Saturday, August 21, 2021

President Biden's Defining Moment: The Triumph of the Taliban

President Joe Biden has been a politician for over five decades without producing a single defining moment--until now. "The Triumph of the Taliban" will forever be a chapter in any history book covering military/political fiascos, alongside "The Fall of Saigon" and other ignominious events. President Biden's Afghanistan debacle will have disastrous consequences not only in the short term for those who are currently suffering persecution and murder in the grip of Taliban tyranny, but also in the long term: the United States has vindicated the predictions of her enemies that she will flee Afghanistan in disgrace, and the United States has also shown that she is not a trustworthy ally. 

The errors and missteps of previous Presidents do not change the fact that President Biden bears responsibility for this failure, and for the subsequent ripple effects--which could include attacks against American targets (very possibly on American soil) by terrorists who are given aid, comfort, and support from the Taliban. It is worth noting that Taliban leader Khairullah Khairkhwa was released from Guantanamo Bay in 2014 by President Obama against the counsel of the Pentagon, who considered Khairkhwa to be a dangerous threat. Thus, there is a direct line from President Obama's miscalculation/underestimation of the threat posed by the Taliban to the mistakes made by President Joe Biden, who of course was Vice President during the Obama administration.

As darkness descends upon Afghanistan, where are all the self-proclaimed "progressives" who love to chant antisemitic slogans while claiming to be concerned about Arab/Muslim rights? Why don't self-proclaimed "progressives" speak out on behalf of the Taliban's victims? If you are awake and honest, you know the answer, and it is the same answer that explains why the self-proclaimed "progressives" could not care less about China's persecution of the Uighur Muslims: if it does not make dollars then it does not make sense to self-proclaimed "progressives," who are focused on "activism" that puts money in their pockets. 

In Anti-Semitism Isn’t Merely Another Kind of Hate, Ruth Wisse connects the dots between left-wing ideology, antisemitism, and anti-Zionism:

Anti-Semitism is a form a of hatred, but it's more than that. People organize against the Jews as part of an ideological struggle. Scapegoating Jews for the suffering of another people provides an explanation for its misery, an outlet for its anger, and a target for its aggression...

Zionists who thought anti-Semitism was directed against them because of their dispersion were surprised to find it was even easier to blame them in their homeland. But a small people with a hugely magnified image proved the perfect foil for any anti-liberal cause. When Rep. Rashida Tlaib claims that people working "behind the curtain" to stop a "free Palestine" are "profiting" off Americans, she obviously isn't talking about Tutsis or gays.

While Israelis have no choice but to repel those who attack them, Americans and Jews prefer to ignore or justify the aggression. Progressives say: Who, us? We're anti-fascists, so how can we be Jew-baiters? Ignorant or disingenuous, they ignore that the driving force of anti-Jewish politics since 1945 has been not fascism but the Arab-Muslim war against the Jewish state, supported by Marxist ideology.

If you are a Black Lives Matter activist who chants anti-Israel slogans but says nothing about China, the Taliban, and other repressive regimes then there is no other way to put this: you are a fool and a sucker. I understand and sympathize with Black people who rightly protest past and current discrimination but--as Wisse correctly notes--scapegoating Jews (and/or Israel) for the suffering of Black people does not in any way help Black people, and in fact gives strength to ideologues who seek to repress freedom everywhere. If you assert that Israel is somehow bad but that the Taliban are not bad (or are irrelevant), then you are, as Wisse aptly put it, "ignorant or disingenuous."

All of the entertainers and rappers who accuse Israel of genocide should go to China or Afghanistan, try to protest in the streets (or even just publicly perform their songs and videos) and then see what happens. The last time the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, they converted a major sports stadium into a venue for public executions. You think that the American justice system is bad? It is far from perfect to be sure, but it beats mass public executions without a trial for anyone who allegedly violates Islamic fundamentalist laws. 

After US Withdrawal from Afghanistan, Implications for Israel Look Grimmer examines what Israel (and other countries) can learn from the rapid and tragic fall of Afghanistan:

As Israel observes the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, it's difficult to forget the capitulation of the Iraqi army to ISIS in 2014 or the EUBAM observers who fled as Hamas seized power in the Gaza Strip in 2007, not to mention visions of the United States fleeing Saigon in the spring of 1975 as part of the collapse of the Vietnam War.

Noting the coincidental, yet equal number of years separating each of the Middle Eastern incidents in which Islamic fundamentalists defeated their adversaries, Eran Lerman, vice president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, half-jokingly called it the "seven-year-itch."

"What worries me," he says, "is a much broader symbolic message that Islamist radicalism is once again on the march, the Americans have no staying power, and the West is in decline."

Lerman suggests that Israel learn lessons from the past, saying it should "band together with other countries to hold against the tide."

Referring to Israel's own concerns of Islamic fundamentalists taking over Palestinian areas besides Gaza, which Hamas already controls, Lerman says "I hope we never again hear lectures from the Americans on how you can trust Palestinian security forces to run their country and keep us safe once we leave."

Israel has long argued that a future Palestinian state left to its own devices and without Israeli oversight would easily collapse if confronted by a terrorist organization like the Islamic State (ISIS), the Taliban or Hamas.

The fall of Afghanistan only strengthens Israel's argument and, as Lerman argues, its leaders must learn the lessons here.

While that article focuses on the potential negative implications for Israel of the resurgence of the Taliban, the reality is that all Western democracies are weakened and imperiled any time Islamic fundamentalism gains momentum. The Taliban and other Islamic fundamentalists divide the world into two categories: Dar al-Islam (Abode of Islam) and Dar al-Harb (Abode of War). Islamic fundamentalists believe that all lands that are not Dar al-Islam must be captured by force. There is no possibility for peace or compromise (other than temporary, strategic peace agreements that are made to bide time for conquest, a tradition begun by Muhammad himself). 

Shortsighted people who believed that the Taliban's horrific policies and actions during the 1990s in Afghanistan were of no relevance or concern to the United States received a rude and violent wake up call on September 11, 2001. Let's hope that we will not need another mass terrorist attack to understand and confront the danger to freedom everywhere posed by the frightening gains made in recent years by Islamic fundamentalists, including the Taliban.  

President Biden ran his campaign based on his competence and his compassion. Let's hope that during the remainder of his term he displays both qualities to a greater extent than he has thus far.

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