America spent over $2 trillion dollars and killed over a quarter million people fighting the war in Afghanistan. Now that we are leaving, we have already lost 26 bases and outpost to our original enemy, the Taliban. The people who trusted us and worked with us are being murdered. The Afghani women who took our word that they would have the rights of women in modern society, are being raped and tortured and killed. The Afghani men who tried to help us and rebuild their country have been betrayed. Afghani children have no hope for the future and will have no education. The Afghan people are moving back under a nightmare religious dictatorship. Once we are completely gone, the same type of religious government that we fought to replace will be back and there will have been no changes other than America being a poorer place, countless families having been destroyed, and the world having lost respect for the United States. What a gigantic foolish waste.
The root of the problem is our misguided system for fighting wars. American academia has abandoned the scientific method in favor of selecting an idiotic set of ethical guidelines that cause far more harm than better ethical models from before. Ivory tower denizens decide the outcome they want before beginning a study or research, and discard any results that don’t support their predetermined conclusions. Our politicians and military follow these failed theorists time and again, from Vietnam to Iraq to Afghanistan.
We have a great model for how to actually approach successfully fighting foreign wars: The Romans perfected how to fight and win wars and did so with great success for a millennia. When the Romans went to war and conquered a country, they never left. They would make that country a territory of the Roman empire and give the people who live there a clear and fair path to a better life. The people of conquered countries could earn their way to citizenship in full rights through military service. The spoils of war, the land that was conquered and assets acquired, were used to pay for the war itself. In most cases everyone was better off including the people that were conquered. A great example of this is in France and Britain. Both of those countries were backwards tribes with very harmful religions that involved human sacrifice, and violent short lives. Rome conquered Britain and France and brought in modern irrigation, plumbing, systems of government, farming, and many other great improvements that allowed Britain and France to later develop into the great powers they became. The average Brit’s life vastly improved.
The Romans surely were not perfect, but their overall model is far superior to ours. Probably the biggest change I would make to their model would be to make it easier and faster for people to become citizens. I would also not allow slavery. Every major pre-industrial society in human history has had slavery, so I don’t fault the Romans for this; slavery seems to have been a necessary part of human society prior to the development of power sources other than human muscle. I think the development of capitalism and free trade has liberated humanity by giving us an alternative source of motivation to get people to work hard.
Imagine if we had approached the Afghanistan war as the Romans did. We would have gone in using total war tactics and strategy: any city or village who continued to oppose us would have been completely wiped out including non-combatants. This seems very harsh, but actually is much more compassionate as after one or two examples everyone else would have surrendered. Far fewer American soldiers and far fewer Afghan civilians would have died. No Afghan villages would have supported suicide bombers or fighters if they knew that everyone in that village would be killed for doing so.
After the country was successfully conquered, we would have auctioned off all the land and assets to the highest bidder throughout the country. There are huge benefits to this – first and most obvious is that it would more than pay for the war itself. Second, it would put all of the assets and land of the country into the hands of companies and people who would value it the most and be able to through the best job quickly rebuilding and developing it for the long term. Free markets and capitalism would do their work of quickly building Afghanistan into a modern and successful country.
The population of Afghanistan would benefit enormously as well. Instead of all of the land and resources being dominated by dictators, tribal chiefs, and religious figures, the country would be led by a meritocracy. The people with the most skills at leadership and the best engineering abilities would rise to the top. Women and children would have the full freedoms and rights enjoyed by modern societies. People could earn full American citizenship and the right to emigrate anywhere in the world by either serving in the military, or paying over $100,000 in taxes. Afghanistan would be given a path to becoming a new American state with its own constitution. The Afghan people could rely on a safe, prosperous long-term future.
America needs to get rid of its foolish politicians, lying academics, and weak military leaders. Most of all, we need to abandon our approach to war that has failed repeatedly.