The American way

Right now, we are embroiled in an overdue reexamination of this mess in Afghanistan. It was sobering, apparently, for folks to wake up to the reality that this is now our longest war ever. And, lo and behold, we now find ourselves sunk into this latest nation-building project up to our bellies. Unfortunately, this is nothing new.

I was in my teens when we began to push the South Vietnamese to take over from us. The war was starting to smell real bad, we wanted out, and yet our leaders, still in a headlock of rabid anti-communism (that moronic domino theory!) would leave only if they felt that those Vietnamese left in power would kill the “bad” Vietnamese and keep those commie heathens at bay. It didn’t work out all that well. The Vietnamese people, it soon became clear, didn’t hate their countrymen from the north as much as we did. We finally did the right thing, declared victory, and got the hell out. It’s curious to note that only then, after we split, did the Vietnamese begin to rebuild their nation. In the last 35 years, they’ve become quite the little success story, with a nice little country and a nice little economy. It’s even re-emerging as a fine destination for Western travelers. In other words, as soon as the nation-builders left, they were able to build their nation.

Cut to Iraq. Same story, different ethnic group. “Please,” we said to the “good” Iraqis after we crashed into their country and busted it up under the pretense of what turned out to be one of the worst intelligence fuckups of all time, “Please get trained by our military and field your own cops/army. Learn who the bad Iraqis are, and kill them on our behalf. We’ll pay you well. Deal?” The Iraqis said sure. They took the money, took the guns, took the training, and then went out on patrol and took off. Our military men would then file reports laced with raw flapdoodle such as, “We see signs of real progress being made. But it’s slow. This will take some time. And a bit more money. The Iraqis prefer crisp new benjamins. Thanks so much.”

And now Afghanistan. Again, the success of our nation-building hinges on our ability to train a bunch of “good” Afghans (as in completely broke Muslim hillbillies who don’t really like us but will do anything at this point) and train them to become killers of “bad” Afghans, or Taliban. Once again, our ability to bribe Afghans into killing each other in order to please The Empire is proving to be spotty. And we’re nine years into this lovely little basket of snakes.

So my entire adult life, I’ve seen my country wage a steady string of extremely questionable wars, pursued mostly on behalf of our porcine military/industrial complex, the only real beneficiaries of these misadventures. Then, we do a crummy job cleaning up the mess. No wonder everybody on Earth digs it when we lose in the World Cup.