US President Joe Biden has just announced that he’ll be pulling out all American troops from Afghanistan. We’ve heard this before…notably from President Obama when he took office in Jan 2009. Instead, he escalated the war even after Osama Bin Laden – who was ostensibly the reason for the war, after he had found refuge there with the Taliban – after his Al-Qaeda blew up the World Trade Center on Sept 11, 2001.
But let’s take Biden at his word. After all, the US signed a peace agreement with the Taliban in Feb 2020, agreeing to a US pullout within 14 months. Which is next week!! Looking forward to ending the longest war in US history, the New York Times ran a tally sheet. They, of course, focused on the money, since that’s what makes the world go around, doesn’t it? Turned out the US spent US$2 TRILLION in the twenty years since George W. Bush launched Operation “Enduring Freedom”.
The Americans talk about getting “a bang for their buck”, and there was certainly a lot of “bang” for those two trillion bucks! More than 60,000 Afghan National Forces members and 40,000 civilians were killed, plus 3500 Americans and their allies. The Taliban? No one knows, since they operate as guerrillas, and withdraw with their dead. But it has to number in the tens of thousands.
But after all that bang and those bucks – augmented most recently by Trump – what’s the status of Afghanistan? While there’s a “democratic government” in place, that doesn’t say much, since the Taliban control most of the country. And they’ll certainly take over after the withdrawal of the Americans. So much for “Enduring Freedom”.
So, your Eyewitness asks: are there any lessons we can take away for us in Guyana? Well, the first one that jumps out is that history seems to like ironies. The banging had started when the US became upset when the Soviet intervened in Afghanistan, when the latter’s communist government came under attack from Muslim insurgents in 1979. The US pumped funding and special forces into training the latter, among them one Osama Bin Laden, and the Soviets were routed. But the Muslim forces, now called the “Taliban”, became the enemy when they and Osama defined America as “the Great Satan”, for the US actions in the Middle East, and they took down the WORLD Trade Center.
Another lesson we can take away is that democracy can take root only when the people see it in a positive light. Right now, in Guyana, the PNC and many of those in their camp have rejected democracy, as we saw on March 5, 2020.
This does not bode well for us. Forewarned is forearmed?
Your Eyewitness has been carrying on at a rate for quite a while now, at the refusal of us, as Guyanese, to get with the programme on observing the COVID protocols. To no avail. So, he’s been putting some thought as to why this is so. And his conclusion is that, as a people, we are just too selfish. Why don’t we wear masks when masks would prevent us from spreading any virus we may have? Well, “I” want to breathe easier. Why party when the event can become a super spreader? Hey! “I” have to enjoy myself.
But this selfishness just didn’t start with the COVID-19 pandemic. Have you not experienced the “boring” phenomenon at every traffic jam? So what if folks were waiting patiently for hours? The use of “lines” to jump any line? The scientist Robert Dawkins, who wrote about “The Selfish Gene”, also wrote about “memes” – behavioural patterns that are passed down culturally by imitation.
Selfish persons survive better, he says. But not with COVID!!
As you may’ve suspected, your Eyewitness is in a reflective mood. Is it because of loneliness occasioned by the COVID-19 lockdown? We’re finding out that virtual interactions just aren’t keeping the doldrums out.
Gotta press the flesh more!