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The Seduction of Simple Slogans

05/18/2021

Because Afghanistan is “where empires go to to die”, most Americans are relieved that we are finally withdrawing . . . myself among them.  Twenty years is long enough.  The United States has many great strengths, but nation-building is not one of them.  Remember Somalia?

In 2019, the average age in the U.S. was 38.4 years, the highest ever.  The Israeli nation-building experiment began in 1948, seventy-three years ago.   It is almost twice as old as the average American.  Should we also withdraw from Israel?  Why is 20 years enough for Afghanistan but not Israel?

It is not merely a time problem.  There are not enough Afghan nor Muslim voters in the U.S. to prolong that conflict.  Afghanistan was a “hot” war, requiring American combat forces and American deaths the whole time.  Israeli nation-building has not been expensive in terms of American blood, compared to Afghanistan.

The ethnic divide in Israel is between Jews and Arabs (both Israeli Arab & Palestinian Arabs.)  That divide in Afghanistan is between Muslims and extremist Muslims.  Both nations are surrounded by Arab nations, but only Israel is threatened by those Arab neighbors.

There are a great many more Afghans (38.5 million) than Israelis (8.7 million).  Yet, the Israeli economy is vastly larger ($340 billion) than the Afghan economy ($19 billion).  There is economic debate of the economic costs of both Afghanistan and Israel.  Would the volatile Mideast region require such expensive military spending by the U.S. . . . if there was peace there?

The desert sands of west Texas is many times larger than Israel.  We could give them twice as much sand as they have in Israel.  If location is nothing more than dirt, we could even scrap off enough sand in Israel and load it into tankers for west Texas.

Endless talking (read: diplomacy) is better than warfare.  I get that!  What I didn’t get is . . . endless attention span!

It is difficult to distinguish between Israeli Arabs and Palestinian Arabs.  It is difficult to distinguish between Northern Ireland Protestants and Catholics.  It was difficult to distinguish between Vietnamese and Vietcong.  It was difficult to distinguish between Bosnia protestants and Muslims.  It was difficult to distinguish between the three tribes of Rwanda.

In the Army, it was convenient to argue — Kill’em all and let God sort’em out!  It was a catchy, seductive, simple-minded slogan . . . but it is still stupid!

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