Afghanistan: The Big Nothing

The stock market is sure acting like this is of no consequence, and predictions of this being the undoing of the US hegemony so far have been wrong or premature. The fall of Saigon only saw America become bigger and more powerful than ever in the decades following. America’s dominance is more cultural , economic, and militaristic (in terms of going after specific targets, such as Qasem Soleimani or Bin Laden, than occupying a country). Rather than shaping regimes, the US shapes values by exporting its culture all over the world. Japan has been completely isolationist for 70 years yet has reserve currency status, owing to it’s economic and political stability, not military might. Great Britain lost its empire, not because of decolonization, but because it fell behind the US in terms of innovation, having lagged and ability to export its culture and technology.

The occupation of Afghanistan cost $2 trillion, but it was spread out over 2 decades; by compassion the Covid stimulus programs were compressed into just a year and cost at least $5 trillion(!). We’re in an era in which the US government spending a trillion on a whim has become an afterthought. Income taxes have not budged in spite of such proliferate spending, and inflation is only up a little (mostly concentrated in transportation due to surging energy prices). It’s not a ‘tax’ on the public either as the media says. Simply buying and holding the S&P 500 or Nasdaq would have hedged all inflation, with 20% gains on top of that. Pundits logically assume actions have predictable consequences borne out by history: that empires that spread themselves too thin or take on too much debt fall, but the US has continued to defy what seems to be the most obvious outcome.

Yes,the situation is mess but I don’t think it’s as pivotal or as big of a deal as the media is making it out to be. Whether it’s Covid or this, the hype-driven, always-wrong media is always trying to tell ‘us’ what is important, what to be outraged about, etc; the stock market does not care, CEOs don’t care..everyone who is a major stakeholder in someway in the success of the country is not losing sleep over this. Afghanistan falling is not going to stop people from logging into Facebook, from buying homes, from shopping on Amazon or Shopify, from clicking Google ads, or buying Teslas.

Does this hurt Biden? Maybe, but if Biden is loses, it will be because of the economy suddenly crashing (which I don’t believe it will), not this. If the fall of Afghanistan is not a ratings loser–and given the muted reaction by the stock market and much of the general public, I suspect it is — likely the media will give it significantly less attention than it is now, pending some major disaster. Presidents tend to be pretty resilient; incumbents tend to win, the last three times they didn’t the economy likely played a role instead of foreign policy. George Bush had major foreign policy success during the Gulf War but still lost.

1 comment

  1. Interesting article and certainly correct that Afghanistan is a blip but I would say that the US lost the cultural war too. It tried to export feminism, human rights, individualism, materialism, etc., the whole modernist liberal bandwagon, and all of it is now being chewed up and spit out.

    Modern liberalism rolled over Christianity but is having a very different experience with Islam. Whether or not this shakes faith in modernism at the center will probably hinge, as usual, on economic and military power projection, which puts the West head and shoulders above the rest.

    However, isn’t Covid far more dangerous to modern liberalism? It is dovetailing with the obsession over “safe spaces.” There are big battles shaping up over vaccinations, masking, use of public and private space and how far the “experts” and bureaucrats can escalate control. At some point people might give up on the idea of making any group feel “safe.”

    Certainly, there is a crack in faith when liberals see their leaders at various social functions maskless. Then, you have the ongoing variants and boosters, antibiotics, and other wonder drugs that are being trotted out to a growing fatigue. What happens when there are no safe spaces to be found and instead of blaming all their failures on haterbigotracists the enemy is this mysterious vapor that mocks and sneers at any so-called safe space? The virus of racism and sexism can be rooted out by shaming, censoring and even courts of law but this other virus is another matter entirely.

    What happens if “influencers” start to say the hell with your stinkin’ vaccines and masks and break out into totally unsafe ATTITUDES and then don’t drop dead? Instead, they will look really cool. Won’t they become heretics? Either that or the regime has to back down on safe spaces actually existing and that they can be protected by authority. And so, the bright shining aura surrounding safe space begins to fade.

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