Nation-building is a long, evolutionary process that requires fundamental, internal, societal shifts, which can never be imposed from the outside.
Beyond the political rhetoric, the Afghanistan meltdown is quite straightforward. The facts are simple: The United States invades Afghanistan to eliminate the Taliban’s ally, Al-Qaeda, and ends up in a “nation-building” mission for 20 years.
To this end, it spends $2 trillion, with probably one-third siphoned off to the pockets of local warlords, politicians, special-interest groups, and NGOs. More than 2,370 Americans die and more than 20,000 are wounded. In less than a week, upon the onslaught of determined fighters in pickup trucks, firing mostly ancient weapons, the entire 300,000-strong U.S.-trained Afghan “army” dissipates.
Afghanistan is lost again to the Taliban, and we feel horrible for the people, especially women, who put their trust in Western powers, in particular the U.S., to protect them. But all along, an independent Afghanistan was a fantasy of U.S. intelligence and defense officials, who forgot that they were not fighting in France, but in the Middle East.
Let us focus on the impact that this debacle must be having on today’s calculus by Israeli leaders and the “peace camp,” which seem to harbor similar fantasies about the intention and focus of our enemies and erstwhile friends. I can only hope that members of the ruling coalition in Jerusalem will take a hard look at its assumptions before emerging as another administration living in a Fool’s Paradise.