The Afghan Error by Howard Bloom

US, World

It was a huge mistake for President Trump to negotiate a total pullout from Afghanistan with the Taliban, and it was a huge mistake for President Biden to pull out.  

In the first twelve days of our Afghan airlift, we had evacuated 100,00 people from Afghanistan.   But there are 300,000 people in danger of execution, imprisonment, or abuse by the Taliban, according to the International Rescue Committee. These are people who desperately need to get out. The Taliban had only been in power for ten days when the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reported there had already been “harrowing” reports of summary executions of civilians and of Afghan soldiers.   

A  month ago, the Taliban  issued an order to mullahs and imams in territories it had captured to turn over a list of all girls above 15 and widows under 45 so they can be sent to a distant province, given as brides to victorious Taleban warriors, be converted to the Taliban’s punishing version of Islam, and be “reintegrated.”  In other words, be beaten down and brainwashed. And Jordan’s Al Bawaba News reports that “Taliban forces [are] accused of forcibly marrying girls as young as 12 years old [and turning them into ‘sex slaves’] as they impose their terrifying vision of Islam.“   

On top of all that,  the afghan disaster may have lost us our position as the world’s leading superpower.  Both Japan and the European Union have said they can’t rely on us to defend them anymore. 

Afghanistan is the hinge of Asia.  It shares borders with Iran, Pakistan, and three nations that Russia considers its own—Uzbekistan, Turkemnistan, and Tajikistan.  But its most important next door neighbor is China.  China and Russia have both been courting the new Taliban leaders.  China has two goals: to incorporate Afghanistan in its Belt and Road Initiative, its ultra high-tech transport corridor from Chinese Pacific Coast cities like Shanghai all the way to Spain and the Americas.  That transport corridor will make Beijing the ruler of the 21st century.  China’s second goal is to get its hands on Afghanistan’s trillions of dollars worth of rare earth metals, the raw materials needed to manufacture electric cars, solar panels, and wind turbines.

Why are so many people trying to get out of Afghanistan?  When the taliban says it will give women the freedom accorded by shariah law, that means the freedom to be married off at the age of 15 or younger, the freedom to be imprisoned in a house for the rest of your life, and the freedom to be wrapped in a walking tent, a burqa.  All of these things, says militant Islam, are ways of honoring a woman.  

When the taliban speaks of human rights, it is referring to the obligations and duties of Islam,  which it considers the only rights worth having. For example the right to be crushed to death under a toppled wall if you are homosexual, the right to have your hand chopped off if you steal, or the right to have your tongue cut out if you are accused of committing perjury.  

Hafiz Sadiqulla Hassani, a former member of the Taliban’s secret police, reported that he received the following instructions from his boss, the Taliban secret police commandant during the Taliban’s first reign over Afghanistan in the 1990s:  “You must become so notorious for bad things that when you come into an area people will tremble in their sandals. Anyone can do beatings and starve people. I want your unit to find new ways of torture so terrible that the screams will frighten even crows from their nests and if the person survives he will never again have a night’s sleep.”  

Then, during the rule of the Taliban from 1996 to 2001 there was the Taliban’s war of extermination against what it calls heretics, specifically the Hazara Shiites in Afghanistan’s northern territories.  Human Rights organizations called this murder of women and children genocide.  

The bottom line is that we have failed to see something crucial about our role in Afghanistan. Nation building is a valid project.  But it’s a multi-generational project.  

We have been in South Korea since 1945.  For the first 42 years, things were chaotic and corrupt.  But after 1987, the country became democratic.  And it went from poverty to one of the world’s richest nations. In part, because our military has been there for  76 years. 

To achieve our goals in Afghanistan, we’d have had to hang in there until the kids raised in secularism and modernism could rise to power–at least another 20 years. instead, we’ve abandoned those kids to a savage fate.



Howard Bloom has been called the Einstein, Newton, and Freud of the 21st century by Britain’s Channel 4 TV.  One of his seven books-Global Brain—was the subject of a symposium thrown by the Office of the Secretary of Defense including representatives from the State Department, the Energy Department, DARPA, IBM, and MIT.  His work has been published in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Wired, Psychology Today, and the Scientific American.  He does news commentary at 1:06 am et every Wednesday night on 545 radio stations on Coast to Coast AM.

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