It Should Be Humanitarian, Not Political!

The 24/7 press about the situation in Afghanistan wears on one’s psyche, especially in light of all the finger-pointing, mud-slinging and everyone putting their own coat of varnish on the situation and its political ramifications.  I am a forever supporter of a free press, but … in return, I expect them to be responsible in their reporting.  This responsibility seems to be largely lacking at the moment.

Nobody can sum up a situation quite like New York Times’ Frank Bruni, so I shall leave it to him to unpack the current chaos …

Stop Politicizing the Misery in Afghanistan

By Frank Bruni

Opinion writer

26 August 2021

Democrats are panicked that the debacle in Afghanistan will shake American voters’ confidence in not only President Biden but also the rest of the party, potentially costing it control of the Senate and the House in 2022. They’ve said as much — to me, to other journalists, to anyone who will listen.

I wish they’d stop, because their political fate is nothing next to the fate of Afghans on the wrong side of the Taliban. And every time they communicate as much concern with the party’s near future as with Afghanistan’s, they inch toward the very destiny they dread.

To review: There were explosions today outside the airport in Kabul, underscoring how gravely dangerous the situation there is. Afghans have been crushed to death in stampedes to that area. Many who took considerable risks to help us now justifiably fear brutal reprisals from the Taliban and cannot count on us to get them to safety. Refugees have traded one hell for another: fetid, sweltering, rat-infested camps unfit for even fleeting human habitation. And some of our allies have struggled to rescue their own citizens and lost yet more faith in the United States.

But, sure, let’s talk about domestic politics and the midterms — which, mind you, are more than 14 months away.

I’m not minimizing the stakes of those elections. Given the Republican Party’s capitulation to conspiracy theories, its contempt for democratic norms, the paranoia of Marjorie Taylor Greene, the depravity of Matt Gaetz, the cowardice of Kevin McCarthy and the stubborn pull of their orange overlord, a Republican takeover of Congress would likely be disastrous.

But you know how Democrats and the media can increase the odds of that? By framing too much in those terms. By conspicuously keeping score: This event works to our advantage, that development works in theirs, we drew blood here, they drew blood there. When everyone seems equally political, everything is reduced to politics, and voters have a harder time seeing who’s on their side. They see only a contest with contestants out for themselves.

Republicans are goading Democrats, that’s for sure. Donald Trump is mocking them and Fox News taunting them — by politically weaponizing the misery in Afghanistan and casting it as an illustration of Biden’s and Democrats’ unfitness to govern.

Let them. They look parochial at best, callous at worst and opportunistic through and through. They’re right to demand more of the country and its president than what we’ve seen in regard to Afghanistan, and it’s fine to discuss that, but not in a tone so nakedly partisan and not with a memory so audaciously selective.

Trump would have done us prouder? Hah. The United States was humiliated repeatedly and spectacularly under his, um, leadership, as he gleefully trashed our most cherished ideals. What’s more, there was nothing in his magnitude of ignorance, self-consumption and neglect to suggest that he would have accomplished a withdrawal from Afghanistan — which, mind you, he was insistent about — with more grace. Any assertion otherwise charts the confluence of runaway revisionism and pure fantasy.

But if Democrats want to be sure to beat Republicans, their best bet is to be not like them: to focus on the substance of problems rather than their political implications, to talk about solutions without calculating their political benefit. In these jaded times, a little genuine earnestness could go a long way.

That holds true for the media as well. In an excellent column in The Washington Post recently, Margaret Sullivan rued the fact that reporting on government has become reporting on politics, although the two aren’t — or at least shouldn’t be — the same. Her prompt was the fight between Democrats and Republicans over a congressional investigation into the events of Jan. 6. She implored journalists to “stop asking who the winners and losers were in the latest skirmish. Start asking who is serving the democracy and who is undermining it. Stop being ‘savvy’ and start being patriotic.”

Amen. A similar plea has a place in the coverage of Afghanistan. I’ve pretty much given up on Republicans for the time being, but I’m still rooting for better from Democrats, who should focus on how the United States honors the promises we made in Afghanistan, limits the suffering there and reclaims a place of honor and reliability in global affairs. I don’t want the handicapping of the 2022 horse race, at least not right now.

39 thoughts on “It Should Be Humanitarian, Not Political!

  1. Pingback: It Should Be Humanitarian, Not Political! – Nelsapy

  2. Pingback: It Should Be Humanitarian, Not Political. | Ramblings of an Occupy Liberal

  3. I wonder if the horror we are now witnessing in Afghanistan would not be happening, if all the elected and un-elected government officials, as well as paid editorialists and editors had paid even a penny of the attention to Afghanistan as they are now paying to it. In 2008, we put Afghanistan on the back burner. We should have left then, after those who wanted to leave were assisted in doing so peacefully. We did not leave and things only got more complicated and tragic. The President, I believe is doing the best he can and we should be thankful that so many have been helped to leave for safety and, hopefully, a full life.

    Liked by 3 people

    • You’ve hit the nail on the head, Ned. People don’t care about what happens outside their own backyard … until it directly affects them. And then, because they have ignored it all, they are largely ignorant, do not understand the situation, and just stand by pointing fingers. I agree with you … President Biden has made some errors, for sure, but he is doing a fine job and is trying. He’s ignoring the fingers and arrows pointed his way and just doing the best he can do. I applaud him for that.


  4. Our Canadian Prime Minister promised he would get out 27,000 Afghani refugees before he closed shop in Afghanistan. Well, he closed shop yesterday, long before the American deadline date, after getting less than 4,000 people out. I cannot understand why the airlift was shut down so suddenly, and why over 23,000 people were abandoned to whatever fate awaits them.
    Yet no Canadian news services asked that question. Why not?
    Bruni is so right that politics in North America has gotten out of the business of government. It has become all about being in power, and pushing your own political agenda. The people, mistakenly called voters, no longer matter.
    The world is falling apart around our feet. Politicians are dancing while the rest of us are slogging through their filth. When are we going to stand up for ourselves and change the rules of the game? Because that is what politics has become, a game with winners, where we the people are the losers, no matter who wins power.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Maybe, but your country is still trying after the bomb exploded in Kabul. Trudeau decided that no more Canadian planes could be risked. He shut down the airlift almost immediately. Now he is looking for other nations to get Canadians and Canadian allies out. That is not human decency.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Jill, the true history that both democrats and republicans have screwed up Afghanistan for decades does not fit on a bumper sticker. Dating back to Ronald Reagan, we used Afghanistan in a proxy war against the USSR and then abandoned them when it was over. This absence allowed the Pakistani instigated Taliban to come in and take charge in the 1990s. Then we have the post 9-11 vintage of meddling where we have mucked around for almost twenty years to get back to the same place as before 9-11. Keith

    Liked by 3 people

    • Jill, Margaret Sullivan’s comment of assigning blame fits neatly within in my current post. As a sidebar, news organizations used to cite actions of the DOL, IRS, DOE, etc. Now they cite the Biden administration, Bush administration, etc. That implies political machinations when none may exist. Keith

      Liked by 1 person

    • True … nothing is as simple in international politics as that which fits on a bumper sticker. People are largely ignorant of it … they really don’t care what happens outside their own backyard UNTIL …


    • International politics 101.
      1. Don’t invade Russia, it’s bigger than you think and the people have this near mystic relationship with the land, which transcends politics.
      2. Leave Afghanistan alone. It’s geography does not lend itself to conventional warfare and its tribal, clan, ethnic and religious make-up would have taxed Bismarck and Kissinger together. Only use soft-power.
      3. Before thinking about getting involved in any other nation a government, its military, intelligence and diplomatic services should all read several histories; if possible not the same ones either.

      Liked by 2 people

      • You should teach this course, for your three-point plan is spot on! We never, it seems, quite learn from our past mistakes. You know that old expression attributed to Albert Einstein, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” Something to be said for that.

        Liked by 1 person

        • My go-to quote is from Spanish philosopher George Santayana’s “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” (some records have it as ‘learn from’ rather than ‘remember’).
          Both get you at the same place….The Wrong One.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: It Should Be Humanitarian, Not Political! - FDR DEMOCRATS

  7. Thank you for sharing!!.. what transpired in Afghanistan would have happened no matter who were President ( I believe it were Donald Trump who set up the withdrawal date)… elements of today’s American society ( and not just Congress) have vowed to do everything they can to deny President Biden, thinking only of themselves… the leadership can only do so much… it is up to the people, working together, to make a difference and if they wish to know who is responsible for any failures, all they have to do is look in a mirror… 🙂
    “It’s time for greatness — not for greed. It’s a time for idealism — not ideology. It is a time not just for compassionate words, but compassionate action. A lot of people are waiting for a Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi to come back — but they are gone. We are it. It is up to us. It is up to you.” (Marian Wright Edelman)… 🙂

    Until we meet again..
    May your day be touched
    by a bit of Irish luck,
    Brightened by a song
    in your heart,
    And warmed by the smiles
    of people you love.
    (Irish Saying)

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, it was the former guy who set the initial date … fully believing he would still be in office, but with the transition, May was not an achievable date. He also negotiated with a terrorist organization (Taliban) that he had no right to do. But, everyone seems to be pointing all ten fingers at Biden. He, meanwhile, it doing his job, ignoring the mud-slinging, and in my book being very professional, doing the best he can. Yes, I’ve long hoped for a new MLK, but … you’re right … it’s up to us. We just don’t seem to know how.

      Many thanks for the Irish Saying and for dropping in, Dutch!


  8. The way everything is played, not just in the U.S. but everywhere else in the world too, is the party candidates trying their hardest, to keep themselves in office or to get elected into office with absolutely no mind of what would make the lives of the people better and that is what we get for allowing these politicians to run our separate countries…

    Liked by 2 people

  9. And so it continues. The bickering, the ratchetting up of the dance to points scoring, the loss of dignity, the final breaking lose of the Conspiracy Plagues from small corners into mainstream. All fed by one of those fatal blunders of judgement governments are ever destined to make.
    The USA continues its slide into a murk ridden land where the future is uncertain and a sizeable proportion of the population still unable to cope with an African American being in the Whitehouse cannot grasp what is happening.
    No more than a sizeable proportion of the UK could get the idea that we were no longer ‘Great Britain’ but a one state within a European Union.
    All nations are prone to being gripped by folly at some stage. And thus here we are demonstrating a twisted side of the ‘Special Relationship’, the idea both in the UK & USA Indigenous ‘White Folk’ are special’
    While China calls the shots as it sees fit.
    Some irony uh?

    Liked by 3 people

    • You were doing so well Roger and I agreed with all you were saying, especially that a sizeable proportion of the population being unable to cope with an African American being in the White House. But then you couldn’t resist a pop at the Brexiteers. Yet while we were Great Britain we traded with Europe and all was OK, and we traded with the Commonwealth too, something to which we belonged that was important. Somehow we went from trading partners with Europe to being a subsidiary and we belonged to the Commonwealth but no longer traded with them. I wonder at what cost. Now we’re back to trading with Europe but can choose our friends to trade with again as well. That suits me.I know of an Italian child taken from her mother- the legal guardian, by her father to live in Germany with his new German partner. The German courts said they couldn’t return the child as she was with a German national, The French Court of Justice ruled in favoour of the German Court. So they don’t even obey their own rules on Legal guardianship.Recently France refused point blank to accept any refugees and yet the EU will certainly force
      another Government to accept them. We don’t all live by the same rules or obey them anyway..
      I’m white. in fact according to I’m whiter than white, well except for a silly 1% from the Levant, but how far back must I got tto find 1%? I’m from mainly Wales with a bit of England thrown in. I think being Welsh is special but I don’t think being white makes me special. My son in law is black and I have two beautiful latte grand children. Would I prefer it if they were white. NO. I don’t see a colour, I see a person. Those who see a colour are in a minority and are definately in the wrong. Racism has no place in the world. incidentally America never had a white indigenous race, they were the invaders rather as the Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Vikings were in England pushing the indigenous race further into Wales.
      I don’t think China calls the shots here yet though it may come if America loses it’s Superpower status.
      Have a good weekend.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Aye David. I could not resist that pop at the Brexiteers. Were the whole argument have been over Economics there would have been some comfort for me as Economics resembles the weather. Ever changeable. Sadly there was the amount of racism and jingoism from a voluble minority who made their presence felt straight away. It also encouraged nationalism in various forms something which I am ever suspicious of. There is also the nagging problem of the business being delivered by a Boris Johnson cabinet; not a scenario to engender ease of mind.
        There is a problem with reading a great deal of history, the process leaves one with a feeling that events borne out by sudden decisions based on emotions do not often work out so well in the long run. There would be much comfort in being proven wrong, time and time again. In 60 years of following the news, reading history and observing politics, so far still gloomy. Slow and steady fudging seems to work best.
        Of course it would be disingenuous of me to simply say my whole stance is based on a loathing of corruption of the Republican Party in its haste to court a populist vote, and a jaundiced view of the sincerity of the entire Brexit vote as being only concerned with Economics and Constitutions. In part I confess to a current combative dissatisfaction with a large number of active groups not interested in Unity. Yesterday there was the experience of being called a ‘Daily Mail Reader’ for being highly critical of Jeremy Corbyn and his grouping. It was amusing since my style of accusation was something which would have fitted into an editorial or comment piece in Pravda, I keep telling folk I am far, far Left, they never listen.
        Maybe this has something to do with being born in the shadow of WWII and a childhood fearful of nuclear war. For me Unity seems the only answer. In theory forged by Compassion, Respect and Tolerance; there again there is this nagging urge to have re-education establishments to ensure the trouble-makers and hate-mongers are shown the error of their ways; no need to tell me, the answer is plain….won’t work.
        This seems to have strayed off on the original topic, sorry about that. Just the way it is for me at present, one of the reasons I have stayed off of WP over the past couple of months, currently too acerbic and judgemental at most topics. Summer is not my season.
        Take care, best wishes.

        Liked by 3 people

        • i must admit, the idea of anything being delivered by Boris Johnson gives me a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach indicative of reviewing my last meal for a second time. Unwelcome.
          Probably because Holywell can’t be classed as mainstream, and certainly becausde there are politicians I could never follow I saw and heard little jingoisn and racism in this debate , and perhaps because I know don’t even have a racist toenail I based my vote on different criteria. But, I did feel there might be some racism involved in the EU reactions to our result. I thought there might have been a chance of reviving our old trade agreement style with them in exxchange for some give on our side. I think Boris had swung so far anti-EU by then that he didn’t even try.
          I too was born in the shadow of WWII and grew up with the spirit of Co-operation rather than of Unity and thoiught with the co-operation of Police forces and of the Armed forces we were doing OK. but under De Gaulle everything was grudging. He made it so difficult to join the Common Market that when we did get in, we went too far too quickly.
          Still, we’re out for now, and must make the best of it including living with ‘The Other Side’, after all we occupy a small island.
          Being British, especially Welsh, I tend to wear a jacket no matter what the weather so that I have pockets filed with panaceas for all occasions, bad chgest, cough medicines, alopecia, dehydration and mumps.The hay fever one says it’s Summer otherwise I might not have noticed. Not that I go out very much anyway. I hope the seasonal change gets you back on track.
          All the best, Hugs

          Liked by 2 people

          • Hi David
            Leaping into the middle of your reply.
            Everything involving De Gaulle was difficult. As WWII moved in favour of The Allies USA & GB (As it was then) had many disagreements and spats; the one thing they were in accord with was that De Gaulle was a Royal Pain, managing to elevate France from liberated nation status to Ally.
            Returning to ‘today’, I fear we will indeed have to make the best of it. (Although I still have a dream of making a small fortune out of T-Shirts with the logo ‘Told you’).
            Very wise wearing a jacket, mine is kitted out with car keys (two sets you never know if you’ll lose one), door keys, phone, wallet, masks, tissues; other stuff – I keep explaining to my wife Sheila women have handbags, men have pockets.
            Yes, the autumn and winter beckon me; the positive side to that is that I have sympathise with folk who hate winter; mirror image empathy.
            Finally cheery thought for today, about Boris Johnson- The old saying (in various forms) ‘All Political careers end in failure’ and we all know how swift The Conservative Party is in toppling anyone who is seen to stumble. It should be fun to watch, as Jill and her fellow Americans would say ‘I’ll buy the popcorn’.
            Take care, and best wishes.

            Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, my friend, the U.S. is on a muddy path straight downhill, the bottom of which is a banana republic … or worse. I shan’t comment on the UK and Brexit, for at the moment our own house is far dirtier than yours and I don’t have sufficient facts to feel right in commenting. I shall leave that to you and David!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes there was a time when a large section of the world population paid attention to the USA, even if it was in the form of a back-handed compliment of seeing it as a large sinister giant with influences everywhere.
        MAGA and its action toys are turning the world perception into a dark-comedic soap opera.
        David actually made a valid reasoning for a move from the EU. Not one I agree with, but that said, an Economic one with a credible base. (It took me 5 hours to formulate my reply)

        Liked by 2 people

  10. The partisan attitude of the press has reached a point where you know the lead story is going to be anti whichever side your paper doesn’t promote, but what it lacks these days is News. Since they are still classed as newspapers or in the case of Television, News Shows, gthat’s what they should concentrate on, The News.It’s not like the World lacks news to report with all the fires cthat have beeen raging abroad and of course in North America too.
    The bombing outrage in Afghanistaan needs to be reported, but not as a point scoring exercise. Joe Biden has no doubt made some mistakes but remember, he’s not actually there making decisions. The military do that after seeing how events unfold. If they’re not careful the newspapers will begin to look as ridiculous as TV’s Fox Network look everyday. Flights of fancy may tittivate the people who buy newspapers but the media do a disservice to the public by not presenting the news rather than a party political broadcast. Both camps need to forget the events of 14 months away until Afghanistan is over and praise or blame can be reported properly starting with the choice to go into Afghanistan and every Presidential action since then.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Actually, it’s worse than even that. Every media outlet, right, left, and middle, seem determined to bash Joe. A few will occasionally mention the guilt of G.W. Bush for taking us there in the first place, and the guilt of the former guy for actually making deals with a terrorist organization that he had NO right to make, but Joe Biden seems to be in the crosshairs everywhere you turn. You’re right … what is happening in Afghanistan must be reported, but in a factual manner, not an outpouring of blame and mud-slinging. Sadly, the people of this country eat that up and as long as the blame game sells ad copy, it will continue. Bah humbug.

      Liked by 2 people

Comments are closed.