Kabul’s Collapse and DC’s Incurable Arrogance
After the Taliban captured Kabul far faster than anyone in Washington forecast, secretary of state Tony Blinken went on Sunday morning talk shows and announced that the US mission in Afghanistan had been “successful.” Unfortunately, there will be plenty of robotic civil servants and political appointees who recite that deranged verdict in the coming years.
There is no reason to expect the twenty-year US debacle in Afghanistan to humble Washington policymakers. Korean War fiascos were swept under the rug, paving the way for fresh delusions that led to the Vietnam War. The debacles of the Vietnam War were buried long ago, spurring similar follies in the Afghan and Iraq wars in this century. John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction (SIGAR), reported finding “a USAID lessons-learned report from 1980s on Afghan reconstruction but nobody at AID had read it!” Foreign policy makers will likely remain arrogant and myopic regardless of how many more nations they despoil.
On a winter hike almost a decade ago, I witnessed firsthand both the haughtiness of officialdom and its human cost. I arrived at Great Falls National Park in Maryland early for that Sunday morning jaunt and found a wooden rail fence to lean against as I awaited the arrival of other hikers.
A few minutes later, a handicapped van pulled to the side of the nearby road. A twenty-something woman bounded out of the shotgun seat and zipped around to the side of the van. Her long brown hair was pulled back into a single ponytail topped by a St. Louis Cardinals baseball cap. That bright red hat perfectly complemented a bit of rouge—or maybe she was naturally red cheeked.
When she slid open the side door, her husband poked his head out warily. He had a sturdy jaw rounding out Hollywood-caliber rugged good looks. His military-style close-cropped haircut and his Army Rangers T-shirt settled any doubt about his occupation.
She reached up to provide a slight assist as he moved gingerly out of the van like a toddler taking his first steps. One shirt sleeve was cut off. Instead of a left arm, I saw a metal rod with a wire hand at the end protruding from it. As he exited the van, I noticed that in place of legs he had two metal rods extending downward from his knees.
The soldier clenched a monogrammed wooden cane in his right hand while his wife eased him forward by his left side, brightening a cloudy morning with an unforgettable radiant smile. Perhaps this was a day that she had been hoping and praying for ever since she got the bad news from the other side of the world. This couple was desperately seeking to regain a little normalcy and recapture some of the joys they feared were lost forever when the husband was maimed by a roadside bomb, likely one of thousands of American casualties during Obama’s surge in Afghanistan.
I had no idea how long this guy had been in rehab or how much progress he might have already made. Walter Reed Hospital, the nation’s top military hospital, was only a dozen miles away from the park. The drop-off point the van chose offered quick access to the C&O Canal Towpath and a vista overlooking the Potomac River. I have seen many such couples at this park, at the National Zoo, and at the National Mall. The vast advances in medical treatment had
Article from Mises Wire