It looks like, after 20 years, America is finally calling it quits in Afghanistan.
Even many of those who were early champions of the war have developed plenty of reasons for finally wanting out of the never-ending operation. Since the death of Osama Bin Laden (maybe even earlier) the objectives of our mission have been unclear… at best. Our never-ending—and never progressing—perpetual occupation of the region has caused countless casualties, a fortune in taxpayer dollars and has generated distrust, angst and radicalization throughout the region.
Such is the way with never-ending wars: One of their many casualties is the reputation and credibility of those who wage them.
It’s a phenomenon that’s not unique to seemingly endless occupations in foreign lands. Those who lead unending “wars” of a political nature often suffer from the same eventual erosion of credibility and support. With the legalization of marijuana, decriminalization of other drugs and a broadly bipartisan pushback against modern policing practices, the nation’s perpetual “War on Drugs,” for example, seems to be facing a similar deterioration of support from the American public.
For decades, an ideologically diverse coalition of activists and intellectuals have warned that the war on drugs was doomed to failure. The conservative icon, William F. Buckley Jr, argued in the 1990s that the war was already lost—and his warnings have only become more poignant as the years wore on.
As Buckley pointed out, government’s declaration of war against drugs hasn’t achieved the grandiose outcome of eliminating the social ills that accompany the recreational use of narcotics. In fact, it has done quite the opposite. Just as alcohol prohibition gave rise to a new form of organized crime in the first part of the 20th century, so too has the criminalization of other recreational intoxicants in the decades that followed.