Afghanistan

 

People don’t care.

At best it’s a high-grossing film with hugely declining numbers after opening weekend that never plays on pay cable or a streaming service, that you can seek out if you want to but most people don’t make the effort.

This is radically different from Vietnam. I remember watching the exit on television in a world where I never watched television, because there, but by the grace of God, went I.

The draft. You could get your ass shot off in a futile war. Why?

That was the difference. You hit eighteen and you were at risk. All those wankers worried about vaccine cards/databases are babies compared with those of us who had to register for the draft. You couldn’t escape. If you were eighteen, they found you. Oh, you could go to Canada, but that was back before most of us had been there and realized how great it was. You were scared.

So, in Vietnam, we were holding back Communism. There was even a name for it, the “Domino Theory.” If we didn’t fight in Vietnam, many more countries would fall to Communism and…

Yes, Communism was the bogeyman back then. We’d seen Khrushchev bang his shoe. We’d seen the wall go up in Berlin. There was the space race. It was us versus them.

And then Reagan solved the problem. WHAT?

Any student of Communism knows that it fell from within, that Reagan had almost nothing to do with it. Just like it’s not really Biden’s responsibility that Afghanistan fell to the Taliban, it was going to happen, it was just a matter of when we pulled out. In the west we were worried about religious governments and the mistreatment of women, then again, many in the U.S. are auguring for religious government and are involved in the personal health of women while they refuse to be inoculated against a pandemic. Don’t try to employ logic, it doesn’t apply.

So what was the enemy in Afghanistan? TERRORISM!

Then again, as soon as we invaded, the brass exited for Pakistan.

Then again, the focus was on Iraq, even though Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11. And you wonder why people don’t trust the government.

If you’d lived through Vietnam, you were against the incursion into Iraq. I wrote so, I was against it, check it out.

But America had changed. As a result of the Iranian hostage situation at the end of Carter’s term. Now, it was all about aggression. Which isn’t hard to believe if you listened to the music. The sixties were about peace and love, FM was unformatted, for hipsters, for explorers. But by time we hit the end of the seventies, we had years of formatted aggressive and meat and potatoes rock on FM in every hamlet and burg and this was the music that fed the yahooism of those who never had to face the draft, the bullies who hadn’t been anywhere and thought the U.S. was the indomitable greatest country in the world without flaws.

And then it got worse.

Reagan’s legacy is really income inequality. Maybe that will be pointed out in generations to come, after his anointment as a saint fades in the rearview mirror. Reagan lowered taxes on the rich and suddenly it was open season, everybody who was about love one another in the sixties was about getting theirs in the eighties. And Clinton just supercharged the whole thing and appeased the right along the way, eviscerating welfare benefits. Now we were not all in it together, now there were the workers and the lazy, the givers and the takers, the rich and the poor, and if you weren’t a winner you were a loser, and denigrated by society.

And then came the internet. And suddenly billionaires were everywhere. They weren’t just bankers. And along came social media, which put us all in our own hole with our own influences/news. And politics was no longer about making the sausage, but digging in your heels and fighting the other guy, in the case of the Republicans the leaders literally said they wanted to make sure Obama, and now Biden, got none of their ideas passed into law. This way, they could solidify their base like a high school basketball crowd and then…

The crowd took over the asylum. Suddenly, the rich on the right were no longer in control, but the rank and file, who used to be Democrats, but were ignored by the technocrats when globalization came a-calling. And people were pissed. And the Democrats missed it, the Republicans harnessed it, and then realized their traditional values of the unrestricted marketplace run by the elite no longer worked. Turned out the underclass on the right wanted health care just like the left. So what we’ve got now is a bunch of bloviating elected officials playing to a theoretical base whilst hurting their constituents at the same time. This is DeSantis, this is Abbott. In what other world does the government INSIST on not protecting its people? INSIST on a free-for-all? All in the name of freedom, when the truth is that term used to mean something back in the days of Communism, but now most of Europe is freer than the U.S. and the Taliban may require burkas, but it’s an endless culture war in the U.S., we argue whether bakers have to bake cakes for gay weddings. Do people really care about this? No! But these are touchpoints elected officials believe will rile their base.

Like Benghazi. Quick, ask a Republican to find Benghazi on a map. Quick, ask ANYBODY in the U.S. to find Benghazi on a map! Almost no one can, because they just don’t care, it was really a fight about Hillary Clinton, not the people who died over there.

So, the nature of our country has changed, yet the boomers running the nation think it’s still the same. That we’re horrified, absolutely horrified I tell you, that the Taliban overran Afghanistan in a matter of days and Afghans were crowding the airport. Cool pictures, but what does that have to do with me, the average American citizen? Our airports are in chaos. We’re fighting over masks on airplanes, duct-taping passengers to their seats, we don’t even know how to fight for our own lives. And when we’re confronted with the option to do so, to save ourselves, an incredible swath of the nation says no, we’ll go unvaxxed and unmasked, screw collateral damage, we need our freedom! It’s positively tribal, in many ways no different from Afghanistan!

And the Afghan president was powerless and the Mujahideen were braggarts without portfolio, never mind desire, and the Taliban walked back into power. Not radically different from the Republican takeover of 2016. How come we all assume tech will change constantly but not politics, not the temperature of our country? Then again, elected officials might have heard of TikTok, but they’ve never used it, and if you don’t think the youth have the power you don’t understand the power of technology, its ability to rally and change minds. In many cases with disinformation.

So, it took twenty years to lose. Not that the outcome wasn’t sealed when we started. The movie had played before, with the Russians, who spent almost a decade in Afghanistan and left with their tails between their legs, having accomplished nothing. Why did America think it was different? It never even asked that question. I just thought it was so powerful it could win anywhere. And it took twenty years for the nation to wake up and realize this was not true.

If you want something not to break, don’t buy American. They keep telling us manufacturing should come back, but even our iPhones are made in Asia.

I’d never ever buy an American car. Except maybe a Tesla. But even that has me hesitating, because of their poor build quality.

You see Americans are all about lifestyle, they don’t want to work too hard, and why should you, when you can’t get ahead when you can’t win when unions have been eviscerated and Jeff Bezos jets into space on the money he made off the backs of overworked warehouse employees? Check the numbers, Amazon is soon to become the biggest employer in America. And sure, that’s Bezos’s money, legally, but why weren’t there higher taxes? And most Americans aren’t even invested in the Wall Street game.

It’s rigged.

So now we’ve got talking heads who were arguing about the culture wars yesterday opining about Afghanistan today. The game is bigger than the players. As in the subject is irrelevant, it’s just about the endless arguing. And Lorraine Ali, an old rock critic who has become a TV critic for the “Los Angeles Times,” has it right when she says these “news” outlets have nobody on the ground in Afghanistan, these far-flung places, so there hasn’t been a continuous flow of news and the truth is all these stations quote the “New York Times,” which everybody seems to hate because it’s self-flagellating in public, trying to work out its woke issues in the light of day when every other outlet has an iron curtain and doesn’t buy into the right-wing b.s. Yes, the right-wing outlets are telling us Trump won… The MyPillow guy has gotten much more coverage than anything happening in Afghanistan, check it out.

Lorraine Ali: “American TV ignored Afghanistan. Until parachuting in to watch it fall”: https://lat.ms/3mafPG5

So, this week the spotlight shined on Afghanistan. Assuming you paid attention, and the truth is most people don’t, check the TV news ratings, they’re minuscule, it was horrifying. But most people probably saw a headline online and then moved on. As for evaluating what this means for America at large? People have lost the power to think. Schools are so worried kids might learn about slavery, or something triggering, that they don’t teach students how to analyze, sift the truth from the dross. People are literally INCAPABLE of doing this. So it’s all emotion, all the time. And emotion can’t compete with facts. Then again, we learned in the last administration that facts are fungible, Kellyanne Conway literally told us that, and now the truth is literally up for grabs.

So, Afghanistan is really far away. Many Americans hate Muslims in principle. People are hurting so much that they want to take care of America first, instead of spending trillions overseas. As for the long-term impact…well, get in line, behind climate change and so much more. The young care about the future, but the old are too busy balancing the interests of fossil fuel providers, weighing business consequences, while America continues to drift, like a sailboat with a luffing sail.

Meanwhile, the Delta variant is raging and businesses are getting hurt (that’s a fact, you can read it in the “Wall Street Journal”) and despite tight Covid restrictions California’s economy hummed and the state’s coffers are loaded with dough and…

If you can make sense of it you’re spending a lot of time paying attention.

But most people don’t have either the time or the inclination. Their priority is not Afghanistan, it’s not the news, and since the news became entertainment, and we all know it, why should we take it seriously now?

But if you were at home, eighteen years old, worried about being shipped overseas to a place no one you’ve ever known has been to, and risk getting your ass shot off in a futile war, you’d be very concerned. You’d actually be happy the U.S. pulled out. Because it would mean you were saved. Also, you’d be questioning these foreign incursions. All in the name of humanity, your own safety. But ever since the all-volunteer army came into being politicians send our youth overseas to be killed willy-nilly and…

The rest of the populace just say they volunteered for it.

But the truth is so many of them had no other option. They needed the money. Or they saw no viable future. Come on, without a college degree it’s almost impossible to get ahead in America. One can say that the army is college for the underclass. They learn discipline, a trade, and hopefully, this will pay dividends when they come back to the mainland. But that’s quite a risk, one the average American DOESN’T WANT TO TAKE!

So the truth is we’ve got no investment in Afghanistan, almost none whatsoever, except for the troops who fought and died over there for nothing, just like they did in Vietnam, and sure, we’ll get some movies down the line, but that won’t replace your legs, never mind your life.

Then again Americans don’t even want to protect their own lives, they’d rather play Russian Roulette, go unvaccinated believing that they won’t get the Delta variant, and end up on a ventilator and possibly die. Yes, you see the losers of this game in the news every damn day and the unvaccinated don’t care, do you think they really care about Afghanistan?

We shouldn’t have been there, certainly not for this long. But people are so afraid of TERRORISM!

But the real terrorism, cyber-crime, goes unaddressed. Ergo the constant compromise of government computers, never mind cases of ransomware. But we’re still busy building infrastructure for a ground war that will never happen while our own infrastructure can’t be fixed. Yes, read about the trillions spent in Afghanistan basically for nothing, and then think about the pothole that ripped apart your tire and bent your rim. And you wonder why people are angry. We need to focus more from the bottom up as opposed to the top-down. We’ve got to educate, inform and take care of the disadvantaged. We’ve got to give them the opportunity. But we can’t because we’re in the midst of a tribal war.

As for the Afghanistan pullout causing a hit to our international reputation…the truth is America has fallen in the eyes of the rest of the world already. Just go somewhere and listen. But no, better to be an ostrich believing a fantasy until it’s all over.

Now don’t lay that America, love it or leave it, b.s. on me. Of course, there are great things in the U.S. And sure, people clamor to come here, but not everybody. Because it’s pretty damn good in many countries. And the real reason people come to America is economic opportunity, which we quash at every turn, making sure the poor stay that way and the rich lord over them.

Used to be we could count on artists to lay down the truth. Yes, musicians told us the Vietnam War was a bogus effort with huge costs. But today the headlines in music are about brand extension and wealth. It’s a little different from wrestling. And the movies are about fictional superheroes, there’s literally no truth there. There’s a vacuum of truth and honesty but it’s very clear why that’s so because…IT DOESN’T PAY! And life is tough, and unlike in the sixties and seventies, you can’t survive on minimum wage.

So, this Afghanistan story will blow over, and it won’t have legs, except for politicians trotting it out as denigration of Biden, without talking about Bush II and Cheney getting us into this mess, never mind Obama and Trump continuing it. We’ve got the blame game. Hoping you’ll vote for the “innocent,” assuming you can vote at all. That’s right, in today’s America not only can you not make it economically, you can’t even vote.

So keep telling us how bad it is in Afghanistan, how poorly it was handled. If you want us to slow down and look can you at least have some nudity, some TikTok clips, have some fan fiction about a superhero coming in to save the day? Because otherwise…WE’RE NOT INTERESTED!

~~~

Visit the archive:

Listen to the podcast:

@Lefsetz

Subscribe to the LefsetzLetter

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Read this next.

Posted Under