If Government Is Good at One Thing, It’s Making a Crisis Worse
Another government failure, another outrage. This time the scandal is brought on by the less-than-orderly withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and the realization that 20 years of military presence in the country achieved nothing but death and chaos. Observing another instance of large-scale mismanagement, I can’t help being surprised that anyone is still surprised.
One needn’t be a foreign policy expert to recognize that something in Afghanistan went terribly wrong. While many will blame the Biden administration for a fiasco that will have horrifying humanitarian consequences for the Afghan people, the failure also belongs to those who made the decision to go and remain there for two decades. These American officials argued that a continuing U.S. military presence there was important for achieving several goals, like training the Afghan army to resist the Taliban. Yet, today, the almost-immediate collapse of the U.S.-backed Afghan government makes it clear that whatever our strategy was, it failed.
Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that those who believed in nation building in the first place will realize from this dreadful episode that it never works as well as planned, even though the tragic scenario now unfolding before our eyes isn’t the first U.S. government foreign policy disaster. And it won’t be the last. People never seem to learn. Making matters worse is the fact that this sad state of affairs isn’t limited to foreign policy. It exists everywhere and throughout all levels of federal, state, and local government.
During the pandemic, for instance, I was baffled to see Congress put the Small Business A
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