No use Biden our time. Let’s get on with nation-building

Ideas

No use Biden our time. Let’s get on with nation-building

Just as the US gave a spectacular example of how not do do it, Zambia proved that it really needn’t be that hard

Columnist

US President Joe Biden emerged from three days of hiding this week to clear up a misunderstanding that had arisen in the preceding 20 years. He announced to a bemused world, and to millions of terrified Afghans, that from now on, Afghanistan was on its own. The US hadn’t spent 20 years rearranging the geology of the countryside, he offered by way of explanation, because it was trying to do nation-building à la Iraq in a country known as the “graveyard of empires”. Read my lips: no nation-building here, build your own bloody nation!

Bristling with indignation, Biden berated the Afghanis for not being prepared to fight for the survival of the until-then US-backed government, which one imagines saw itself as the shiny citadel of the nation-building effort that was, alas, all in the imagination. He wasn’t going to be the fourth American president to fight a pointless war in Afghanistan, even though as wars go it took up relatively little by way of manpower or hardware. Presumably the Afghanis are more dispensable than the South Koreans, for example, for whom great amounts of US tax dollars are dispensed without anyone calling it war, or mistaking it for nation-building.

But if the US wasn’t in Afghanistan to “nation-build”, what was it doing then? After all, it busied itself propping up a multiparty system of government, which crumbled as quickly as one of the EFF’s bridges in Limpopo when confronted by the Taliban...

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