In this column I write about law enforcement. In this space I write about officer recruiting and retention, officer wellness, multi-disciplinary response, and other such topics, and I will get to policing matters momentarily. But this week, I must first address the matter of Afghanistan.
America's decades-long adventure in Afghanistan is over—except it isn't (more on that later)—as President Joe Biden presided over our exit from that country with all the elegance of furniture falling down stairs.
During nearly 20 years of military operations in Afghanistan, more than 2,300 American servicemen and women lost their lives. More than 20,000 American service members were wounded and injured in battle. Many others have died by their own hand after returning home.
These people fought well and bravely. They served with distinction and dedication. They exemplified courage and compassion.
And in the end, their leaders failed them. Military commanders, intelligence officials, corrupt politicians, think-tank eggheads, tenured academics, media pundits, lifelong bureaucrats, and myriad others failed them.
Unceremoniously... ingloriously... capriciously... completely... they failed them.
This column is dedicated to the memory of the brave American warriors who paid the ultimate price in service of our nation, and in honor of all who served and returned home. Your sacrifice is not forgotten.
Now, back to matters of policing.
According to a report from the Chicago Police Department, there were 105 homicides recorded in the Windy City in July 2021, down slightly from last year, when 107 people were killed in the month of July. Nearly 500 people have been shot and killed there so far this year.
According to the Cincinnati Police Department's year-end crime report, the Queen City recorded 94 homicides in 2020—possibly the city's deadliest in recorded history and a 28.8% increase from 2019.
Thus far this year, Atlanta has recorded more than 90 murders in The Big Peach, while Philadelphia eclipsed the grim milestone of 300 people murdered in the City of Brotherly Love back in July.
In New York City, a deranged man with a hatchet—yes, a hatchet!—attacked an innocent citizen who was attempting to conduct a transaction at an ATM inside a bank in Manhattan's Financial District. The assailant reportedly went on to threaten another victim with a hammer before he was finally apprehended by police.
In San Francisco—where the district attorney has made it abundantly clear that he hasn't even the slightest interest in prosecuting retail theft cases—shoplifting has become so rampant that pharmacy giant Walgreens has permanently shuttered 17 store locations.
What do these cities—where criminals are clearly emboldened to continue their rampage unabated—have in common? Well, lots of things. For starters, these cities are run by career politicians—council members, mayors, and district attorneys—who publicly demonize and criticize their police. Further, each of these cities has moved in the recent past to "de-fund" their police, reallocating resources—financial or otherwise—to subsidize feel-good "social programs" and so-called "harm reduction" policies.
"What," you might inquire, "does all this have to do with Afghanistan?"
Well, gentle reader, I'm glad you asked.
Welcome to America
In the above summary of the rampant wrongdoing in the United States I have not even yet mentioned the crisis of criminality on the southern border.
According to the Pew Research Center, migrant encounters at U.S.-Mexico border are at a 21-year high. Migration from countries other than Mexico and the Northern Triangle has dramatically increased in recent months. Around three in ten (29%) encounters in the month of July involved migrants from other countries—more than triple the number in the same month just two years ago.
No one can say with certainty what the population of Afghanistan actually is—there has never been a reliable census taken—but estimates range from 38 to 40 million people. According to (UNHCR), there are at present nearly six million Afghans who have been "forcibly displaced from their homes." Of those, three million are displaced within Afghanistan and more than 2.6 million are Afghan refugees living in other countries.
That's before last weekend's fiasco.
There is no telling how many Afghan nationals will flee to other countries now that the Taliban has retaken Kabul (*side note: if you want to see what a real takeover of a nation's capital looks like, check out the picture of the brain trust sitting at the desk once occupied by ousted president Ashraf Ghani before he fled the country with bags stuffed full of cash).
There will undoubtedly be an influx of Afghan refugees (and they won't be COVID-19 vaccinated!) joining the already staggering numbers of undocumented migrants flooding the Southern border, and it's an absolute certainty that not all of them will be here because they love Uncle Sam. Some will be jihadis recently freed from Afghan prisons by the advancing Taliban.
Welcome to America.
Chaos in Afghanistan was preordained when the mission morphed from defeating al Qaeda (which was accomplished within a year) into an arrogant expedition of nation-building and a well-intentioned but fruitless attempt at lasting humanitarian assistance. Only a few observers—myself included—predicted such a devastating debacle, but most knew any method of exit would be messy.
To expect that a semi-nomadic tribal culture that dates back to the sixth century would suddenly become a Jeffersonian Democracy was sheer folly. The most successful experiment in representative democracy in the history of the world—the United States of America—can't even get it right much of the time!
To expect that a semi-nomadic tribal culture that for centuries has institutionalized, normalized, and incentivized the regular beatings—and death by stoning—of Afghani women and girls would suddenly allow females to seek an education or own a business or hold elected office was abject foolishness. Hell, women weren't allowed to vote in America until the ratification of the 19th Amendment 101 years ago this week!
The mayhem in Chicago, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco, and elsewhere was equally predictable. I've said for years that de-policing/defunding would lead to lawlessness, with criminals ruling the streets as police retreat. I've written for years that law-abiding people will be beaten raped, robbed, and murdered while criminals "thrive on the indulgence of society's understanding."
The parallel between the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan and the precipitous withdrawal from proactive policing on American streets is astonishing—in both cases, the result is chaos.
Okay, it's prediction time.
I mentioned at the top that America's decades-long adventure in Afghanistan isn't over.
Mark my words: The United States military will again have some manner of military entanglement in the Graveyard of Empires—sadly, a sequel to this movie is inevitable. The Taliban will harbor terrorists, who will conduct attacks on American interests, and in turn we'll retaliate in some form or fashion that will include military action.
Mark my words: The lawlessness now plaguing America's streets is certain to get worse before it gets better—more innocents will suffer at the hands of violent, malevolent, criminals—as police are hamstrung in their efforts to enforce the law.
I'd love to be wrong on these prognostications, but I won't be.
Mark my words.