From (August 2017) Trump Wants to Fire U.S. Commander in Afghanistan,
The bare-bones boiled-down essence of modern government is just a few things:
- Raise revenue by taxation.
- Use at least some of the taxes to provide services.
- Facilitate commerce.
- The services provided justify the taxes enough for popular acquiescence.
You can add all the bells and whistles. But it’s the irreducible minimum. Anything less, and it becomes a protection racket.
Afghanistan has no legitimate economy. Mullah Omar’s gang used to joke that the country couldn’t even make glass. The only trade is underground, opium, immune to civil taxes. But opium makes money for the Taliban. Indirectly, they can tax it, by shaking down the farmers.
This is the essence of the debacle. An even more compact criteria:
- A state with a history of strong government embodies possibility of restoration by foreign intervention.
- A state without a history of strong government lacks even the possibility.
Afghanistan did not have an indigenous central government until the 1747 appointment of Ahmad Shāh Durrānī. It did not resemble a modern state. It was a brief imitation of ancient empire builders, sustained by plunder.
I have grave certainty that they [Taliban] won’t uphold. This will be a slaughter of the good. The future reeks of the fall of Saigon, when our friends were falling off helicopter skids as they begged for rescue. I suspect that the slaughter of innocents bothers H.R. McMaster even more than the strategic retreat.
To remain would only delay the inevitable. Afghanistan is caught in the gyre of a primitive cultural ocean. Eventually, China, and perhaps India will, in exploitation, bring some measure of humanity.
Do I feel bad? Yes. We spent our blood and treasure unwisely. Venezuela has much better prospects for catalyzed change.
More Afghanistan articles here.