Dogs are not people. Now, I love my dogs and couldn’t imagine life on our little farm without them. But when we establish false equivalencies, we don’t elevate dogs; we degrade humanity. And that’s what we’re doing with the dogs of war left behind by the Biden administration in Afghanistan.
It is unclear how many dogs were stranded at Kabul airport when the last US flight departed. It’s also unclear how many Americans were stranded. And how many weapons were left. And how much cash…in fact a lot of the disastrous withdraw by the Biden administration is unclear, first and foremost being: why did it happen this way at all?
How did no one in the military look at the stash of weapons and helicopters and Mraps and Humvees and ammo and artillery and radios and say, ‘Maybe we should take this with us?’ Or if they did, how did someone give the order ‘Nah, it’s cool, just leave it behind’?
When we moved last year, we left behind a roll of toilet paper. What I didn’t leave is my great grandmother’s silver, my checkbooks and my organization’s five-year strategy and fundraising plan. Nothing of value. Nothing operational. The Biden administration left behind enough to make the Taliban one of the world’s best equipped militaries. Why?
There’s either such an over-abundance of equipment, that a few billion dollars isn’t worth the effort. Or there’s such a deep indifference to the value of money that no one could be bothered. Or such a deep moral relativism that one speculates, ‘why shouldn’t the 7th-century sharia-law barbarians of the Taliban have the same “stuff” that we do?’
It’s that, isn’t it? It’s the lack of hierarchy. It’s the neoliberalism of secretary of state Antony Blinken who, in his press conference, called on the Taliban to form an ‘inclusive government’. It’s that post-Christian belief that evil does not really exist even as American Blackhawk helicopters are seen flying across Kabul with dangling bodies.
So, getting back to the thesis here, how is anyone surprised the Biden team left behind the dogs? Of course they left behind the dogs. They left behind the people. They left behind the weapons of war which will be turned against the people, Afghan and American, in a matter of moments.
John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesperson, claims the dogs photographed were not military dogs, but rescue dogs not in our care. I’m not sure I buy that explanation considering what we did leave behind. Even if this is factual, why leave them locked in cages? Why not let them go?
Dogs are resilient animals and, left to their own, they can survive in the wild. Go to any undeveloped country and see the stray dogs roaming city streets out in the country. They protect themselves by forming packs and following the alpha. They hunt. But when humans domesticate them, when we take them out of the natural environment and force them to adapt to new surroundings, we assume responsibility to keep the dog alive.
A dog in the house can’t hunt. A dog in an apartment all day while the humans are on Zoom calls must be fed. A domesticated dog must be socialized. That’s the role the human assumes in getting a dog. That’s why it’s heartbreaking to see how many people got a dog during the lockdown, and then returned it like a tuxedo they no longer needed. Those military dogs were taken from nature for a purpose. They are now at the mercy of humans. And humans abandoned them. It’s a violation of our humanity.
The dogs of war abandoned by the Biden administration aren’t a surprise. In fact, I think this move was quite expected. A nation which stops acting like the Judeo-Christian nation it is, which stops espousing the hierarchy of values, which starts denying the science of biology and the truth of ontology — that nation is bound to forget the obligation they have to the vulnerable, be they Americans left at the gates of Kabul Airport, Afghans threatened by the Taliban, or even dogs locked in cages.
Our humanity has been exposed and it is wanting. What Joe Biden did in Afghanistan, to both people and animals, is proof of how morally bankrupt we have become as a society.
If we can’t act like humans towards dogs, we won’t treat other humans with kindness and respect, or care for the elderly and infirm, the weak and vulnerable, the marginalized and oppressed.
Joe Biden ran on ‘a battle for America’s soul’. He said it over and over again and even printed it on his bus. Yet the soul of this administration left untold Americans to the mercy of a better-equipped Taliban army and the military dogs locked in cages. If that’s the soul of America, then we’re doomed.