Robert Crumb, 1967 (Zap comix #0, “City of the Future”)
America’s two decade long war in Afghanistan is over. The Taliban has taken Kabul, president Ashraf Ghani has fled, and planes are flying out of Kabul airport bearing American allies and personnel. The speed at which the U.S.-backed Afghan government fell is only shocking if you haven’t been reading the U.S. government’s own reports, which for years have been documenting its failed reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. The U.S. has wasted billions of dollars, thousands of lives, and millions of hours trying to rebuild Afghanistan, and recorded its failures in stunning detail in reports available to anyone who wants to read them…
We know about a goat farm and other failed efforts because of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), a government agency that started keeping track of the war and its material costs in 2008. Since then, the agency has kept detailed records of its investigations into the more than $144 billion the U.S. set aside for reconstruction in Afghanistan.
The office has produced special reports, such as the one about the goats, and quarterly reports for more than a decade. The history of the war is in those thousands of pages of documents. It’s a story of hubris, corruption, and abject failure. The warning signs were there to anyone who wanted to read them.
RTFA. Money wasted on economic projects, wasted trying to build an army that mirrored the US Military – which meant it was incompetent to work and function in Afghanistan. And all of this gets a big “OF COURSE” because we did the same in ‘Nam and pretty much every other nation outside of Europe and North America where we stuck our unwanted noses.
On March 19th…at 8:45 P.M., a six-hundred-and-fifty-foot-long fissure opened near Fagradalsfjall—which means the Mountain of the Beautiful Valley. Svanur Snorrason and his daughter were two of the first people to witness a volcanic eruption on the Reykjanes Peninsula since the thirteenth or fourteenth century…
Scientists kept changing their estimates of the anticipated life span of the eruption—from a few days to hundreds of years. The last time the Reykjanes Peninsula became active, it remained so for about three centuries. In the nine weeks since the fissure first opened, the site had rapidly and abruptly changed in appearance and behavior. In the first month, eight vents had opened; they were given such nicknames as Norðri (Northie) and Suðri (Southie). In early May, a fissure known merely as Vent 5 transformed into a spectacular fire geyser, shooting lava as high as a thousand feet into the air. Since then, everything but Vent 5 had become inactive…
The eruption is certainly better-mannered than many others that have marked Iceland’s geothermic history. Unlike the 2010 eruption at the Eyjafjallajökull ice cap, the Fagradalsfjall eruption isn’t hosing the atmosphere with lethal gas and ash, upending international air travel and forcing Icelanders to flee their homes. Unlike the 1973 eruption on the offshore island of Heimaey, it threatens to eradicate no town or fill a fishing harbor with land. Unlike the 1783 eruption of the Laki fissure, it’s not powerful enough to cause a worldwide extreme winter, leading to crop failures and famines. And it doesn’t pose the ongoing hazard of Mt. Hekla, a still active volcano that, after it erupted in 1104, became known as the Gateway to Hell. Fagradalsfjall had thus far caused no deaths and, temporary traffic jams aside, it had barely even proved an inconvenience. But I knew that, given the unpredictable nature of volcanic eruptions, it was foolish to bank on good manners.
Been reading my stuff long enough, you know I love Iceland. This tale is just one of the reasons. Read it all. Go visit. Enjoy the snow and ice, volcanoes, fish and fishing. Meet hardy folks.