The fall of Kabul is remarkably embarrassing. The parallels between the failure of our war on terror and our new war on Covid are striking.
First, the fall of Kabul. This was inevitable. Now, a quick history lesson will remind you that Trump wanted to negotiate with the Taliban to draw up America’s withdrawal. This attempt was thwarted by most every powerful person in DC. High ranking defense members, Pelosi, and top ranks of his own party overruled. In hindsight, maybe talking with the Taliban wasn’t all that bad a road to cross considering the result today. It did seem that either Trump’s eleventh hour plan, or Biden’s executed plan were the only realistic remaining options. It’s likely those on board with Biden’s recently executed plan never imagined it going this bad. At least, this quickly. This incredible oversight has resulted in an American embarrassment the likes of which our military hasn’t suffered since the fall of Saigon decades ago. The more difficult pill to swallow is that we suffered this very public defeat less than thirty days from our mournful twenty-year remembrance of 9/11.
That alone should infuriate Americans regardless of their political leanings and their taste for this war. The vast majority of Americans have long been anti the war in Afghanistan. We’ve collectively wanted to exit. But, did we need to incur such a visually stunning blow before the 9/11 anniversary? This was an inevitable move by Biden. We had known this. And, despite his incredibly zealous comments that the Taliban would not defeat the American-trained Afghan military, here we are. Defeated.
This is a slap in the face to all those impacted by the horrible events of 9/11. It’s a slap in the face to all those impacted by our crusades in Afghanistan and Iraq when we embarked on our War on Terror. It now feels as if the American response, led by DC elected officials, didn’t sufficiently defend the lives lost and those who’s lives changed forever by the senseless attack on 9/11 against our civilian population. For one thing, the families still await intelligence from DC to long confirm (or potentially prove innocence) that the Saudis were largely part of the attack’s success. For the troops, it now feels as if their lives were lost or changed forever in vain. You hate to mention a line so grim, but what was this all for? We’ve solidified that this was a new generation’s Vietnam. And, while some instances don’t equate to the horrors our troops faced in the late 60s and 70s due to fighting in Vietnam, the parallels are most certainly there.
What will it take for Americans to wake up to this senselessness? We almost universally agreed to go into Iraq and Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks. Twenty years later most see the mistakes, but few realize we’re going down yet another similar road. A road where DC sets us on a path to try and win another non-winnable war. A road where DC scares us into believing it’s OK to temporarily strip us of our constitutionally-protected liberties under the guise of national security. This time it’s Covid.
It was a fight against Islamic extremism to protect Americans home and abroad from terror attacks. Don’t worry they told us. Government and military will protect us. Well, this is statistically true on the home front. After 9/11 more Americans were killed by Americans in senseless attacks than they were by Islamic extremists. More Americans were killed by gun violence than airplanes. More Americans were killed by opioids than anthrax. More Americans were killed by domestic terrorists than Muslim terrorists.
Then came the Patriot Act. A bill nearly universally accepted, while only few on each side saw the future problems it would cause. The Department of Homeland Security is born, and in comes the TSA. Airline travel is forever changed. The NSA carries the water allowing for mass surveillance, or as our government refers to it, intelligence gathering. Then, until Snowden, Americans blissfully went about their business believing we were only monitoring foreigners who were threatening us from abroad. As if. Now, Americans lose their constitutionally-protected rights to search and seizure on an ongoing basis. They told us it would be temporary. They told us it wouldn’t result in us losing our rights. They told us they’d only focus on terror threats abroad. All of this couldn’t have been further from the truth.
They rallied us under a catchy ‘War On Terror’ tagline. Yet, none of us really knew what the endgame was. It began with a fight against Al Qaeda. It was about finding WMDs in Iraq to take out Saddam Hussein. It was the search for bin Laden. Well, all of those came to conclusions years, if not beyond a decade ago. And, for the record, there were and still are no WMDs. So, we set off on a war with no real mission, just a tag line and a goal that consistently changed. Then, we were continually told it was winnable, despite the fact that we were fighting an ideology spread across a region, not a confined group of people living within a distinct border.
Juxtapose all of this with Covid. It started with those catchy tag lines. ‘Flatten the curve’ was the rally cry. Instead of patriotism towards the flag it was reverence of medical professionals. It began with a fight against ensuring hospitals didn’t reach capacity. Then, make sure the ICUs aren’t overrun. Now, a race to vaccinate the entire populous. The goals keep changing. The messaging and targets are always different. Is this a war in which we’re trying to eradicate Covid? Seems like America is yet again going down the path of their favorite pastime since WWII, fighting a non-winnable war. Now, we fight a consistently mutating invisible enemy not confined by a particular line on a map. Well, based on our track record here, it’s safe to say we have another crusade that will result in us waving the white flag when we finally realize that just because we’re the world’s self-proclaimed global superpower, we don’t need to fight and win every possible battle the world throws at us.
The other parallel the war on terror and Covid has is the liberties Americans sacrificed or lost in the fight. Healthcare information was once protected. Our data was private. Now, our healthcare data is forced to be publicly displayed to a stranger upon an attempt to enter a restaurant. Is anyone asking when this goes back to what it was in 2019? Well, if we use the tactics of the NSA and TSA as our guide, it’s safe to say, never. Employers dared not ask employees about their health. Now, it’s all but a requirement to physically enter your place of work. Has anyone stopped to think about the slippery slope we’re going down? Today it’s Covid, but what will we be checking for tomorrow? Think about it after 9/11. It was only supposed to be gathering info on a specific group of foreign targets we had reason to believe we’re going to inflict imminent harm on American civilians. Today, Tucker Carlson was proven to be someone the NSA actively snooped on without any rational reason. Today, it’s quickly becoming common to force someone to prove they’ve received an inoculation prior to being granted access to concerts and other entertainment venues. In fact, we have sitting US Congress members drafting legislation to prevent non-vaccinated people from flying on airplanes. Where does it stop? Remember when we were only taking our shoes off because of one thwarted attack? Remember when we were forced to limit our liquid carry-on because of one thwarted attack? So, why would anyone believe these changes to our lives will be temporary? There’s not much that entered our lives after 9/11 that didn’t become permanent unless you want to bring up the time Americans were amazingly united and patriotic following those horrific attacks. That’s about the only thing that went away.
Think of other things that changed since 9/11 due to national security. We made our state IDs more secure and strict, including the Real ID that requires the gold star to “verify” yours is in fact real. It’s ironic, because we have to show these IDs to board a plane, but God forbid you show them to vote. You need to flash your private health data to enter a restaurant, but come on in and cross the American border with no documents needed. It’s a shame Americans won’t wake up to another 9/11 happening right before their eyes. Senseless spending. Enhanced surveillance. Fighting another invisible enemy. Here we go again.
Government is not the A-Team. They aren’t the Avengers. It’s simply a group of civilians who came together via elections where citizens of this country selected who will represent them and their needs. Some of those elected have a particular set of skills that are helpful while they’re on the job. Most have skill sets that would be better used elsewhere. Then, these elected officials take the power we bestowed upon them to run, operate, and employ other Americans within the particular duties and obligations of the government. These lines of business are everything from schools, health facilities, and our military. When will Americans realize that just because these people have a particular title or role, that doesn’t necessarily make them the most qualified for the job. That’s unfortunately not what government has proven to do for it’s people. It’s why many believe that government should be limited in scope.