August 16, 2021


Even now, Washington seems completely out of touch with events on the ground in Afghanistan. Its intelligence officers said the Taliban could take Kabul within 90 days. That was four days ago. They know nothing. One gets the impression of a confused, decaying empire looking with bamboozlement upon even those parts of the earth it rules.

But above all of that, above even the political and military incoherence of the American empire, there is the corrosive cultural dynamic. This might just be the most important factor in the Afghan humiliation – the fact that the US, and the West more broadly, clearly lacks the cultural resources necessary for a clash of civilisations. This wasn’t just a territorial battle, a fight over the land of Afghanistan. It was also a cultural clash. It was a war between one side that has very strong beliefs and is more than willing to die for them, and another side that doesn’t know what it stands for anymore and would rather avoid risk and self-sacrifice if at all possible. I’ll leave you to decide which of these is the Taliban, and which the US.

This was always the West’s problem in Afghanistan: it lacked faith in the very values it claimed to be delivering to that benighted country. We will liberate women from life under the burqa, Western officials said. But isn’t it ‘Islamophobic’ to criticise the burqa, or any other Islamic practice for that matter? Our elites have insisted for years that it is. We will replace your intolerant Islamist system with a civil society fashioned by clever professors, the West promised. But isn’t it judgemental and possibly a tad racist – certainly an offence against the ideology of multiculturalism – to imply that Western democracy is superior to Islamist theocracy? As one British think-tank says, in its definition of the term ‘Islamophobia’, it is wrong to suggest that Islam is in any way ‘inferior to the West’. The West’s post-9/11 bluster was continually undermined by the West’s broader descent into moral relativism. How can you assert the civilisational authority of Western values when your entire educational and university system is devoted to questioning and demeaning Western civilisation? You cannot partake in a clash of civilisations if you loathe your own civilisation.

Anyone who thinks the Taliban did not pick up on all of this, on the Potemkin nature not only of the Afghan government but also of Western civilisation itself, is kidding themselves. The Taliban will have watched as the mighty American military became bogged down in discussions of critical race theory and the problem of ‘white rage’. They will have clocked the British army’s recruitment drive that was aimed at ‘snowflakes’ and ‘me me me millennials’ – for real – on the basis that such people have the ‘compassion’ necessary for the touchy-feely wars of the 21st century. They will know that the contemporary West is shame-faced about its history and its civilisational values and lacks ideas for how to turn its fragile youths into a fighting force, and they will understand their own life-and-death devotion to Sharia as being the opposite to all of this. They know this was a cultural clash as well as a military fight, and that they were by far the stronger side on this front.

Read the whole thing. As I wrote on September 11th, 2015:

While it’s now reached near-British levels here in America, political correctness had already started reshaping our language by September of 2001. Rather than punching back at the very moment he could reshape the culture, President Bush allowed himself to be hamstrung by the language police in the immediate wake of 9/11.

Thus, instead of being labeled as a war against radical Islam or a war against Al Qaeda and its allies, it was simply called the “Great War On Terror.” But terror is a tactic, not an enemy; as Daniel Pipes noted as early as 2002, calling such an existential struggle a “War on Terror” is like calling World War I the War on Trenches or World War II the War on Submarines. And today, PC, the attitude of “better dead than rude,” as John Derbyshire memorably wrote, also in 2002, has gotten so bad that former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson is insulting the GOP base from the pages of the Washington Post, on this of all days, noting that “Republicans’ fringe tone on Islam shows a sharp turn since 9/11.”

But that will happen when no progress appears to made against an enemy that elites won’t even name, let alone willing to conceive of any other exit strategy than “declare victory and go home” as Mr. Obama did in order to secure the 2012 election. While our mid-20th century elites were very much big government socialists in the Obama mode, in some key areas, they were made of far sterner stuff.

Or as Iowahawk noted [in 2014] at this time, and retweeted today:



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