2,300 more lives lost. 2,300 other American families in mourning. Twenty years at a cost of $ 2.5 trillion. Why?
US forces have been sent to Afghanistan to deny Al Qaeda’s hideouts and exploitation platforms. It’s rather ironic, since Osama bin Laden was found and killed in Pakistan.
Of course, America did not attack Pakistan. It solved Bin Laden’s problem in another way, which required patience, persistence, and tactical skills, not one that required a public display of machismo and beatings to the chest.
After the September 11 attacks, George W. Bush and the Americans were determined to make someone pay. The Taliban in Afghanistan seemed like an easy target, after all, they lived a middle-aged lifestyle and some al-Qaeda members had spent time there. They could easily be defeated.
Dubya convinced all members of Congress except one to give him the power to attack Afghanistan. Only Barbara Lee from California refused.
You would think that attacking Afghans might be reckless, given that they survived the Russians and the British before them, but when a hornet’s nest is disturbed, someone is going to get stung. And America was more than confused.
As expected, the Taliban waged a guerrilla war and, as we saw this week, won through attrition. Bush tried to win but has not yet been able to stubbornly hold out. Obama did the same.
Trump, to his credit, tried to end the endless war. He got the ball rolling, sending a signal for the Taliban in America to withdraw. Biden pushed the ball faster, so fast that in fact the Afghans were overwhelmed by the Taliban within weeks.
Add Afghanistan to a list of wars that shouldn’t have happened.
But how was the Afghan government so easily defeated? I don’t know, because I am neither a military tactician nor a political scientist.
I do know, however, that Afghanistan had an army of 300,000 and 20 years to build a military organization. I know the military had military equipment worth billions of dollars and the help of military advisers.
I can only conclude that the Afghans lacked one of two things: competent leadership or the will to fight. I think it was the latter.
Again, I don’t know the details, but the Afghan soldiers withdrew en masse. Many threw off their uniforms and put on civilian clothes. Others gave a damn about Dodge and crossed borders. Rather than hitting Taliban trucks equipped with weapons, Afghan Air Force pilots flew their planes to neighboring Uzbekistan.
A therapist will likely tell you that someone with a crippling disease must first want to change before change can occur. Collectively, too few Afghans cared enough to effect lasting change.
America has lost another war by not understanding its enemy. Thousands of Americans have given their lives or their limbs responding to their government’s unfounded call.
Many Afghans will also suffer, especially women. They will soon be covered from head to toe when male relatives accompany them to the market to buy food. They will spend their days cleaning and cooking, since they and their daughters will be prohibited from going to school.
The men who served as interpreters and assistants for US forces will likely be captured and beheaded. Those who have clung to fleeing planes will likely experience the same fate.
Government officials and their families, such as the president and heads of the Goats and Sheep Department and the Opium Poppy Development Department, will be granted asylum in America. If history repeats itself, they will be living comfortably with millions of dollars that somehow ended up in hidden bank accounts.
To those Americans who served in Afghanistan and to the families who lost loved ones, know this: You did your duty. You have not served in vain, for taking responsibility as the defender of your country is in itself noble. You cannot control which battlegrounds or missions you are assigned to.
Failure in Afghanistan lies with American leaders, and since Americans elect their leaders, the fault lies with those who voted for them. Hoping that we will do better next time is nice but unrealistic, as the majority of Americans elect leaders out of emotion rather than reason. It is our perpetual curse.
– Community columnist Ray Buursma is a resident of the Netherlands. Contact him at [email protected]