Travesty in Afghanistan leaves us where we were 20 wasted years ago

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Twenty years…and for what

With the fall of Kabul, the war in Afghanistan comes to an ignominious end, the country exactly as it was when we invaded in 2001: in the grip of fanatical Islamists who rape and persecute women, practice medieval punishment and harbor terrorists who plot to destroy the Western world. 

The families of the 2,312 American military personnel who died there, and the 20,066 who were wounded have every right to feel bitterness and anger. 

Yes, we killed Osama bin Laden (in Pakistan). But otherwise, over three administrations, we barely articulated a mission beyond the “defeat” of al Qaeda. The Taliban were never vanquished. The Afghan army crumbled. The democracy we helped build was ground into dust as the president fled the nation

Afghanistan was the forgotten war from the start. The Bush administration quickly moved to Iraq. Obama didn’t care; Trump even less. Maybe it never would have worked, even with more resources, planning and leadership. If this century has taught America anything, it’s that Democracy cannot be imposed on others. But it is a tragedy that the glimmer of hope provided — particularly to the young girls who could finally go to school — is now gone. What was the point? 

President Biden says he “inherited” President Trump’s withdrawal plans, but that is a lie. He could have taken more time, tried to at least secure the capital, and left a small peacekeeping force. Instead, we pulled out in the dead of night, so quickly we had to send troops back just to make sure our embassy was safely evacuated. It’s as humiliating an end as the rooftop scramble in Saigon in 1975. 

Taliban fighters take control of Afghan presidential palace after the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021.
AP Photo/Zabi Karimi

It is a travesty that Biden left behind allies, such as translators, to their doom, and we must continue to do everything we can to get them out. That Biden’s administration misjudged this entire situation, the readiness of the army and the speed of the Taliban, shows his State Department without judgment or sense, but we knew that from their insistence on returning to the Iran deal. 

Afghanistan will go down in American history as a failure of a similar magnitude as Vietnam. Where this differs is in its legacy. We don’t know yet what new threats might rise from Afghanistan, what new 9/11s will be planned there. 

The world is less safe today, President Biden. That’s on you.

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