Take a good, hard look at that picture. Stare at every little detail, everything that can be implied by what’s happening (or, more importantly, not happening) in the room. It’s the photo that will come to symbolize American decay.
No, it’s not that the Taliban won, although they did. We never should have stayed in that godforsaken place, and with rules of engagement and lawyers for the other side, it’s a fight we were never going to win, as Yarvin points out quite well. We would have had to fight it with brutality the soft members of our modern society don’t have the stomach for.
So, we all knew we were going to leave and the Taliban would roll into Kabul, sitting in the back of Toyota Hiluxes equipped with heavy machine guns, at some point. To those that didn’t want troops there forever, that was always the reality.
The problem is in how we left; this wasn’t an orderly retreat, a well-executed decision to leave and take our friends with us. It was a cowardly, disorganized route. We vanished one night, our troops flying out in the dead of night and leaving billions of dollars of equipment behind. Then the Afghan Army, an institution we spent 20 years and hundreds of billions, if not trillions, of dollars training, collapsed in a few days. Finally, in the ultimate moment of shame, our embassy staff was forced to flee in confusion, burning documents and trying to rescue flags, as they desperately attempted to escape the rampaging Taliban forces. Left behind were American citizens that happened to be in the country, billions of dollars worth of military equipment (dropped or abandoned but never fired by the ANA), and countless brave Afghans that had fought alongside us or attempted to free their nation from the talons of the Taliban. It was disgraceful.
But even great nations suffer similarly shameful moments of defeat to barbarians. Victorian England was defeated as Isandlwana and Chinese Gorden was butchered with his garrison at Khartoum. Augustus lost three legions in the dark forests of Germany. Custer and his troopers were wiped out at Little Bighorn.
What separates those defeats from this, what makes those dark moments mere blips on an upward trajectory and this photo symbolic of decline, is that in those days there were brave men willing to do something about it.
After Isandlwana, the British won at Rorke’s Drift and then tamed the Zulus for good. After Chinese Gordon was killed by the Mahdi, Kitchener butchered the Sudanese with a vengeance, slaying thousands of them. Augustus avenged Teutoburg Wald and recovered the eagles. We tamed the west.
No more. Slow Joe is resigned to defeat, as you can see in the photo. No one is there with him, planning a retaliatory strike. The Joint Chiefs aren’t convened, ready to rain hellfire on our enemies. Joe isn’t even energetic; he’s defeated. What advice he is getting is coming from Zoom; the “leader of the free world” is so scared of something he’s vaccinated against that he can’t even see people in person. He’s scared, weak, and useless.
This is what decline looks like. We no longer even have the will to avenge our defeats, much less try to win in the first place.
By: Gen Z Conservative