Does our withdrawal from Afghanistan bother you?
If so, why?
Publicly the US has formally declared war about five times https://www.va.gov/vetsinworkplace/docs/em_datesNames.html but historically speaking there isn’t a time in American history that we haven’t been part of some kind of war.
People are up in arms and upset, some military members are taking their voices to social media because they can (which is bad for them).
When I joined the Navy, I knew about Vietnam and I was watching the news on Iraq and Iran. I knew about WWII and the complicated history of that war. I knew about WWI and other wars before it. I knew of these wars in an American heroic way, very abstracted.
Many our service members join very young. The history books aren’t taught to us like Ken Burns PBS specials. We learn about war at an abstract level and I am confident many of the kids serving don’t have the complexities of war in their command. I’d argue that many of our officer types don’t either.
We the “free people” enjoy our time and the perceptual freedom we have because the war machine keeps working. Our children, brothers, and sisters who serve are all part of the machine. Leaving Afghanistan isn’t a surprise. The way we are leaving isn’t a surprise either.
If we wanted to win the war in Afghanistan or in any other place, we could win. Winning is not the best option economically and from a social perspective across the globe it wouldn’t work out so well. Do you think all the folks in that region would be good with Afghanistan being a part of the US? We didn’t win because we didn’t want to win. It’s the same with other wars.
What do we do?
Pretty confident the news will die down and we will find some enemy to focus on. Probably ISIS and the Taliban will be bad but not that bad. Our ideas about democracy, right and wrong, morale code and all that are our ideas. They don’t convey to the rest of the world and even if we wanted them to, we’d need to destroy the people who think otherwise. We don’t destroy them and even if we busted them up a bit, we’d pay to fix the damage.
If you want to know what happens next, login to your local library online account and download some books about history. You’ll learn a few things. We humans fight with each other for any reason we can think of. We live in a world with intractable problems that have NO resolution other than destroy or overtake those who disagree. We always live in constant conflict and we are always in some war somewhere. It is how we continue to survive as a nation. We have other options like “the war against cancer and disease” or “the war against climate change” or “the war against famine.” There are plenty of wars we can fight to help and save humanity but those wars are harder because they require us to work together against a common enemy. We would all have to believe these things are common enemies, but we don’t.
Even if aliens came from the sky and attacked us, we would still be likely to find a way to hurt each other along the way. I have no idea why but this is what history teaches us.
I am grateful to my friends and fellow service members because I know what it feels like to have the passion of service and comradery. The war isn’t about them. The war is actually about us. If we want something different, not only would we need to convince ourselves. We would need to convince our enemies.
We would need to stop the machine.
What do you think?