Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy

The Kabul bombings demonstrate the lie of a bloodless occupation

By Joel Mathis, The Week

The bombings at the Kabul airport on Thursday is a reminder of a fundamental truth: War is an ugly, bloody, violent affair.

That may seem self-evident, even simple. Everybody has heard the “war is hell” cliché at some point. But it bears repeating at this moment, while Americans argue furiously about the wisdom of withdrawing from Afghanistan, because so much of the argument for staying depends on a vision of the war there being essentially bloodless.

“Mr. Biden’s decision to withdraw all U.S. forces destroyed an affordable status quo that could have lasted indefinitely at a minimum cost in blood and treasure,” former Ambassador Ryan Crocker wrote last week in a lacerating essay for The New York Times.

“In the last several years, the United States has maintained a relatively small force in Afghanistan, largely devoted to providing surveillance, logistics, and air cover for Afghan forces while taking minimal casualties,” columnist Bret Stephens offered. “Any American president could have maintained this position almost indefinitely — with no prospect of defeating the Taliban but none of being routed by them, either.”

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