Aug 21, 2021

The White Man's Burden in Kabul

Again we can see the familiar images: a sudden departure of the last Americans and panicked attempts of their helpers to flee. In Vietnam it was a conflict with communism, in Afghanistan it is a conflict with Islam. The failure in Vietnam was mainly due to the left, which sided with the enemies of the West, and the failure in Afghanistan has mainly been due to weak support from the Afghans. The main burden in the fight  against the mortal  enemies of the democratic West has always been borne by the United
States, and whatever the reasons for these clashes, it was not about imperial interests of the United States, but about defending the Western way of life. Marxist critics should be explained that Vietnam and Afghanistan were not providers of oil or other raw materials.

Conquest of Iraq

Following the successful attack on New York by Islamists in 2001, a sufficiently large target had to be set to avenge the disaster and prevent it from recurring. Of the 19 direct participants in the attack, 15 were from Saudi Arabia and their commander was an Egyptian. It was clear that the Saudi government was in panic after the attack and would consider it natural for the United States to occupy Saudi Arabia. However, conventional politicians were not courageous enough to do such a thing; they defined Saudi Arabia and Egypt as their traditional allies, and turned the US anger only against Afghanistan, where Al Qaeda operated, and against Iraq, which had not taken part in the attack but had been provoking America and the entire West for years.

It should be recalled that the failure of the US secret services in 2001 was caused by Bill Clinton and Al Gore, whose deleterious restructuring had crippled the services during their 1993-2001 terms. These politicians, whose hobbies rather included young women and global warming than Islamic terrorism, undermined America's counter-terrorism defenses. For example, the CIA ignored warning messages about young Arabs taking flying courses, focusing only on takeoff but not practicing landing.

Three weeks were enough in 2003 for the United States to conquer Baghdad and end the 24-year rule of dictator Saddam Hussein, although it took another five years to stabilize the situation in a country plagued by terror supported by neighboring states. Under the leadership of US General David Petraeus, there was a relative normalization of life for the people of Iraq, although the price was the presence of 150,000 soldiers and the death of 4,500 of them, as well as spending in the order of $ 2 trillion. After decades, the Iraqi citizens could see the despotism of their rulers be restricted, while the living standard was rising, and attempts to establish democratic elections were undertaken.

Following the inauguration of President Barack Hussein Obama in 2011, US forces withdrew from Iraq and the most radical Islamic movement in history – Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) – took control of much of Iraq. ISIS was eventually defeated, but Iraq became once again one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Has anything been left in Iraq of the US reforms?

Conquest of Afghanistan

Even before the war in Iraq, the United States launched an attack on the Islamic Taliban movement, which had controlled 90% of Afghan territory. Two weeks were enough for the United States in October 2001 to oust the Taliban from almost all positions in Afghanistan. The invasion was preceded by a civil war in which the Pakistani-created Taliban fought Afghan ethnic leaders united in the so-called Northern Alliance. The most prominent figure in the Alliance was former Secretary of Defense Ahmad Massoud; he had warned the West of possible terror attacks in New York, and he himself had been assassinated by Arab bombers two days before the September attack on the New York World Trade Centre.

In the civil war, members of Al Qaeda and tens of thousands of Pakistanis fought on the Taliban side. Thousands of civilians were massacred by the Taliban. For example, in Bamian province, Taliban fighters not only destroyed the famous Buddha statues, but also killed hundreds of women and children there; The 53-meter-high Buddha statue was blown up half a year before Al Qaeda's attack on New York. Most of the Taliban's income came from Pakistan or from the opium trade. The Bill Clinton administration was unable to take a reasonable position with the Taliban or Pakistan, and in 1997 it even tried to persuade Ahmad Massoud to surrender to the Taliban that had taken Kabul in 1996. This policy did not change until Republican President Bush took office; he had decided, even before the September attack, to act against the Taliban. However, the US relationship with Pakistan remained incomprehensibly conciliatory; when bin Laden was captured in 2011, his headquarters turned out to be just a few meters from a Pakistani military base.

After the arrival of the Americans and their allies in 2001, the situation in Afghanistan stabilized. In particular, the lives of Afghan women and girls, who have been given more education, have reportedly improved. According to the US Department of Defense, the actions between 2001 and 2019 cost around 800 billion dollars; together with spending on civilian projects and associated actions, the total costs make today about 1,000 billion. Other countries also took part, most notably Britain and Germany with $ 30 billion and $ 19 billion, respectively. The U.S. losses in Afghanistan included 2,500 killed and 20,000 wounded.

However, as the number of US troops decreased from 100,000 to 10,000 between 2012 and 2016, Taliban activity in the provinces grew, and the Afghan army was unable to face it despite the enormous costs. Building Afghan security forces cost America $ 88 billion, but according to various estimates, half of that amount has been stolen by Afghan fraudsters at all levels of their government. After the withdrawal of the Americans, it turned out that the Afghan army was a mere mirage.

Life in traditional Islamic culture is hard to bear for large segments of society. This applies especially to women who have no rights at all. Pakistani women's rights activist Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by a Taliban activist in 2012 when she was 15, could talk about it; she survived, but today she can continue her fight only in the West. How terrible the traditional life of the people of Afghanistan was, one can vividly understood from the books of Khaled Hosseini. The Taliban, that has now re-entered Kabul on August 15, will hardly make life easier for people. We now could see a CNN reporter – an American woman being modestly wrapped in traditional Islamic attire – timidly talk to a bearded Taliban fighter. What will be left in Afghanistan of the American-inspired changes?

Kipling’s "Burden of the White Man"

There may be differing views on whether the West should militarily engage in developing countries. Rudyard Kipling, born in India, supported British domination of the colonies, believing that the developed Western country would contribute to the development of backward nations. When the United States was making up its mind in 1899 whether to take control of the Philippines after defeating Spain, Kipling published the poem "The White Man's Burden," in which he described the colonization efforts as a sacrifice by Western countries to their less developed neighbors (here).

Kipling's idea is completely politically incorrect today. The colonization effort is presented in the poem as a legitimate but almost hopeless struggle of Western civilization with the chaos of savages, and Senator Benjamin Tillman in February 1899 even read the poem in the US Senate as an argument against the annexation of the Philippines. Tillman also said: “Those peoples are not suited to our institutions. They are not ready for liberty as we understand it. They do not want it.”

The poem might be perceived more metaphorically today. A "white man" might be a citizen of any developed country, and a “wild heathen" or a "savage" might be a citizen of any developing country, regardless of skin color or religion. Kipling's reference to non-European nations may seem contemptuous or overly paternalistic today, but his words still make sense. See the first three stanzas:

Take up the White Man's burden—
    Send forth the best ye breed—
Go bind your sons to exile
    To serve your captives' need;
To wait in heavy harness
    On fluttered folk and wild—
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
    Half devil and half child.

Take up the White Man's burden—
    In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
    And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
    An hundred times made plain.
To seek another's profit,
    And work another's gain.

Take up the White Man's burden—
    The savage wars of peace—
Fill full the mouth of Famine
    And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
    The end for others sought,
Watch Sloth and heathen Folly
    Bring all your hopes to nought.

Are the pirates-like warriors, carelessly massacring their citizens and childishly lying about everything, not half devils and half children? Didn't Western people die in those cruel wars not only to defend their own countries, but to improve the life in developing countries? Kipling also foresaw that all efforts could easily be wasted due to the laziness and stupidity of the savage leaders. One cannot help thinking of Kipling when seeing a bunch of gunmen entering, without a single shot, the capital of a 40 million state whose 300,000 army was trained at a huge cost and a loss of western lives.

But perhaps those thousands of American lives and thousands of billions of US dollars were not completely useless sacrifices; they may have left some seeds for future changes. The burden that the United States and its allies have taken up will hopefully inspire at least some of those people to pursue a less violent kind of government.

The question is whether savages can mature into adulthood without Western help

Kipling does not use the word “man” to emphasize gender, but to contrast the relative maturity of the West with the childhood of the developing countries. But no explanation can save this poem from erasure. Not only does the poem mention a bad color and mention only one of many sexes, but it expresses pride in the achievements of the West, for which, according to today's political correctness, we should be only ashamed.

Many Afghan men might agree that Kipling is contemptuous, but how many Afghan women would agree with Senator Tillman that they are not yet ready for European freedom and European rights? Today, however, the West can hardly help underage nations. Today's white men are not even able to defend themselves against the humanities elites at home, let alone provide humanitarian aid to women and children in foreign countries.

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