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The End of an Era?

Over the last week, we've witnessed the complete collapse of the Afghan government created and sustained by the US government for most of the last two decades. It's a testament to the futility of the mission for which so many human lives, both American and Afghan, were sacrificed. And with the looming 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, there are a great many strong and mixed feelings about what we've seen occur there. In light of those feelings, it is important to remember that it never had to be this way. A month after 9/11, the Taliban offered to negotiate the extradition of Osama Bin Laden & other Al-Qaeda leaders implicated in the 9/11 attacks. The Bush administration refused to negotiate, and opted instead to go ahead with starting the longest war in American history. And still, after almost 20 years, thousand of American and hundreds of thousands of Afghan lives lost, trillions of dollars, the government that was installed there evaporated in the space of a week.

While the tragedy of the war itself has played out over almost two decades, numbing many people's reactions to it, another more visible tragedy is on the horizon as the Taliban are consolidating their power over the country. Tens of thousands of Afghans who directly aided US forces are now living under a very real threat of violent reprisal from the Taliban, and many, many more fear a return to the repressive fundamentalism that defined the Taliban's reign prior to 9/11. This is a tragedy that could and already would have been avoided if we followed a different immigration policy, consistent with the principles of individual liberty. An open immigration policy would have allowed them to be here already rather than having them trapped in the endless lines of an arbitrarily defined visa quota hell, subject to the whims of the bloated bureaucracy that enforces our immigration policy. A policy which, just like our foreign policy, is also defective. The adoption of an open immigration policy is the moral & appropriate way to avoid any humanitarian tragedy of this nature.

Now while a full departure from Afghanistan will be a good thing for the US, we should not be so naïve as to believe that this represents a change in the foreign policy that wrought this great mistake and the many horrors it spawned. The US Government today is still under the control of the same parties who started and then kept this war going for so long, lying to the American people all throughout, who continue to pursue the same defective foreign policy, and a lot must be done to get us off this path to avoid any more of these catastrophic mistakes. It has to begin with a rejection of those people and parties which continue to push for military intervention around the world while disregarding the costs, especially the human cost. It requires an unyielding commitment to peace and valuing human life.

There’s no amount of time or resources and no brilliant strategy that can achieve success based on a defective policy. For any modicum of success to come from any policy, it must be rooted in, if not at least constrained by, the principles of individual liberty and peace.

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