Will the U.S. still be meddling in Afghanistan 30 years from now?
If history is any guide, the answer is yes. And if history is any
guide, three decades from now most Americans will have only the haziest
Since the 1950s, the U.S. has been trying to mold that remote land to its own desires, first through an aid “war” in the midst of the Cold War with the Soviet Union; then, starting as the 1970s ended, an increasingly bitter and brutally hot proxy war with the Soviets meant to pay them back for supporting America’s enemies during the war in Vietnam. One bad war leads to another.
then until the early 1990s, Washington put weapons in the hands of
Islamic fundamentalist extremists of all sorts -- thought to be natural,
devoutly religious allies in the war against “godless communism” --
gloated over the Red Army’s defeat and the surprising implosion of the
Soviet empire, and then experienced its own catastrophic blowback
from Afghanistan on September 11, 2001. After 50 years of scheming
behind the scenes, the U.S. put boots on the ground in 2001 and now, 12
years later, is still fighting there -- against some Afghans on behalf
of other Afghans while training Afghan troops to take over and fight their countrymen, and others, on their own.
Through it all, the U.S. has always claimed to have the best
interests of Afghans at heart -- waving at various opportune moments the
bright flags of modernization, democracy, education, or the rights of women. Yet today, how many Afghans would choose to roll back the clock to 1950,
before the Americans ever dropped in? After 12 years of direct combat,
after 35 years of arming and funding one faction or another, after 60
years of trying to remake Afghanistan to serve American aims, what has
it all meant? If we ever knew, we’ve forgotten. Weary of official
reports of progress, Americans tuned out long ago.