Angelina Jolie, “The People of Afghanistan Deserve So Much Better Than This,” TIME, August 20, 2021 ( 4:09 PM EDT).
Angelina Jolie gives expression to feelings evoked by the American abandonment of the girls and women, and the people of Aghanistan, to the Taliban.
President Joe Biden ridiculed the Afghan soldiers who did not fight after the American withdrawal left them with no prospect of holding their own against the Taliban. Biden’s remarks were a cruel attack upon soldiers who had founght valiantly over the years, at a cost of some 68,000 lives.
He didn’t mention the girls of Afghanistan, who for 20 years displayed great courage in going to school, too many times at the cost of their lives. Angelina Jolie pays tribute to these girls and women, and their courage.
Biden and his foreign policy team have advanced the cold-eyed calculations which led him to announce the American withdrawal. Actually, they have also advanced a narrative based on lies and misrepresentations of facts–a cruel and dishonorable parody of reality– to justify Biden’s disastrous decision.
But lost in their base justifications, their defenses of the indefensible, are any references to the moral issues involved in abandoning the Afghans and their democratic project, after 20 years of pledging steadfast support for both. They don’t talk about how important it is for a nation to stand by its commitments.
Even on the cold grounds of “reason of state”, what before World War I was also referred to as raison d’état, that is, the justification of state behavior without any reference to moral values, the Biden decision was a collossal strategic blunder.
But after experiencing where reason of state can lead to, after experiencing Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich, and World War II, and Joseph Stalin and his horrrenous crimes, in 1945 the world created the United Nations and a Charter which established a framework for international relations based on international law, and a firm rejection of raison d’état. In 1948, the U.N. General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which has been followed by many treaties upholding those rights. The U.N. has established the International Criminal Court and in its 1992 Rome Statute provided for individual criminal liability for violations of fundamental rights by committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Abandoning 38 million people to a totalitarian movement based on the systematic violation of human rights necessarily involves moral issues.
Indeed, these moral issues are the moral issues of our age.
It will take some time to digest the enormous moral catastrophe represented by Joe Biden’s decision to retreat in the face of a totalitarian regime which is the antithesis of all the United Nations stands for: the protection of human rights and the government of relations between states through law–international law–which includes the guaranty of women’s rights, the prohibition of torture, and the prohibition of war crimes such as hunting down and executing individuals who were officials and adherents of the previous regime–or simply women exercising their human rights.
Biden’s catastrophic withdrawal will be seen by historians as the greatest foreign policy disaster since the Munich Pact in 1938, by which the governments of England and France turned over the German-speaking population of the Sudetenland, a part of Czechoslovakia, to the totalitarian government of Adolf Hitler.
Biden’s surrender to the Taliban was comparable in its infamy.
It will take time for us to absorb and respond to the the moral depravity which Biden demonstrated in turning his back on the Afghan people, and the horrific consequences which will flow, and which are already flowing, from his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan.
The accounting for Biden, and for the American people, will be painful. It has only just begun.
The Trenchant Observer