So who’s really responsible for the Afghanistan fiasco?

Not Joe Biden, for sure. The final evacuation could doubtless have been handled better, but the moment it was clear that the US was going, then a panicked stampede was inevitable.

But Biden wasn’t the author of the policy that got the US into the quagmire in the first place. The blame game for that begins with George W. Bush and (i) his Neocon associates with their state-building fantasies about parachuting flatpack liberal democracies into medieval territories — an adventure that, as Heather Cox Richardson pointed out had cost $300m a day and more than 170,000 lives over twenty years; and (ii) the Bush doctrine which (as Richardson also reminds us) “committed the US to launching preemptive military actions in order to change regimes in countries we perceived as potential sponsors of terrorism — the doctrine that led us into invading Iraq in 2003, which diverted our attention and resources from Afghanistan”.

You could argue, I suppose, that Biden was a member of the Obama administration that could have called an end to the commitment on May 2, 2011, the day Osama bin Laden was killed. So he bears some responsibility.

But he should still get credit for ending it.

On the sociopathy of organisations

I’m continually surprised when journalists and media commentators generally purport to be shocked or horrified when corporations do despicable things — especially when they regard the corporate leaders involved as ‘decent’ or at any rate non-criminal human beings.

Don’t they understand that a corporations is essentially a superintelligent AI which is entirely focussed on achieving its purpose — which in the case of corporations these days is to maximise shareholder value? That’s why Facebook could be entirely run by clones of Mahatma Gandhi and St Francis of Assisi and would still be a toxic company.

This morning, Andrew Curry (Whom God Preserve) reminded me of that when he quoted a passage from John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath in which tenant farmers are objecting to foreclosure:

“Sure, cried the tenant men, but it’s our land… We were born on it, and we got killed on it, died on it. Even if it’s no good, it’s still ours…. That’s what makes ownership, not a paper with numbers on it.”

“We’re sorry. It’s not us. It’s the monster. The bank isn’t like a man.”

“Yes, but the bank is only made of men.”

“No, you’re wrong there — quite wrong there. The bank is something else than men. It happens that every man in a bank hates what the bank does, and yet the bank does it. The bank is something more than men, I tell you. It’s the monster. Men made it, but they can’t control it.”