Is the War in Afghanistan Really Over?

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A few days ago, NATO officially marked the end of the combat mission in Afghanistan. It is widely being referred to as the end of the war.

On Fox News, we read:

President Obama on Sunday marked the end of the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan by calling it a “milestone” for the country and thanking American troops and others for their “extraordinary sacrifice,” including the more than 2,200 who died in the fight.

Think about this: Sacrifice for what?

“On this day we give thanks,” the president said. “We are safer, and our nation is more secure because of their service…”

Hmm. Are we really? I suppose I’m not sure. By what metric does Obama measure the United States’ safety and security? I suppose we haven’t had another 9/11; but we had the Boston Bombing. We had the Fort Hood shooting. We’ve had numerous other small-scale attacks within the US, some successful and some not, from angry Muslims protesting the wars being waged in Islamic countries. I think it’s safe to speculate that there may be at least a few more in the coming years. Has the 13-year War on Terrorism genuinely given us the best of all possible realities?

The 13-year occupation by the United States and its NATO allies started with airstrikes against Usama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda and its Taliban protectors after the 9-11 terror attacks and ended Sunday with a ceremony at the joint-military headquarters in Kabul. 

As part of the ceremony, Gen. John Campbell, commander of the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force, rolled up and sheathed the green-and-white ISAF flag and unfurled the flag of the new international mission, called Resolute Support.

“Resolute Support will serve as the bedrock of an enduring partnership” between NATO and Afghanistan, Campbell told an audience of Afghan and international military officers and officials, as well as diplomats and journalists.

The passing of 2014 will not see the complete departure of American soldiers from Afghanistan, as the ISAF will transition to a supporting role with 13,500 soldiers, almost 11,000 of them American, starting Jan. 1.

Ah. I see. The war is over; now begins the “international mission”, which is clearly much more benevolent and less nasty-sounding. Nearly 11,000 American soldiers will hang out in Afghanistan until at least 2016; but the war is over.

Let’s think critically about this for a moment. In Afghanistan, will American soldiers still be in danger? Yes. Will they still need to be armed and ever-aware of possible mortar and grenade attacks? Yes. Will they still have to be suspicious of Afghan civilians and Afghan service-members? Yes. Will the American soldiers left to support the “international mission” still be getting killed? Most likely.

If it looks like a war, and it sounds like a war… then we can be certain it’s a war. The War in Afghanistan is not over. Until the last battalion leaves Afghanistan and the drone strikes end, the war ain’t over. Changing the name and playing “musical terms” doesn’t change that fact.

Afghanistan has been the longest war in the history of the USA. In my opinion, it is the new “forgotten war”. Nobody pays attention to Afghanistan. We read about it sometimes. We see sentimental YouTube videos of soldiers returning home from deployment. But let’s be real: nobody cares anymore. People had stopped paying attention by Obama’s election in 2008; after Bin Laden’s death, everyone truly brain-dumped Afghanistan. By now, Afghanistan is little more than a sleepy backwater in the public consciousness, where soldiers go to waste valuable months and years of their lives and where our money goes to be needlessly frittered away.

You’d think that the US government would’ve been more careful. Afghanistan is called “the graveyard of empires” for a very good reason. Alexander the Great couldn’t take it, the British couldn’t take it, and the Soviets couldn’t take it. In all three cases, the invaders were better funded, better equipped, and more highly trained; in all three cases, Afghan tribal guerillas took the initiative and ground down the invaders until all ran away in sheer disgust and agony. What is happening in Afghanistan now is little more than a rerun of invasions’ past. The more things change, the more they apparently stay the same.

There was a huge anti-war public sentiment during the Vietnam War. We haven’t seen anything like it during the Iraq or Afghan wars. Why? One word: Draft. When middle class voters were having their sons forcibly taken from them and thrown into the jungle meatgrinder, the antiwar movement was able to put political pressure on Washington. The impacts of the Vietnam War were being made brutally clear to the American general public. When Nixon repealed the draft in 1973, that brutally clear reminder disappeared. It hasn’t returned. Let us be thankful it hasn’t. But it revealed something important: that Americans generally do not care very much about the military adventures pursued by the US Government, so long as they are largely unaffected by them. Nobody protests Afghanistan. Hardly anyone protested Iraq, beyond mild showboating antics during the early Bush years.

The modern United States is a military empire. It is not taught that way in school, but that is the truth of the matter. The thing to understand about empires is this: they are money-losing operations. It’s not too far off to refer to an empire as a Ponzi scheme, of sorts. Margaret Thatcher once said “the trouble with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” This is a true statement; the same logic can be applied to military empires, which collapse when they finally run out of money. The only people that ultimately come out ahead in an empire are the ruling elites; everyone else ultimately suffers and loses money. Neither do the ruling elites contribute soldiers; the peon foot-soldiers in military empires are almost entirely lower middle-class and beneath.

This is what happened to the British Empire. Britain had been on a fiscally downward spiral since the late 19th century; but it was the two World Wars the sealed the coffin on the British Empire. After WWII, the UK was out of money and out of credit. They had to basically withdraw from most of the world and shut the empire down. The situation was the same with the Soviets: Their empire collapsed in 1991 because it simply had no money left. Gorbachev had no say in the matter. There was no other option remaining. The USSR defaulted on everything and liquidated itself.

I foresee a similar scenario (closer to the British situation) affecting the American Empire. I do not think the US warfare-welfare empire will be rolled back until such a time as when the US government has to declare total bankruptcy and default on it’s obligations. Medicare will be severely curtailed and eventually cut entirely. Social Security will follow suit. All major federal bureaucracies will be significantly pruned and reshuffled to deal with the new bankrupt reality. All the people who thought they could suckle on the teat of the government for sustenance are going to realize that their earthly lord and savior was a lying fraud. In addition, the US military empire will be shrunken considerably, if not entirely. The US Government will simply not have enough money to run the machine anymore. When the US military empires collapses, that’s when we can count on the boys coming home for good. This will be a positive thing.

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