So much of the US media coverage continues to miss the geopolitical forest for the partisan-pissery trees. If you assert, as I do, that this is not Saigon but Suez, the dismal parochialism of the telly analysis is near delusional. To recap, first from the top of my Sunday column:
If you're an Afghan schoolgirl, today is the fall of Kabul; elsewhere, in the chancelleries of allies and enemies alike, it's the fall of America.
Political parties don't lose wars; armies don't lose wars: nations lose wars. From my Tuesday column:
America is a global laughingstock right now... You lost, you blew it, it's over.
All the rest is details.
And yet, and yet ...from my Wednesday column:
The puppeteers waggling the dead husk that is Joe Biden have made a political calculation - that, on the home front, the fact of departure will count for more than the manner of departure.
That's because in electoral terms there are no takers for foreign adventuring: Bill Kristol and Max Boot and the rest of the national-security right are generals with no infantry. In domestic terms, an unstated, perhaps even unconscious purpose of the wars launched twenty years ago was to purge the dark lingering psychoses of Vietnam. Instead, we made it a pattern of behavior. The right's reflex response to every veteran interviewed on TV and radio this last week - "Thank you for your service" - carries with it an implicit extension "...in yet another thankless bloody worthless unwon war".
Psychologically, Americans checked out of these conflicts a decade-and-a-half before the troops: George W Bush told the citizenry their only contribution to the soi-disant Global War on Terror was to go shopping and go to DisneyWorld. And, since the Covid lockdowns have pretty much totaled both activities, what's left? Imperial policing operations for a people without an imperialist bone in their bodies is a bummer, a downer, who needs it?
So I would be surprised if many of the Biden base ever hear of the global humiliation of a clapped-out superpower - unless and until American citizens in Herat or Jalalabad start getting beheaded on camera. Even, say, French or British decapitations aren't going to cut it.
~I was chided yesterday for not offering "solutions". Well, I offered solutions fifteen years ago - and directly to presidents and prime ministers, all of whom went on their merry way to the present pretty pass. But I think whoever's running this administration has bet that this is the solution: offering Americans a comparatively placid, prosperous existence without a lot of boring indistinguishable foreign nutters harshing their collective mellow.
From the first chapter of my ancient bestseller After America:
In some ways, the most pleasant place to live is a colossus in gradual decline. Great powers aren't Sudan or the Congo, where you're sliding from the Dump category to the Even Crummier Dump category. Genteel decline from the heights can be eminently civilized, especially to those of a leftish bent. Francophile Americans passing through bucolic villages with their charmingly state-regulated charcuteries and farmland wholly subsidized by the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy can be forgiven for wondering if global hegemony is all it's cracked up to be. Okay, the empire busted up, but the capital still has magnificent architecture, handsome palaces, treasure houses of great art, a world-class orchestra, fabulous restaurants, stylish women... who wouldn't enjoy such 'decline'? To be sure, everything new — or, anyway, everything new that works — is invented and made elsewhere. But still: you benefit from all the cultural inheritance of greatness without being troubled by any of its tedious responsibilities.
Whether decline seems quite so agreeable viewed from a Jersey strip mall rather than a café on the Kärntner Straße is a matter of inclination - even without #BLM and antifa and the barbarism of Democrat downtowns. But Americans have bigger SUVs and more cable channels than anywhere else on the planet, and have already accepted that everything new that works is made elsewhere, generally in the business park round the back of the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
~So I'm unpersuaded by the arguments American "conservatives" appear to think are so devastating: Biden hasn't spoken to a world leader in the last week!
I don't blame him: What's there to say?
Beijing is already taunting Taiwan with the worthlessness of America's word. Washington's allies feel the same way, although they're rather distracted at the moment by scrambling to get their nationals out of Kabul before they're taken hostage. Rosette, a Belgian member of The Mark Steyn Club, writes:
Last night Tuesday at 23.00 local time a C17 transport plane from the Dutch Ministry of Defense C17 landed in Amsterdam with 35 Dutch, 16 Belgian, 2 British and 2 Germans citizens.
Belgium Defense Ministry is going to send today two C13 plane to evacuate a first group of Belgian and civilians of allied countries and Afghans people working with us. May I stress that we are two small countries: Holland 17 millions inhabitants and Belgium 11 millions.
With the exception of the British Parliament, Washington's uniformly furious allies are remaining circumspect, mostly because of the delicacy of the situation on the ground. If you're a compatriot of Rosette in Khost or Kunduz, you'll be rescued either by a very well thought out commando mission from a friendly nation (ie, not Washington) ...or not at all.
This all began when the Potemtagon abandoned Bagram air base without notifying either the Afghans or their Nato partners. I'm told there is unprecedentedly minimal contact between the British and US troops at Kabul Airport right now, and the former are quite open about their certainty that they'll get no advance warning when Washington pulls out.
~As to the impending influx of Afghan "translators" into Europe and America, we've already brought 50,000 "interpreters" into the United States - which, as Daniel Greenfield points out, is one translator for every two soldiers. So it's just another sleazy racket, like everything else.
As for the Continent, M Macron has subtly drawn attention to the fact that young Afghan chappies (as is traditional, almost all the women and children are staying back home) are not the most assimilable immigrants.
I'll say. Almost exactly five years ago I spent a most agreeable day in Stavenger, Norway, with an utterly delightful lady who was training the Afghan refugees how to be Cary Grant. Since the lads from the Hindu Kush had shown up there had been a sudden uptick in sexual assaults because of misunderstood cultural signals: the nice multiculti Nordic blonde would flash a welcoming smile at the exotic youth from Mazar-i-Sharif and he would respond by dragging her into the undergrowth and ripping her knickers off.
My friend was instructing the young gentlemen in the finer points of the more circuitous approach: "Would you like to come back to my pad and listen to my Lionel Richie CD?", etc. At the end of the afternoon, she asked me, "Well, do you think this is working?"
She was a charming companion, and I was doing my best Cary Grant myself. But I was not unsympathetic to the young Mohammedans. You leave a society where it is forbidden to look upon a woman from outside your family unless she's wearing the mandatory body bag. And you land in a country where the women are perambulating down the sidewalk in cut-off shorts and halter tops: it's legs, arms, cleavage everywhere you look.
And you're expected to suppress every inclination because the people who dropped you on that street from the other side of the world are so impenetrably stupid that the core tenet of their state religion of "multiculturalism" is that all cultures are basically the same.
So, as in 2016, to modify Queen Victoria's apocryphal advice, lie back and think of Jalalabad.
~I'll be back tonight with the latest episode of our current Tale for Our Time: Jack London's Burning Daylight. This weekend we'll have the latest of our summer poetry-and-music specials, which might be welcome after this humiliating week.
Tales for Our Time and Steyn's Sunday Poems are special productions of The Mark Steyn Club, now in its fifth year. I'm thrilled by all those SteynOnline supporters across the globe - from Fargo to Fiji, Vancouver to Vanuatu, Surrey to the Solomon Islands - who've signed up to be a part of it. My only regret is that we didn't launch it eighteen years ago, but better late than never. You can find more information about the Club here - and, if you've a pal who might be partial to this sort of thing, don't forget our special Gift Membership.