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The Graveyard of Empires by Eilaf Farajalla

If you are American, politics is something you are advised to abstain from at fancy dinners and polite exchanges with strangers. If you are from the Middle East, then politics is not a choice, it is a reality.

When so much of your life is dictated by decisions by people you do not see, it is only fitting to spend a lot of time wondering why those decision come to be. Unexpected perk? Before you are old enough to drive a car, you get good at guessing agendas.

If you had access to a television this week, you saw what I saw and your blood probably ran cold too: the Taliban regaining power in Afghanistan. The men on the television had murder on their minds. Their eyes were open but they saw nothing, said nothing and as they continue to consolidate power in the coming days they would probably feel nothing.

As more and more shocking footage comes out of Afghanistan, gunshots fired into crowds, children clambering over the walls of airports, people hanging onto airplanes taking off into the sky, we see how the war on terror had resulted in even more terror. Theirs as well as our own.

The reason why this hurts is because we know what will come. The strong will devour the weak and women and girls are especially vulnerable. Poverty is the biggest motivation for radicalization and the political repression can only sweeten the deal to the millions of people who have less reasons to live and more reasons to die.

What could possess someone to hang onto a plane as it took off into the sky? Terror, plain and simple. We do not need to guess what will happen. We have already seen it before. The broken and the damned will proceed to break and damn what has not been broken and damned. Girls will stay at home. Boys will return to “religious” studies. Twenty years from now we will be arguing as to where this all went wrong. We must face this fact: The war on terror begot more terror. There are no winners today. Even the Taliban will struggle to rule a people that got a taste of freedom.

And as fingers here are pointed as to which US president is most to blame, we must not forget that fingers there are pulling triggers, killing innocent people, given license by a chaos from a Pandora’s box that we opened. America again is in a difficult position, caught between what is easy and what is right, between what is manageable and what is moral.

As America and Americans scramble to wonder what the war was for and if it was worth it all, we must reflect on the utility of war in solving conflicts at all. We must reflect on how a nation takes takes pride in taking in refugees has now created hundreds of thousands more in a humanitarian crisis unfolding in the weeks to come. We have given new meaning to the term Pyrrhic victory and we must think reflect on the arrogance that possessed us to join the British, the Soviets and the Mughals and wage war on a stretch of mountains historians have called the Graveyard of Empires.


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