It was a day of ashes and terror that rocked America. But it also sparked a unique patriotic moment. On September 11, 2001, nearly 150 elected members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, gathered spontaneously on the steps of the Capitol to sing a moving God Bless America, a cappella, after a minute of silence. Struck to the heart, the country closed ranks and was already looking for those responsible for its misfortune.
Nine days later, on September 20, US President George W. Bush addressed Congress in a solemn address: “In Afghanistan, we are witnessing the vision of the world according to Al-Qaida. The Afghan people have been brutalized – many are starving, many have fled. Women are not allowed to go to school. You can be jailed for owning a television. Religion can be practiced only the way their leaders dictate. A man can be imprisoned (…) if his beard is not long enough. ” Then this warning: the Taliban “Hand over the terrorists or they will share their fate”.
Already, by these words, the American president confused the fight against the terrorists of Al-Qaida and that against the Taliban regime, singled out for its obscurantism and its repressive practices as much as for its reception of the jihadists. How not to be seized with vertigo, twenty years later, by observing the final American debacle in Afghanistan, at the end of summer 2021?
After promoting the “War on terrorism”, here is the United States forced to negotiate the conditions of their departure with the very people whom they wanted to punish. The Taliban parade with abandoned American weapons. They have become Washington’s allies of circumstance against the local outspokenness of the Islamic State (IS) organization. As for the sacred union of 2001, combining Democratic and Republican voices, it has given way for years to deep internal fractures, which the election of Joe Biden could not magically resolve.
Two decades of American mess
Night has fallen on Afghanistan. What preceded it was not daylight, but a form of artificial light in which many Afghans, seeing the possibility of a less hermetic society, hoped for emancipation. One of the most ruthless chroniclers of these two decades of immense American mess is the Special Inspectorate General for the Reconstruction of Afghanistan (Sigar), headed by John Sopko.
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