Societies and cultures, and even religions, take their own course of time to evolve. Afghanistan gave refuge to somebody who was responsible for an atrocity against us and we had to take that specific person down, but I don’t know when we started to think that war and military presence can change a society. Culture is in our DNA and it creates the ecosystem we call society. Culture is part of our psyche and is often more powerful than religion. That is why culture adopts religion and not the other way round. That is why we see different expressions of the same religion in different parts of the world.
The values of another culture, whether they seem to us medieval or primitive, cannot be changed by imparting our own values to it. We may sustain for a while but the essence of that culture would take over society sooner or later. Afghanistan and Iraq are the best examples in this regard.
I feel for all the women and children who found relief under our presence. I also feel for the young men and women who have never lived under Taliban rule. They now live in terror. I empathize with them not only because the Taliban insists on an archaic way of living, but also because we gave these Afghanis an illusion. We exposed them to a different way of life. We made them comfortable and at ease in this somewhat modern way of living under the umbrella of our military machine. Now, when we are no longer there, the harsh reality of Taliban rule is impacting their lives, and many don’t have tools to cope. If they have not been able to escape that society, then their lives are crushed and they will live in perpetual coercion and betrayal. They will either wear a new garb and pretend to be part of the ruling group or be crushed by the Taliban. And if they do survive, they will live in fear with a never-ending PTSD, and probably with many other psychological problems. It will particularly affect women and children.
All the signs show that several U.S administrations knew a long time ago that we wouldn’t win this war. Then why did they continue to stay in Afghanistan? Well, many respond that the war has kept us safe and nothing major has happened after 9/11. Perhaps. But at what cost? And is this going to be our way of life? Perpetual wars to keep terrorists away from our soil? Isn’t it very expensive and tiring? Is there a different way? One less cumbersome and less destructive to us and to other nations? Our enemies are often a few individuals in a nation not a whole nation. If we can’t punish people based on race, sexual preference, and how they worship, then we cannot punish people just because they belong to the nation of the individuals who attacked us. Our moral values should show who we are and what we aspire to become.