Afghanistan is a wreck. For anyone who has been paying attention for the past generation, this should come as absolutely no surprise. What should come as a surprise is the fact precious few have learned the message from this painful exercise: massive government intervention doesn’t work.
After sinking a staggering one trillion dollars (cue Mini Me pinkie to mouth) into the Afghani operation, as well as sacrificing thousands of U.S. soldiers on the altar of its success (to speak nothing of the legions of Afghanis who have perished on all sides), you would expect to see some kind of positive result. Instead, the war-torn backwater shows every sign of still suffering. What few economic gains have been made are steadily crumbling, while over 40,000 refugees pour out of the country. Security forces scramble to attempt to recapture Kunduz, a loss unprecedented during the entire course of the Afghan war. The struggle against the opium trade, which alone has cost the U.S. over $7 billion, shows no signs of progress.
Not trying to be a downer here. The people of Afghanistan faced enough problems before a climactic war ripped their country apart. What we should learn from this tragedy, lest we repeat it, is that it’s impossible to “fix” a country through government intervention. The finances of the most powerful nation on Earth poured into a poor, struggling country made no difference. Meanwhile, big government is touted as a solution to all manner of domestic ills, from education, firearms control, immigration problems, you name it. All the while, we have a test case where government tried its best and failed miserably. We have had countless such examples over the millennia, and the Mideast nation-building catastrophe is but the latest one.
Learn history, or be doomed to repeat it. In this case, though, the lesson to be learned isn’t in the past. It’s ongoing, in the form of the Afghanistan catastrophe. If we don’t learn now that massive government interventions don’t work, we might not be better off for long.
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