The secretary of defense Lloyd Austin, the chair of the joint chiefs of staff of the US military general Mark Milley, and the head of the US Central Command general Frank McKenzie have all been trying to explain the reasons for the debacle in Afghanistan, not just the final chaotic withdrawal but the failure of the entire two-decade long nation building enterprise and the inability to defeat the Taliban despite pouring vast amounts of money into the Afghan military and providing all manner of material, training, and air support. When the USSR was the occupier of that country, the US government was providing covert support to the then-Mujahideen to undermine the Soviet-backed government but there is no evidence that any outside power, Russia or any other country, was providing anything like significant support for the Taliban in its fight against the US.
So now what? The American public had long been weary of the Afghan military involvement, which is likely why Donald Trump and Joe Biden decided to end it. But while Trump bowed to his military at the last minute and did not pull out all the troops as he had wanted to, Biden went ahead and did it, despite the advice he got from them to keep some there.
There is no question that this defeat will result in the American public being wary of any new wars, at least for a while. This will be a major problem for the military-industrial-warmongering class that depends on perpetual wars in order to keep the gusher of money flowing their way. I have not seen the term used as yet, but we can call the current feeling of the American public to oppose new wars the ‘Afghanistan syndrome’, in analogy to the ‘Vietnam syndrome’ that followed the ignominious defeat of the US military in that country. Older readers may recall that at that time, the warmongers were fretting about their inability to wield American military might as and when they wanted to. They feel that the US needs to periodically have a massive display of its military force to show the world who is the boss.
They managed to overcome the Vietnam syndrome by creating easy military wins by invading much smaller countries. Remember Grenada? The US invaded this tiny country of about 135 square miles and population of 110,000 in 1983, with then-president Ronald Reagan expressing his concern that Cuba was aiding that country’s government in building an airstrip, presumably to threaten the US by using it to aid left-wing governments in the region. The utter preposterousness of this claim did not prevent the US from invading that country to much acclaim. The pliant media of course went along. The US awarded more medals for that operation than the number of soldiers who actually took part in it, many who were in the US or remained offshore during the entire time. The next stage in combating the Vietnam syndrome was the invasion of a larger country in Panama in 1990 that lasted a month and resulted in the capture of its then leader Manuel Noriega.
Having made the US public feel good about going to war again, they then invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, with disastrous results.
So the question now is: Which hapless small country or countries is going to be targeted to once again provide the US military with easy victories in order to remove the taste of defeat from the public’s mouths? Which small country is going to serve as the next Grenada to overcome the Afghanistan syndrome?
Luxembourg? Nah. Right size but too white. The US government will probably choose another small country with people of color that most Americans have never heard of, so that they will believe the cock-and-bull story that is made up to justify the invasion.
Or maybe they will simply invade Grenada again, since it worked so well for them the last time.