Lessons On Democracy From Afghanistan And It’s Not Joe Biden’s Fault

For readers who find this blog post article months or years from now, I am writing this in August of 2021. The last of the U.S. Military troops occupying Afghanistan returned to the U.S. during the end of July 2021. Following this withdrawal, within a few weeks the Taliban militias had entered and taken control of every city and town in Afghanistan, including the capitol Kabul.

At this time, U.S. citizens are currently expressing outrage that the U.S. Government and the U.S. Military have spent the past twenty years and billions of dollars creating a Democracy in Afghanistan with elected mayors, governors, and president, and training the Afghan Police and Military to be able to maintain control of their own country. Yet it only took the Taliban three weeks to completely take over the entire country, with the Afghan President, police, and military almost immediately giving up and fleeing.

If you stand back and look at this, every single thing about the Afghan people indicates that this would happen. If you consider the history, beliefs, religion, culture, education, values, morals, goals, opportunities, their way of living, attitudes, and outlook, freedom and Democracy is foreign to them, it is not that important or fundamental to them.

I will explain it like this, in Afghanistan, the people who participated in the Democratic government, police, and military that was established with the help of the United States, these people were being counted on to resist the Taliban and Al Qaeda. In the U.S., we would expect these people to be willing to fight the Taliban and Al Qaeda. But in fighting the Taliban and Al Qaeda, it was not just their own personal life at risk when fighting the take-over. The Taliban and Al Qaeda would find their family and kill their wife, children, parents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins. Kill them not just for retaliation because they were so-called “traitors” or “infidels”, but because of the psychological deterrent affect on police and military personnel, knowing that their entire family will be tortured and killed if they fought against the Taliban.

Democracy, freedom, rights, a constitution, elections, education are nice ideas that appealed to maybe up to 75% of the people in Afghanistan. However, in this recent battle that played out, the 15%-25% of Afghanis that were absolutely certain that they would shoot, kill, torture, burn, hang, and cut the heads off the other 75% of Afghanis, their certainty and their determination in their beliefs was apparently much greater than the vaguely held ideas of Democracy, freedom, rights, etcetera.

Do you see what I am saying? In Afghanistan, the belief in shooting, killing, torturing, burning, and beheading entire families that is held strongly by a brutal minority, outweighs the vaguely held weak beliefs of Democracy held by a passive non-committal majority.

Do I need to explain that this is not President Joe Biden’s fault? Whenever the draw-down of U.S. troops in Afghanistan reached a low enough level, no matter who the U.S. President was at the time, the Taliban and Al Qaeda would begin taking control of cities and towns.

What I learned from this, is how weak and fragile Democracy is. Free elections, fair elections, a government consisting of elected representatives, a constitution spelling out individual rights, a court system where a person is innocent until proven guilty, has the right to legal representation, right to due process of law, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, right to assemble, right to protest, all persons considered to be equal, these are all good ideas and principles to have in place. However, in this environment of freedom where people have an expectation of fairness from others, it is so easy for people to be coerced by just a small minority of organized people who are determined to be brutal and criminal.

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