Geoffrey Clarfield

Did the Plague Cause the Defeat in Afghanistan?

Athena-Patron Goddess of Athens-photo by Geoffrey Clarfield
Athena-Patron Goddess of Athens-photo by Geoffrey Clarfield

The West (the US, Canada, Britain and NATO forces) has been defeated in Afghanistan by a group of Islamic tribes, the Taliban under the umbrella of Jihad. Thousands of poorly informed pundits are weighing in on the ins and outs and the rights and wrongs of this defeat. For your information the Taliban share the same ideology as does Hamas; Jihad and the destruction of Israel and the West.

Simply put, the Western defeat in Afghanistan is just one more, albeit modern example of the clash of east versus west that goes back to the war between the Greek City States of classical Greece and the Persians, who represent what used to be called and still should be called “Oriental Despotism.”

When the West has been in crisis (and the Afghan defeat is the latest) there often emerge “thought leaders” from unlikely places. These comprise insightful men and women who can see the forest from the trees during times of extreme social and political turbulence, men like Athenian Thucydides, Italian Machiavelli and today’s Victor Davis Hanson, an American.

Machiavelli, during the 15th century AD, and contrary to public opinion, was the first Italian Renaissance classical scholar to understand that the world was changing and that politics had changed in a world no longer dominated by medieval Christianity, and instead, more and more resembled the ancient world of the Greeks and Romans whom he studied.

That is the lesson conveyed in his short classic, The Prince. The Prince is not a manual for how rulers can get away with murder, although it describes many such examples. The rest is commentary and there is lots of it for those interested.

Following in his philosophical footsteps is Professor Victor Davis Hanson. He is a fifth generation Californian farmer, a friend of Israel and a man who has become one of the most influential classicists in America, if not the Western World. He applies the lessons of the ancient past to the immediate present.

Hanson is fluent in Greek and Latin, a tenured professor of classical history, an expert on the comparative history of warfare, author of more than 20 academic treatises, a blogger, public intellectual, TV personality and profound analyst of today’s and America’s malaise, especially the pernicious effect that Critical Race Theory is having on the English speaking democracies. If Tucker Carlson of Fox News represents the steadfast and brave intelligent layman of the informed citizenry of the USA, then Hanson plays the role of the wise and erudite mentor to the intelligent layperson.

Hanson is one of the world’s experts on Thucydides. Fifteen years ago, Hanson wrote a book about Thucydides’ book about the Peloponnesian War, that generation long struggle between Athens and Sparta and their allies for dominance of the Greek speaking world of the fifth century BC.

It was a brutal war and has become the basis for almost all our contemporary thinking about war and politics. For the record, Athens was a democratic polis emerging from tribalism while Sparta maintained a variation of the tribalism of Homeric times, later supported by its former enemy, despotic Persia. During the war with Athens Sparta was in many ways more similar to despotic Persia than to the rest of the changing “progressive” Greek world represented by Athens and its allies.

We know about this war because Thucydides, a senior and disempowered Athenian general, sat out much of the war and then chronicled most of it. His book has been studied for more than 2,400 years. (Thomas Hobbes was one of his modern translators).

Thucydides tells us that there was a point, early in the war, when Athens knew it could hold off any Spartan invasion by land by bringing the farmers of rural Attica inside the city walls of Athens, supplying one and all with food from the ships that arrived from the eastern part of its maritime empire to its protected port (the Piraeus), until the Spartans ran out of food and went home.

Then came the plague! Pericles, the leader of Athens at the time, did not understand that crowding causes plague, and thus the Athenians lost about a third of their population to a plague (pandemic) early in the war. (Pericles died of the plague and subsequently left Athens without good leadership).

Thucydides was as interested in the dynamics as he was in the futility of the war. He was also sensitive to how long-term, intensive warfare attenuated any sense of traditional morality on both sides, to the point when almost any conquest of any city meant the wholesale murder of the surviving males, and the rape and sale of conquered women, a practise that ISIS and the Taliban have perfected during modern times.

But let us focus on the West’s predicament for the moment. Let us consider that perhaps the pandemic brought from China triggered the moral decrepitude that has lost the West the war in Afghanistan. Could it be that pandemics can have major foreign policy fall out?

In Hanson’s book about the war (A War Like No Other), he quotes Thucydides who had this to say about the moral effect of the plague on the Athenians and their government, as he himself had been infected and miraculously survived:

Men did whatever they wished. They easily now dared to try what in the past they had done in private, inasmuch as they were seeing the rapid change that happened to those who were once well off suddenly dying while those formerly poor taking over their possessions. So, the citizens felt it better to spend quickly and to live for pleasure, deeming both their bodies and their possessions as things of a day.

Careful adherence to what was known as honour was popular with no one, inasmuch as it was doubtful whether anyone would be spared to attain it; instead, it was generally felt that enjoying things in the here and now, and all that profited that, was both honourable and useful. Reverence of the gods or respect for man’s law was neither to restrain anyone.

Hanson comments a few pages later that

…in both Thucydides’ history and Aristophanes’ contemporary comedies, off beat prophets and soothsayers fill the vacuum and find a renaissance during the plague years among a disillusioned populace.

Does any of this sound familiar to today’s citizens of the United States and Canada? Let me point out just a few of the similarities that come to mind.

In the United States, when the virus from China began to decimate the population of the country, President Trump activated “warp speed” to get a vaccine to prevent massive death from the plague. The opposition Democrats did everything to discredit his efforts.

Today, there is now growing evidence of massive election fraud which if detected earlier could have changed the course of the election in favour of Trump. The Supreme Court has refused to follow up on stateside investigations of election fraud, while in Texas elected Democrats fled the state to avoid their duty and legal obligation to vote on a reform bill that would begin to stem the illegal invasion across its southern border.

In Canada, it is as if the opposition Conservatives simply lay down and were walked over. Prime Minister Trudeau and his cabinet have been ruling without due parliamentary procedure since the pandemic began and thus the checks and balances of liberal democracy seem to have disappeared in Canada, symbolized by the recent unlawful arrest and handcuffing of the only true opposition politician in the country, Maxime Bernier. The Conservatives have not defended him.

The State and the police have been in overreach mode, fining citizens outrageous amounts of money for violations of temporary administrative orders which have little legislative or constitutional substance and which change all the time. That is to say, they are arbitrary and against the spirit of the law (In Canada the CBC does not really report these incidents, only the much persecuted and underfunded Rebel Media does).

Under its new, and possibly illegal president (time and history will tell), the United States have just handed over a mountainous central Asian state to its sworn enemies the Taliban who make the ancient Spartans look like nice guys, in Afghanistan, where a man named Osama bin Laden once planned the successful terrorist attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon during 9/11.

As for living for today, both the US and Canadian governments are printing money indiscriminately, causing both inflation and an across the board rise in prices, scarcity of goods, a housing crisis and a subsidized working class unmotivated to man the trades as they make more money on the dole. Thus, people vote with their feet, buy property to fight inflation and make it nearly impossible for young couples to buy a home and start a family.

Meanwhile, during the height of the intermittent lockdowns leaders party, travel and go to restaurants without masks (yes Mr. Newsom and Mr. Kenney). You see, the rules only apply to the simple citizens, not to their leaders. And they really know how to live for today.

But why should anyone care? The Cultural Marxists who now run the mainstream north American and British media tell us that the Judeo Christian and the “straight” nuclear family is evil, and preach a growing alphabet soup of LGBTXQ, multiple gender gibberish that simply and perniciously privileges marginal emotional dispositions and tries to make them mainstream. Just take a good look at the curriculum for social sciences from the Toronto District School Board or the Californian “ethnic studies” curriculum-woke and anti male.

The American Medical Association, and the CDC have hounded any scientist or doctor who disagrees with their proclamations and policies on how to handle the pandemic, while still not holding the Chinese Communist Party fully responsible for allowing the virus to spread around the world, as the CCP knew full well what havoc it would play with its enemies in the West. Under Fauci the US funded the lab that hosted the Wuhan virus, yet he still denies it.

Famous Dr. Fauci has flip flopped so many times that he begins to remind one of Thucydides’ false prophets and soothsayers. These have come to include the media oligarchs, Facebook and Google who now regularly violate the first amendment when it comes to their clients expressing respectful dissent. Perhaps I am being unfair and Bernie Sanders would better qualify as a false (Marxist) prophet, who by the way, lives very, very well.

Canada is no different and flights to and from China are full. Can one trust their medical officers and testing facilities? They have just sentenced one Canadian businessman to death and another to 11 years hard labour for “spying,” because a senior Huawei executive is under luxury house arrest in Vancouver for facilitation of illegal dealings with the terrorist regime in Iran (much nastier than the Spartans or Athenians at their worst).

Then there is the self destructive opening of the Mexican American border, whose sole goal is to fill the United States with so many illegal immigrants, who when finally made legal, will vote in the Democrats for the foreseeable future. There will no longer be a need for them to tamper with election results.

Let us also not forget that competing and self defeating oligarchies were an integral part of the Peloponnesian wars as were disloyal fifth columnists. (New York Times columnists anyone?)

Finally, the number of brazen lies and misrepresentations that crop up when any intellectual or journalist (like Hanson or Carlson) questions the Democratic Party, CNN, NYT, Presidential Press Office’s version of the world. They are either “ not following the science” (especially when they do not support former male weightlifters coming to the Olympics as females) or they are deficient because, of course, they are white, male racists who spread “misinformation.”

Canadians and Americans have elected two unscrupulous political tricksters to lead their countries during this latest defeat in Afghanistan. It is almost as if the two leaders have been asleep and were woken up once the Taliban re-conquered Afghanistan. I sincerely doubt that Biden or Trudeau have ever read Thucydides or Hanson’s book about the Peloponnesian War. Thucydides argued that Pandemics take the moral centre out of the state or the city and there is much evidence that the political rot has been accumulating since the virus hit.

The politically correct crowd in North America and less so in Britain, do not read Thucydides. Why? Because Thucydides is a dead, white, ancient Greek male who told the truth as he saw it, and from which wise men and women have drawn life and death lessons from which to defend what we still call Western civilization. Men like Winston Churchill, who helped our deceased parents win the war against Hitler, just a few short decades ago.

Hanson writes, “Then there are the young opportunists like Alcibiades who survived the plague and who then made havoc of Athens and changed sides.” In the same breath may I mention the Squad, Cortez and company, who will go down in history as the most disloyal, manipulative and mendacious Congresspeople (what is their self defined gender?) in the history of the US and, who would sell off their country to its worse enemies.

As Hanson emphasizes, Traitorous Alcibiades at times helped Athens , Sparta and Persia win the war…” The Squad would rather destroy the Republic than defend it. They are more loyal to America’s enemies. Perhaps that is indeed their goal-to support them from inside the halls of the Republic. I am sure that was what the Persians (the ancestors of today’s Iranians) thought of Alcibiades. I suspect they secretly sympathize with the Taliban.

I am sure that none of the squad have read books by Victor Davis Hanson or, have heard him being interviewed by Tucker Carlson on Fox News. That is because the two are men and also white (They did not choose it. They were born that way. It is just so hard to self identify as “non-white”. Forgive them!)

I do suggest that Israelis read both Hanson and Thucydides and do so with the utmost care. It is in Israel’s interest to do so because most of what is happening today, happened long, long ago, 2400 hundred years ago to be precise, in a small corner of the Mediterranean world, very near Israel, where oligarchic Sparta and its Persian backers fought democratic Athens.

The Athenians lost.

Those of us who identify with the ideals of Athens (and most Israelis do) and fear the despotism of the descendants of today’s Persians (the Iranians and Afghans), cannot afford to make the same errors as did the Athenians, where democracy often descended into overemotional mob rule or oligarchy. We must relearn the lessons of this war, political and military. Hanson is not a bad guide. In truth he is an excellent one.

Israelis really do need to read him. Someone should translate Hanson’s book into Hebrew. Perhaps Yair Lapid?

About the Author
Geoffrey Clarfield is an anthropologist at large. Having spent more than twenty years living and working in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, he offers readers a cross cultural perspective on the pressing issues of our times. He has contributed numerous articles to the National Post, the Globe and Mail, the New York Post, the Brooklyn Rail, the American Thinker, Books in Canada, Minerva Magazine and is a Contributing Editor at the New English Review.