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Hit the road, Sam!

Hit the road, Sam!

After 20 cruel and unnecessary years, Uncle Sam rapidly packed his weapons and his dollars in Afghanistan and —once again— abandoned those he had promised to enlighten with a system that Sam cannot even defend or guarantee at home. 

The “Saviors” rapidly gathered their not-so-holly wraps, which were also rapidly replaced by the tunics, flags and weapons of the bearded warriors of the Taliban. Sam and his troops ran to the airport, while the triumphant Taliban troops occupied Kabul. Barefooted or wearing their sandals and turbans, the Taliban entered the halls where power is housed in Afghanistan.

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In the name of  “democracy,” that always useful historical subterfuge, thousands of lives were lost and trillions of dollars were spent in Afghanistan. The clear losers: the people of Afghanistan and —to a lesser extent— the gullible or impotent people of the United States. A majority might have been against the war, but there was nothing they could do to stop it. 

The clear winners: the contractors who build and sell weapons. Any doubts about that?

Today, the front pages of newspapers all over the world are filled with images clearly evocative of the photos and stories that were printed when the war in Vietnam ended. People desperate to abandon their country, because they had taken the side of the “Liberating” (or “Invading”) forces of the U.S. Stories and images depicting the defeat of a system that insists in believing and loving the smell of its own propaganda, while a foul stench emanates from what is clearly a total defeat.

Somewhat predictably, back in the U.S. a sudden explosion of sympathy for the Afghan people resonates. Especially for the women of that country. 

Suddenly, if we read the news and see the photos and memes that appear in all media sources, including social media, it appears as if the reason for the long and brutal war had been the defense of Afghan women! Not oil, not the persecution and assassination of Osama bin Laden, for his role on the Twin Towers attack in 2001, or even the need for a constant presence by the U.S. in any region of the world deemed necessary for the protection of “our way of life.”

Screenshot from a video of hundreds of Afghans running alongside a US Air Force C-17 transport plane, in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug.16, 2021. Some climbed onto the plane as it took off, eventually falling to their death.

Afghanistan was the false pretext to the ill-conceived adventure in Iraq. Somehow the U.S. campaign to avenge the 9/11 attacks transferred from Afghanistan to Iraq. The government rationale for this bait and switch was not particularly persuasive. On Feb. 5, 2003, then U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell gave a speech to the United Nations, a speech filled with falsehoods.

Although many in his own government told him that his “talking points” were either misleading or outright lies, Powell outlined the United States’ accusation that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. That fateful speech made the argument for an invasion that took place the following month. 

Today, many years later, those cruel and baseless wars seem to be over and many people in the U.S. are expressing outrage and regret. But it is too little and too late. The time to protest and show concern for them was 20 years ago, as the leaders of this country prepared their attack. 

Besides, public concern will not last long. It is not the “American way.”  

Events such as the fall of Kabul, or yet another earthquake in Haiti, following the assassination of Haiti’s president (with apparent complicity from U.S. and Colombian soldiers of fortune), or President Biden’s “preoccupation” with the people of Cuba (without mentioning the cruel embargo against that nation, now over 60 years in place!), might as well be taking place in a galaxy very far away. Passing comets in the dark skies of today’s news. Gone in a flash.

Thus, the sudden and urgent concern for the women of Afghanistan, or the children of Iraq, or those affected by political or natural earthquakes in Haiti, will soon be forgotten, because whatever happens outside U.S. borders is secondary to what is happening inside. 

As long as the people living in the U.S. remain in a very relative comfort, “foreign events” do not matter. As far as foreign affairs, the U.S. government can do anything it wants and —most likely— the people will not interfere. 

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How can they? It would seem as if the people’s hands and tongues are tied in relation to foreign affairs. Why? Is it, perhaps, because their hands are also very tied internally as any attempt to change the course of their own destiny is either coerced or boycotted by Republicans and the conservatives who control the Democrats? 

The voting by new immigrants, by Black people, or the hand-cuffing of younger voters by both parties is alive and well today. Is this the democracy the U.S. is trying to export to the world?

Wasted opportunities seems to be the historical theme for the U.S. I am not saying wasted as if referring to lost chances to impose a military might, but lost opportunities to become an agent for world peace and to stop the onslaught caused by invented wars. Why can’t this country have the basic respect of allowing other peoples to decide for themselves as to what kind of government they choose? 

Again, if they cannot even allow that to occur at home, mistakes will be repeated. 

As I wrote earlier, if there is relative comfort internally, there will be muteness, not mutiny. 

Or even mild concern.

Hit the road, Sam! And don’t you come back no more, no more, no more, no more!

El Tecolote turns 52 this August!