On Tuesday, President Joe Biden delivered an address that officially brought America’s 20-year war in Afghanistan to a close. There’s no doubt that conflict will continue in that country as the Taliban, ISIS-K, and other forces scramble to gain control in a civil war that has gone on over twice as long as the U.S. involvement in that country. It also seems likely that there will be more drone strikes or other military actions as the U.S. seeks retribution for the airport bombing that took the lives of 13 young service women and men who were days away from leaving. But the era of American “boots on the ground”—the era of America occupying Afghanistan and trying to remold that country into something it has never been—is over.
Perhaps more importantly, in a forceful speech that won’t get one tenth the attention it deserves, President Biden made it clear that occupation and “nation building” do not serve America’s interest, and that in a completive world where both terrorism and other nations present an ever-shifting challenge, the last thing America needs is to be bogged down supporting thousands of troops deployed on decades-long missions. “This decision about Afghanistan is not just about Afghanistan,“ said Biden. “It’s about ending an era of major military operations to remake other countries.“
Whether that declaration will hold up to the itchy trigger fingers of future presidents is far from clear. Still, Biden’s speech was the first since President Eisenhower talked about the threat of the “military industrial complex” to direct the United States toward a situation where the incredible costs of military adventurism can be rechanneled into actions that don’t generate explosions.
Obviously, an attempt to do something so massive is going to generate pushback from those who profit from war. Which is why Republicans and the media are both determined to make ending a war seem far worse than starting one.
In 1961, Eisenhower called the “conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry” something that was new in America. He warned that the influence of that new thing would be felt in ”every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government.” When Eisenhower made that speech, the United States was already entangled in Vietnam. It would not leave for another 14 years. And, unfortunately, the only thing “learned” from the fall of Saigon seemed to be a desire to go out and do it again. And again.
Afghanistan didn’t top Vietnam when it came to the number of U.S. forces lost—thank God—but it certainly became a massive cash cow to the military industrial complex that Eisenhower talked about. In modern dollars, the cost of Afghanistan was about half the total cost for World War II: every battleship, bomber, fighter plane, tank, D-Day, and Manhattan Project included. That’s an enormous, economy-shaking cost that was undertaken for … what?
For years, the networks devoted less time to this 300 million dollar-a-day bleed than they did to a single sitcom episode. But when it came to turning off that tap, the networks exploded with coverage—coverage in which the words “chaos” and “disaster” figured prominently. Reporters who had devoted exactly no effort to learning thing one about the military situation in Afghanistan became overnight experts in every aspect of the situation there, unfailing oracles who certainly knew exactly how things were going to play out. They just didn’t, you know, bother to tell anyone in advance.
There was CNN’s Clarissa Ward telling the world that it was impossible for 50,000 people to be evacuated from Kabul. But really, that was nothing. Not when The Atlantic compared Biden’s evacuation of over 100,000 Afghans to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. “This betrayal will live in infamy,” wrote staff writer George Packer. “The burden of shame falls on President Joe Biden.”
When they weren’t wearing the letters off those C.H.A.O.S. keys, the media was showcasing Republican voices who were more than happy to use all the suddenly copious Afghanistan-related airtime to make it clear that everything that had ever happened in Kabul was Joe Biden’s fault. As The Washington Post reports, Republicans have been thrilled at the way they’re getting to heap everything onto Biden.
Ted Cruz tweeted an image that supposedly showed the Taliban hanging a man from a helicopter. It wasn’t real. Multiple Republicans claimed that Biden didn’t attend the ceremony meeting the caskets of the 13 service members killed at the airport. That was a lie. There have been endless stories claiming that military dogs were left in crates at the airport. It didn’t happen. And every Republican in Congress seems to have jumped on the claim that Biden abandoned $85 billion of military hardware that never existed in the first place. That mythical $85 billion in equipment—a number that seems to have originated entirely from a Trump statement—has replaced “what about the border” as the go-to Republican response when asked any inconvenient question. Republicans know the number they’re using is wrong. But why stop shouting it at every opportunity when the media isn’t calling them on it?
After all, it’s not like the Republicans aren’t still getting a lot of help. That same Post article starts off by explaining how the evacuation went “poorly” and explains that much of the bad press is Biden’s fault for delivering rosy predictions about what would be accomplished—even though those predictions that drastically undersold what really happened. So it should be no surprise that Sean Hannity is out there promoting a “rescue effort for 50+ military dogs left behind in Afghanistan,” even though not one part of that statement is real.
But then, facts don’t factor. Not when it comes to taking this opportunity to attack a Democratic president, or this opportunity to show that while starting a war earns nothing but praise, ending a war will always be punished.
From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.