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Blood in the Sand

For decades, the American political class has intervened relentlessly and recklessly in countries whose people they hold in contempt. And once again they are being aided by America’s credulous mass media, which is uniformly blaming the Taliban victory on Afghanistan’s incorrigible corruption.

NEW YORK – The magnitude of the United States’ failure in Afghanistan is breathtaking. It is not a failure of Democrats or Republicans, but an abiding failure of American political culture, reflected in US policymakers’ lack of interest in understanding different societies. And it is all too typical.

Almost every modern US military intervention in the developing world has come to rot. It’s hard to think of an exception since the Korean War. In the 1960s and first half of the 1970s, the US fought in Indochina – Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia – eventually withdrawing in defeat after a decade of grotesque carnage. President Lyndon B. Johnson, a Democrat, and his successor, the Republican Richard Nixon, share the blame.

In roughly the same years, the US installed dictators throughout Latin America and parts of Africa, with disastrous consequences that lasted decades. Think of the Mobutu dictatorship in the Democratic Republic of Congo after the CIA-backed assassination of Patrice Lumumba in early 1961, or of General Augusto Pinochet’s murderous military junta in Chile after the US-backed overthrow of Salvador Allende in 1973.

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