Afghanistan: Are We Losing the Race to Save Our Century?
I haven’t watched “The News” since August 13, when I took the first phone call from someone who needed help getting out of Afghanistan. Since then, I’ve been working nonstop with almost a thousand Afghans and their family members, friends, Church leaders or veterans who served with them. Most still haven’t made it out.
For the vulnerable people of Afghanistan and the Americans who stand with them, everything has changed.
So when I finally came up for air yesterday and watched the mainstream political commentary surrounding the Afghanistan withdrawal, it was jarring. For the legacy media and their neoconservative and neoliberal backers, nothing has really changed at all.
A New World Mordor
For years, we’ve heard them talk about a New World Order. They talk about “change” and democracy, “social justice” and “gender equality.”
But in Afghanistan, all of the high-minded talk of neocons and liberal internationalists was just propaganda for going in. And on the way out, they’ve dropped even the pretense that it ever meant anything to them.
That’s because the worldview of these oligarchs is meaningless. It’s not a real philosophy or set of principles at all. It’s just an ad campaign for powerful interests. To them, real, vulnerable people are just poster children. They use them for a season, then forget them.
That’s how advocates of the shiny New World Order can remain so inhumanly unmoved by the catastrophic failure of our government to stand with the vulnerable in Afghanistan. For them, it’s not a “failure.” It’s just the end of one of their ads.
Rinse and Repeat
This is what happens when we leave the fate of the world in the hands of the same embedded Oligarchy year after year after year.
I remember the language about what we’d do for the people of Iraq, the people of Libya, and the people of Afghanistan.
What do we have in Libya now? Open air slave markets. In Iraq? A country overrun by violent Iranian backed militias. Plus thousands of young democracy protesters gunned down by the very government we helped establish.
Left for Dead
It’s been almost a month since our Afghan friends started receiving the Taliban’s threats: We know where you are, and we’re coming for you as soon as the Americans leave. The threats are no secret. We have video of Taliban soldiers saying it out loud: “Hey Hazaras! We are awaiting orders from our leaders, [and] swear to God, we will wipe out your race from Afghanistan.”
This week, I’ve heard relentless gunfire in the background during phone calls with vulnerable Afghans my organization is working to help. I knew that wasn’t gun battles between two opposing forces. It was the Taliban gunning down unarmed people for being foolish enough to befriend and work with America. That is, the American government that officially left them for dead yesterday.
And while the Taliban begins its campaign of door-to-door executions, our Afghan friends now also face another menace. A rushed U.S. drone strike, carried out by a Biden administration trying to stave off a “public perception” of weakness, killed 10 civilians last week.
The White House did a victory lap in the press, saying it had killed the ISIS-K “planner” behind the deadly Kabul suicide mission. You know, the one that took the lives of 13 U.S. servicemen and an unknown number of Afghans. But the U.S. strike killed 7 children, and the main “target” was reportedly an Afghan who worked with American aid groups and hoped to escape the Taliban and come to the U.S.
These horrors are nothing new.
The Biden administration knows what comes next if everyone turns their backs on Afghanistan. Without the tremendous and unified efforts of many, what comes next is the unthinkable. Genocide, just like we saw in Iraq after the Obama-Biden administration abandoned our friends there.
And the drone strike? It’s been nearly a decade since I first wrote about the Obama-Biden policy of drone warfare, which took the lives of hundreds of civilians, including at least 178 children, in Pakistan and Yemen.
Reordering the World
We can complain all we want about the ideology of neoliberals and neoconservatives. But a key ingredient in their designs is the apathy of people like you and me. Citizens who know the truth about the human person, who know we are members of a representative republic, and know we can influence and reorder the world around us. But we choose not to.
The abuses we’re seeing are offenses against the people of Afghanistan. But they also represent an offense against the true heritage of the American people.
Our foreign policy has denied our founding principle:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
When we engage in foreign entanglements, we cannot forget what our nation’s fundamental ethos claims about all mankind. With foreign entanglements comes a responsibility to acknowledge the dignity of those we become entangled with … the same dignity the people of America possess.
When I founded my organization 20 years ago, I wrote this vision statement:
“A civilization that venerates the dignity, beauty and worth of the human person from the first movement of life to natural death and spiritedly defends life at every level of governance, from that of the smallest village to alliances and agreements among sovereign nations.”
That came to me after reading books like Dr. R.J. Rummel’s Death by Government as an undergraduate at the University of Hawaii. They taught me something sobering: the genocides and democides of the 20th Century were bound to happen again. Unless, that is, people like you and I worked hard to reorder our world around the dignity of the human person — especially the vulnerable, wherever and whenever they are at their most vulnerable moment.
It was that same realization that motivated me to write with John Zmirak the book The Race to Save Our Century.
And here we are.
We’re losing the race. And it’s time to pick up the pace.
Jason Jones is a senior contributor to The Stream. He is a film producer, author, activist and human rights worker.