While America now processes the wasteful spending of lives and fortunes with the kind of clarity that only comes a day late, we’re reminded of the advice Shakespeare imparted to us through Friar Lawrence: These violent delights have violent ends.
More than 3,500 coalition soldiers have died since 2001, when this bloody and misdirected saga began, and there is some kind of twisted thinking coming from pro-war America that any future occurrence can justify those deaths. Whether or not an end goal exists that could justify the nearly 100 thousand Afghan lives lost remains to be seen.
With Saigon references aplenty, they’re surprisingly few comparisons being drawn to our eerily similar exit in Iraq: American trained armies melted away; friendly groups were slaughtered; advanced weaponry quickly fell into enemy hands. There is thought to have been 184,382 and 207,156 Iraqi civilians killed by direct violence since the U.S. invasion, with some estimates showing that several times as many Iraqi civilians may have died as an indirect result of the war, due to damage to the systems that provide food, health care and clean drinking water. This is what is sometimes referred to as Nation Building.
Reasons for failure
In the United States, high school graduates wishing to enlist in the Army or Navy are required to score a 31 or higher on a standardized test called the ASVAB; the score is roughly comparable to an IQ score on the Stanford-Binet scale to a bit less than 92. The average IQ in Afghanistan is 84.
When we consider that somewhere between 30 and 60 percent of Afghan soldiers deserted the fictitious Afghan army during or after training, often bringing with them weaponry and armor to sell, we see telltale signs of low IQ in action – with failure to delay gratification and an inability to connect actions with consequences being frequent criticisms of the military candidates.
During this same time period, as Americans were dying in futility, Afghanistan’s drug use rates skyrocketed. From 2005 to 2010, the number of regular opium users jumped 53 percent. Heroin use jumped 140 percent. One of the most shocking statistics in the report is the number of parents, hovering around 50 percent, who give opium to their children.
The war on terror became a gamble on not just America’s ability to nation-build – but our ability to people build. $2.3 trillion dollars, far too many people’s lives, and a vast arsenal lost to the Taliban later, the illusions of progress and structure have been overwhelmed by inevitable chaos, like ants engulfing the corpse of a rotting worm.
If anyone thought the end of our Afghanistan occupation meant the end of bloodshed, ten civilians – including several children – were killed in a US drone strike in a residential area of Kabul this past Sunday. The tragic action begs a question: Can a country be serious about winning over the hearts and minds of a nation and indiscriminately kill children? No amount of religious fanaticism achieves what a drone attack accomplishes in terms of recruitment efforts for terrorist organizations.
We have a strangely violent society that falls deeper into debt each day, and it’s time to consider whether or not it’s a coincidence our government happens to share those values so boldly and consistently.