Tuesday, August 17, 2010
August 15, 2050 marked the 35th Anniversary of the fall of Kandahar when the fundamentalist Taliban reclaimed the city and began imposing Sharia Law across the southern half of what had been pre-2015 Afghanistan. The fall of Kandahar marked the end of a fourteen year effort by the United States and a coalition made up of NATO countries to prevent the return of the Taliban regime after the September 11, 2001 attack in New York. The war, by far the longest in U.S. history had claimed 3,149 American wars dead, and had cost over $900 billion in an attempt to keep the frayed and fractured country together while it tried to stop incursions by the Taliban, who were supported by militants in Pakistan and the wealth of oil rich Middle East countries.
The separation, led to a buffer zone extending southwesterly from the Hindu Kush to the Iranian border. Pakistan saw their western tribal region begin to seethe in an attempt to break-away to join in a greater Pashtunistan. After fighting a short war to save face, Pakistan eventually saw this as a positive move, as Pashunistan became a buffer state on its western border and a source for allies in the event of war with India.
An Afghanistan confederation sponsored by the members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the United States, survives today, in the old territory of the Northern Alliance and in the enclaves of Tajik, Baluchi, and Hazara. This area encompassed most of the oil and gas reserves and where many discoveries of lithium deposits were found. The foundation for this confederation came from the efforts of the United States to provide what some had dubbed, “Diplomacy by cruise missile” where the threat held to the Taliban’s throat was conventionally assured destruction via missiles and bombs if they violated the rules of the armistice, by undermining or attacking the non-Pashtun areas or sponsoring any kind of global terrorist camps.
The only caveat to this arraignment was that it gave an enormous boost to those elements who believed that they had defeated the infidels. Within two years of the brokered armistice other pan-Islamic fundamentalist groups taking heart in the perceived defeat of modernity, began to strike at the more moderate Gulf States and across Africa. The United States had entered into a period of isolationism brought on by extended long term unemployment and falling revenues that caused a drastic cutback in military spending after the collapse of the dollar as the foreign reserve currency.
This came about as a maturing China, began to see the benefit of creating the world’s largest consumer society that within half a decade, replaced the falling market demands of an economically weakened Europe and America. They realized that by backing other currencies and the Yuen, and ending massive purchases of Treasury bonds that they could constrict the United States ability to project its power, leaving Asia and the Western Pacific under their own sphere of influence.
The resurgence of the United States came after a horrific attack occurred on September 11, 2021 on the twentieth anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center in New York. A cruise missile attack was launched from ocean containers hidden aboard an unsuspecting container ship, and struck the newly constructed Freedom Tower in New York. The attack came during a Saturday memorial service attended by over 250,000 people. At least 12,604 were killed and 98,000 injured, as four cruise missiles rained down on the tower and gathered crowd. At the same time, suicide attacks occurred in Moscow, Shanghai, Mumbai, Dubai and Paris, killing over 10,000 and leaving 150,000 injured from the attacks and panic that followed. Outrage was immediate and the United States began to mobilize in an effort not seen since the beginning of World War II, eighty years earlier. President Hillary Clinton, eight months into her second term, had already earned the title of America’s Margaret Thatcher for her strong foreign policy stand, first revealed during a stint as President Obama’s Secretary of State, made a stirring speech to the nation echoing words spoken eighty years earlier by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. President Clinton had spent her first term trying a blend of old “New Deal” projects and tax incentives to spur education and a return to the work ethic that had brought the United States to the pinnacle of world power. Moderate successes had led to her re-election against strong challenge by Senator Bobby Jindel. In her seventies, Mrs. Clinton rose to the occasion by leading a mobilization of America and enlisting the G-20, to confront those who wanted to send the advancing world hurtling back in time. Clinton’s foreign policy adviser Thomas Barnett had lobbied hard for a “Department of everything else” that could lead efforts to integrate developing nations by creating jobs; the true path to draining the swamp of despair. Clinton and Barnett teamed with Secretary of State Petreaus, created a team reminiscent of Nixon and Kissinger, or Truman and Marshall, as they wove a network of core nations into an alliance to confront the root cause of dissatisfaction among the burgeoning populations of the nations caught at the bottom of the economic and social pyramid.
China came to confront the reality that her aging population and dropping demographics was causing her consumer society dreams to rapidly diminish. She was faced with a need for a strong partner to help secure her global markets and who would not threaten her borders. China chose to return to the one source they recognized as a safe investment, the United States. The mobilization of Americas work force and a growing military, had the same effect World War II had had on the Great Depression. The Decade of Despair (2010-2020), as it was known, quickly ended. Americans feeling truly threatened as never before, banded together to confront the crisis. China recognizing this, and moved to shore up her alliance and protect her markets by forging a security alliance with the United States and the former combatants of World War II, Germany and Japan. In the next chapter, we will discuss how America regained her status as the most advanced and free society known to history
When I was invited to participate in this endeavor, the first thing I thought was that given my age 63, that it is unlikely that I will be around in 2050 to see how history will judge Afthanistan and whether America is mortally wounded by sudden course changes that has left today's Americans disgruntled more than any time since the 1960's. But, my children and grandchildren will be there to witness what really happened and whether it was worth it or just a footnote in a dusty unread history book telling of the end of the American Experience or whether we remain a symbol of hope for the rise of the common person borne on the winds of a multinational economic and political union. So in that vein I remain confident that we will re-purpose our society and hence continue to lead the world towards hope and prosperity.
I fell back to use history as a rhyme instead of repeating itself. If one has read William Strauss and Neil Howe’s Generations, Thomas PM Barnett’s Great Powers, David Kennedy's Freedom From Fear, John Robb’s Brave New War or Joel Kotkin’s The Next 100 Million: American in 2050, you will get a prism with which to view and ponder the future.
Afghanistan in 2050 is an enigma that may in 2050, look like the last lines of this old cowboy poem.
What is reincarnation? The Cowpoke asked his friend
His pal replied it happens when your life has reached its end
They comb your hair and wash your neck and clean your fingernails
And lay you in a padded box away from life's travails
And the box then goes in a hole that's been dug in the ground
And reincarnation starts in when your're planted neath the mound
Then clods melt down, just like the box, and you who is inside
And then you're just beginning on your transformation ride
Meanwhile the grass will grow upon your rendered mound
And soon upon your lonely grave a single flower is found
And then a horse will wonder by and graze upon flower
That once was you and now become your vegetated bower
The posie that the horse done eat along with his other feed
Makes bone and fat and muscle essential to the steed
But some is left that he can't use and so it passes thru
And finally lays upon the ground this thing that once was you
And say by chance I wanders by, and sees this on the ground
And I ponders and wonders at this object that I've found
And I thinks of reincarnation and life and death and such
And I come away concluding you ain't changed all that much.
Crossposted at chicagoboyz
Link to the whole series AFGHANISTAN 2050 ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION