OPINION From FRNJ Extra
By Rann Miller | AC JosepH Media Guest Blogger
I’ve heard that phrase said during conversations with respect to the Trump presidency and the reduced voter turnout of Black people Upon Donald Trump’s election to the presidency, chaos ensued. It started with imposing a Muslim ban and it ended with a lackadaisical, if not outright intentionally negligent, approach to “addressing” the Coronavirus Pandemic.
I’ve writtenabout why Black folks didn’t “show up” in 2016 as they did previously and how to best engage them, so I won’t relitigate that here. Also, Black women, like Stacey Abrams, LaTosha Brown, and DeJuana Thompson have shown how you win elections… by shifting the focus away from disaffected white voters and onto non-registered among Blacks, Latino/as and Indigenous communities.
I am not sure if Democrats are listening, but I digress.
But I want to focus on the phrase elections have consequences; it certainly rings true concerning the events over the past week.
I remember walking into my U.S. History class on the morning of November 8, 2000. My teacher had CNN on the television. She pretty much canceled class so we could watch the history that was happening in real time. My friends and I expressed our concern as a running joke, that Republicans would steal the election for George Bush and such a decision would send the nation into a tailspin.
… out of the mouths of babes.
After George W. Bush was “elected,” the Twin Towers were bombed in a terrorist attack and almost immediately, the Bush Administration invaded Afghanistan to find Osama bin Laden, who was said to be under the protection of the Taliban.
To be fair, most Americans approved of the invasion. But it is also true that the Bush Administration, in the aftermath of 9/11, took advantage of, if not outright perpetuated, the propaganda that America was exceptional. Such ideas made policies, like government surveillance of its citizens, acceptable – which is why many Americans approved the idea of creating a democracy from scratch in a part of the world thousands of years old.
Clearly, the United States ain’t that damn exceptional.
Many Americans seem to believe that our way of doing things, our systems of government and politics, economics, law, punishment, etc., is the best way. However, the reality is that white supremacy continues to harm people of color both at home and abroad. The case of Afghanistan was about civilizing a “wayward” people to establish an “ally” For both their stability and our own.
How stable do things look right now?
Afghanistan is where it is due to our lack of respect for their history, which dates back centuries. A state department official said in an interview that, “Our policy was to create a strong central government which was idiotic because Afghanistan does not have a history of a strong central government.”
The American way isn’t a thousand-year-old brand, it’s a centuries old brand which has displayed as much pain for some as it has profit for others.
To secure whatever any attempts of progress, government officials facilitated corruption. According to interviews, the CIA gave cash to warlords, governors, parliamentarians, even religious leaders to purchase loyalty and information.
President Biden spoke about the exorbitant amounts of money spent in Afghanistan; a good portion of it went to corrupt Afghan officials as well as criminal syndicates. The rationale: “[Use} the bad guys to get the badder guys. We [thought we] could circle back and get the bad guys later, only we never did.”
Details of exactly how much money… warlords pocketed from the United States remain secret, but confidential documents show the payouts were discussed at the highest levels of government. This was all under the watch of the Bush Administration, as the Administration stressed to citizens that progress was being made.
According to the Washington Post, in public, U.S. officials insisted they had no tolerance for graft, yet those same officials admitted the U.S. government looked the other way while Afghan power brokers — allies of Washington — plundered with impunity. This sounds very similar to other nations in within the American sphere of influence, like Haiti, where the U.S. backed a corrupt leader because of their “friendly” posture towards the agenda of Washington.
Meanwhile, a popular narrative is that the nation and people of Haiti, like Afghanistan, are uncivilized and in need of our assistance.
President Biden said, “American troops cannot — and should not — be fighting in a war, and dying in a war, that the Afghans are not willing to fight for themselves.... We gave them every chance to determine their own future. What we could not provide them was the will to fight for that future.”
Some blame can be placed at the feet of the Trump and Obama Administrations for the Afghanistan debacle. Some will even foolishly say that what happened in Afghanistan is our fault.
Make no mistake, the Bush Administration bears the brunt of the blame for Afghanistan.
They entered the country without a plan and left Washington without any progress. They thought they could snuff out Osama bin Ladan while “enlightening” the Afghan people to the American way of doing things – and enriching corporations because we’re all capitalists, right?
Meanwhile, all the Taliban had to do was, as the ancestors and elders say, watch and pray. Now, the Taliban regained control, there’s a humanitarian crisis and the United States looks like a mess of miscalculations.
Let this be the lesson to Joe Biden and Democrats as they miscalculate saving the filibuster and Republicans steal voting rights from Black people. Indeed, elections do have consequences… and so does cheating to win them.
Bio: Rann Miller directs the 21st Century Community Learning Center, a federally funded after-school program located in southern New Jersey. He spent years teaching in charter schools in Camden, New Jersey. He is the creator, writer, and editor of the Official Urban Education Mixtape Blog. Follow him on Twitter: @UrbanEdDJ.
QUESTION: Should African American votes be held somewhat responsible for what is happening in Afghanistan? Why or Why not? Respond in the comments section.
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