LAS VEGASTAN…

It was always my solution. 

But nobody was asking me or listening to me. Now, as we watch our country and its heroes, close up shop and hot-foot it out of town, leaving behind an entire arsenal to the bad guys, I think I was more right than I knew. 

It was the Covid argument of its time: People, wringing their hands and clutching their pearls over “this endless war,” would occasionally ask me what I thought we should do in Afghanistan. I’m fairly certain they didn’t really want to hear my opinion. Those types of questions are generally asked so the person asking them can then tell you what they think should be done.  They’ve been dying to tell someone. They have all their talking points lined up and they’re ready to unload. 

And, of course, most ideas were trapped in the prison of the political. For some, whatever CNN said to do was the absolute truth. For others, whatever FOX News said to do, was the absolute truth. Does any of this sound familiar?

Nah…surely we’ve gotten over that (insert eye roll here). 

The thing about situations like Afghanistan is that you must deeply examine what you truly believe. Deeply. Those types of scenarios require you to get a 30-thousand-foot look at your own world view. 

I’m amazed at the people who still haven’t done that. 

For me, the answer was always easy and non political. 

What do you do about Afghanistan? You turn it into Las Vegastan. 

Hear me out …

No self respecting American, wanting to be seen as “fair minded,” would agree that nation building is a good thing. It never works. Right?

Wrong.

Nation building works everywhere it is tried. It worked in Japan. It worked in Germany. It worked in South Korea. And yes, it worked in the southern United States. We called it “Reconstruction.” 

What does’t work is military base building.

The human race either honestly embraces its own vices and or it continues to make rigid rules, punishable by the harshest means available, in the governing of itself. 

Those who are the least honest in their allowance for humans to be…well…humans, always end up being the most totalitarian brutalizers. And when you put “God” in the middle of all that nonsense, you run the risk of getting something truly monstrous. 

My wife and I just finished watching all 4 seasons of The Handmaid’s Tale. And the over-aching theme that keeps coming back again and again, is how this crazy, religious fundamentalism took hold and became big and powerful enough to take over the United States (or most of it, anyway). 

How and (more importantly, why) did these people become so backward and brutal and draconian (that’s the new “dystopian” for word people) and unconcerned with entire portions of humanity? 

Hollywood chose to place that hypothetical mantle on white, fundamentalist Christians – probably Trump supporters and MAGA hat wearers. 

But the whole time they were making up this disgusting alternate universe, it was really (like, actually) playing out – in real time – on the other side of the world, in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Syria. 

You can’t make the bad guys Middle Eastern, though. That would be disrespecting someone’s culture. 

At some point, if we’re really, truly concerned with global human rights, we’re going to have to get over our own “wokeness” and basically say something akin to what Arnold said to free born Americans the other day:“screw your culture.” 

If your culture includes the genital mutilation of little girls…screw your culture. 

If your culture includes women being seen as property (at worst) and second class citizens (at best)…screw your culture. 

If your culture includes the idea that an entire race of people (like, maybe…oh, I dunno…Jews) should be eliminated from the face of the Earth…screw your culture. 

And if you’ve used Afghanistan as a launching base from which to attack the freest nation in the history of the world, then you don’t get to have it anymore. 

I’m that Libertarian other Libertarians hate. Because I actually do believe in Nation building. Live and let live is a wonderful concept, as long as everybody is on the same page, you know…living and letting others live. 

Once that trust is broken, and we see that we’re going to simply be in a clash of wills for all eternity, then it’s time to eliminate some bad ideas and confiscate some land. 

It’s easy to talk about America as a war machine and the world police and the bully in the neighborhood and all of that, until our airfields are overrun with people trying to turn the clock back to the 13th century. 

Sometimes a playground is what is needed to calm everybody down and have them re-think their stringent positions on things. 

Look at Dubai and Quattar. 

Why not have a place where everybody can let their hair down and throw back a few and get a little weird; where rich, Middle Eastern leaders can do something really naughty (that they’re most certainly doing somewhere, away), that would not be accepted by their followers, that the CIA can secretly film and hold them in a perpetual state of blackmail?

It works for our elected officials. 

Maybe if some of those Taliban guys were more in debt to a casino and crushing on the stripper, with a bourbon in their hand, they wouldn’t be so fired up about putting burkas back on people. 

Maybe if you could go see Cirque du Soleil, then grab a world class dinner after, you would chill out a little and bask in the wonders of what motivated humans can achieve, rather than trying to either put them in chains or in a grave. 

Maybe if you could catch Celine Dion in her 3rd residency and marvel at that vocal instrument for ninety minutes or so, you’d go back to your poppy farm a little more inspired and a little less “fundamentalist.”

Believe it or not, this is the vision Trump was tying to sell that little pudgy North Korean dude. People made fun of it, but I got it. And I agreed with it. 

They always say, “we can’t impose our values on other countries.” 

Sure we can. We do it all the time. And we absolutely should. That’s where the “diving deeply into what you believe” part comes in. I believe in human rights and individual liberty and freedom of speech and expression and freedom to assemble and question the government and liberty and justice for all. Which one of those “values” shouldn’t be transplanted into any part of the world?

Which of those values should be held for America only? Or should they also apply to every person, all over the world?

So, yes. We absolutely should import American and western values everywhere we can. Wherever it takes hold, the place will end up better than it was.  

Only, in the case of Afghanistan, we didn’t even try. They call it the graveyard of Empires because all people have ever done is fight there. And we did the same thing. And that’s why we’re leaving in shambles like every other nation in history has done. 

As it stands, the only thing the Afghani people saw from America was military bases and combat boots. And as much as I love the American troops, if you grow up thinking that’s all America is, you will only have a one-sided view of freedom and America.  

The next time we go into a country to root out insanity – and I believe after this week, we’ll probably be going back to this particular country sooner than later – maybe we should bring some night clubs and theaters and bars and listening rooms and art houses as well. 

I’ll be happy to headline at the first casino open. 

   

R

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