middle East from 1991 to 2001, the reaction of many people in the Middle East was the same. Anger and outrage. And some of them wanted vengeance.
It was that anger, outrage, and thirst for vengeance (i.e., not hatred for America’s “freedom and values”) that motivated the 9/11 attacks, just as they motivated the anti-American terrorism that preceded the 9/11 attacks — i.e., the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, the USS Cole, and the U.S. Embassies in East Africa.
Take a look at the book Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire by Chalmers Johnson. It was written before the 9/11 attacks. Johnson, who is now deceased, was one of the finest analysts on U.S. foreign policy. I cannot recommend his books too highly. They are all worth reading today. So are his online articles. Just Google “Chalmers Johnson.”
In Blowback, Johnson warned that if the U.S. government continued down its deadly interventionist road, the outcome would be a massive terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
He wasn’t the only one. Here at The Future of Freedom Foundation, we were publishing articles that said the same thing, before the 9/11 attacks.
So, when the 9/11 attacks came, Johnson wasn’t surprised. Neither were we.
Immediately after the attack, conservatives were screaming for vengeance. So were many conservative-oriented libertarians. They were fully on board with Bush’s invasion of Afghanistan.
Here at FFF, we were holding lonely ground. We steadfastly maintained that invading Afghanistan would prove to be an absolute disaster. Countless people who had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks would be killed. Innocent people would be injured and maimed. The entire country would be destroyed by U.S. bombs.
Moreover, all that continuous death and destruction would lead to more anger, outrage, and thirst for vengeance, which it did. That’s what made the terrorist threat a “forever” threat. Way back then, I wrote that the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan (and, of course, Iraq) was the greatest terrorist-producing machine ever invented.
After having lost their official Cold War enemy in 1989, the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA were still in high cotton. Budgets were soaring. The “war on terrorism” racket was turning out to be more lucrative and long-lasting for the military-intelligence-industrial complex than the “war on communism” racket.
And look what happened to the rights and liberties of the American people. The Patriot Act, the airport pat-downs, the secret surveillance, the assaults on privacy, and so much more. The longer the occupations went on, the more fearful Americans became of the terrorists, and the worst things got here at home with respect to liberty and privacy.
All this is why it is imperative that we confront directly the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. That’s the only way to move our nation in a better direction — one toward peace, prosperity, harmony, and liberty. The blame game will get us nowhere.
It was wrong to invade Afghanistan back in 2001. Interventionists, including libertarian interventionists, who supported that invasion were dead wrong. By engaging in the blame game today on “who lost Afghanistan?” even while maintaining that invading Afghanistan in the first place was a good idea, interventionists are on the wrong track, one that will lead America to even more debacles, disasters, and loss of liberty.