Mark Steyn on the follies of America’s half-hearted nation-building; a process wussified by political correctness, unlike the culturally confident American liberals of the post-WWII era:
Scrolling down through the back-and-forth today re Charles Krauthammer and “nation-building”, I incline more to Andy than Derb, but would like to offer a slightly different angle: Even if one were in favor of “nation-building”, there is nothing to be said for half-hearted, desultory “nation-building”, which is what America has been doing, at great cost in blood and treasure, for almost a decade now. What do we have to show for a ten-year occupation in the Hindu Kush? Christians on death row for converting from Islam? Taxpayer-funded Viagra to help elderly village headmen rape their child brides?
Okay, those are tough cultural nuts to crack, so how about some less contentious transformative infrastructure upgrades? A few years ago, I read a column in The East African by Charles Onyango-Obbo, musing on the recent occupation of the Congo:
While colonialism is bad, the coloniser who arrives by plane, vehicle, or ship is better — because he will have to build an airport, road, or harbour — than the one who, like the Ugandan army, arrived and withdrew from most of eastern Congo on foot.
Where are the roads in Afghanistan? When we eventually “withdraw”, after a decade, there will be, within 20 minutes, barely any discernible trace that we were ever there. Nine years ago, Thomas Friedman, deploying his preferred pop culture analogy, put it this way:
For all the talk about the vaunted Afghan fighters, this was a war between the Jetsons and the Flintstones — and the Jetsons won and the Flintstones know it.
But, as I said a year ago, the Flintstones didn’t know it, so they went back to the cave, bided their time, and now the Jetsons can’t wait to negotiate the hell outta there – and, when we’re gone, the landscape will show no sign the Jetsons ever landed.
Ironically, right around the time the Jetsons and Flintstones were first airing on American TV in the early 1960s, Afghanistan — or at least carefully selected and photographed bits of it — looked far more modern, not to mention western, than it does now.