Afghanistan, Ukraine and Biden

Photo by Tong Su on Unsplash

He’s been widely criticized, for having pulled out of Afghanistan as he did.

He’s been blamed for signaling to Putin that the US would not commit to long term tasks. That America was eager to isolate.

If it hadn’t been for Afghanistan, they say, there wouldn’t have been the invasion of Ukraine.

Wrong.

Biden did what other presidents before him had not been willing to do. Face reality.

Afghanistan was unwinnable.

It could not be won with neighboring Pakistan sheltering and supporting the Taliban. Previous administrations, both Republican and Democratic, had not made the choice. Demand that Pakistan cease supporting the Taliban or will not support you. And so the hunt for Osama bin Laden, the man who ordered the 9/11 attack, took much longer that it should have.

The pullout from Afghanistan was messy but not messier than from Vietnam. But it had to be done. Biden deserves credit for it.

For one reason or another, during our 20 years in Afghanistan, we failed to elicit in Afghanistanis the will to build their nation. Over 2500 Americans died in that country, alongside others from allied forces.

It was very sad to see the country’s undoing, and the difficulties they’re now enduring.

But we had to leave. For now.

Ukraine is a vastly different story. Ukrainian nationals who had left the country to live elsewhere are returning to fight for their land.

President Biden has acted vigorously to pull together the EU-US alliance and Europe has responded.

The Ukrainian people are bearing the brunt of the struggle, fighting valiantly to defend their homeland. Volodymyr Zelensky, their leader, is fully committed to the task and will not surrender.

The Ukrainian bravery has awakened Europe from the denial they were living in, the false belief that they could somehow, through trade, dissuade the brutality of Russia.

Europe had seen it before — in Hungary in 1956, in Czechoslovakia in 68, twice in Chechnya, in the 1990’s and in early 2000s, then in Georgia in 2008 — and still they held out hope that Russian leaders could be depended upon. That it would be okay to rely on them for their oil and gas, their wheat, fertilizers and valued minerals. That the moneys from such purchases wouldn’t be used to finance the massacre of a neighbor’s people.

Even one of their former chancellors, Gerhard Schroder (1998–2005), became a Putin ally, the chairman of the Russian energy company Rosneft and a proponent of the Nord Stream pipeline to supply Germany with 40% of their energy needs.

Such denial was shared by subsequent German leaders with the consent of their people.

But now the Ukrainian nation has awakened Germans and all of Europe from their stupor and so they are owed a debt of gratitude.

The struggle for Europe and the West will not be over until Russia and its vassal nations become democratic countries.

It has fallen to Ukraine to shed the heroic blood that will mark the path to follow.

And then there will be China — for many sectors in the West are still in denial of that nation’s quest for supremacy.

Oscar Valdes. Oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts

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writer and psychiatrist with an interest in current affairs

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writer and psychiatrist with an interest in current affairs

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