The 20-year war in Afghanistan is over, but in America, where brutality is the stuff of primetime television, where music is filled with the language of murder, we’ll be in another war soon enough.
I know this because the hearts of our leaders are bound by greed. That’s why we had no problem spending $2 trillion to kill people in Afghanistan and Iraq, but face a pitched political battle to spend $3.5 trillion to build the social safety net at home.
It’s ironic, really. Joe Biden, the president who rightly ended this mess by bringing this war to an end, will probably pay the biggest political price for doing so because many Americans believe it is more important to conquer nations than to conquer poverty, or inequality, or injustice, or racism.
That’s not how Biden explained it when he spoke to the American people last month, though. “Our mission in Afghanistan was never supposed to have been nation-building,” Biden said. “It was never supposed to be creating a unified, centralized democracy. Our only vital national interest in Afghanistan remains today what it has always been: preventing a terrorist attack on American homeland.”
Perhaps that’s true. But it’s also true that the biggest domestic terror threat we currently face is the danger posed by violent white nationalists who target Black and brown people right here on American soil.
I suspect we could stop that threat for a fraction of the cost of the Afghan war. However, putting American treasure behind the battle against racism would mean refocusing our efforts, taking a long look in the mirror, and gathering the courage to change our hearts— and I don’t know if we’re ready to make that change.
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Photo: Joe Biden By. Prachatai