Going out is as important as charging
As we witness the chaotic withdrawal of US troops and a US presence in Afghanistan after nearly two decades of occupation imposed by a nation that is literally as far apart as it gets on a ladder of societal freedom and justice, it hurts in the belly and in the mind. . What is the withdrawal plan? What are the parameters that allow the departure not only of Americans but of those who fear for their lives if they stay? Is there a guarantee for those who live outside Kabul? Is it possible to extend the withdrawal period in the event of unforeseen circumstances, for example if people cannot obtain the appropriate documents to leave, whether they live in the capital or in one of the other regions of the country?
I know it’s already old news to compare the rampant withdrawal to the Saigon disaster 46 years earlier, however for those of us at the age of being eligible for induction into the military for fighting for a war that could not be rationalized in any way raises the same feelings of pain. The nauseating feeling that my country was lowering the last indignities about a culture we have never truly understood or appreciated and which has cost us over 58,000 American lives is as deep today as it was then. If we gave people our word, we wouldn’t give up on them, no agreement is valid that abrogates this responsibility.
Vietnam was a disaster from start to finish, but the chaotic withdrawal was the last straw exposing the indignity of a nation that simply could not cope with the reality of the fighting in a country they could not knew nothing. Even then, we still made the effort. When put into context, operations Babylift and Frequent wind enabled the rescue of some 130,000 Vietnamese nationals and their families. No one is even suggesting that a rescue effort at these levels is underway in any of the scenarios currently under consideration.
The ultimate measure of honor is not to boast, we will be there to protect those who risked the lives of American soldiers and to leave no one behind, but rather to keep that promise if circumstances dictate the need to do so. . That the Afghan citizens who lent their knowledge and understanding of their culture to an occupying army most certainly did so in return for a commitment that they and their families would be covered in the event of withdrawal. If we turn our backs on this promise, we not only seem defeated, but so much smaller in the minds of those who watch us. And the whole world is watching!
I vividly remember seeing the Soviet army leaving Afghanistan in 1989 and noticing at the time that this was tantamount to our shameful exit from Vietnam. I remember asking if the superpowers would ever learn lessons about engaging military opponents in guerrilla tactics where no appreciation of terrain, politics, history and culture, or the dignity of those who are ready to die for their country do seem to be taken into account. military planning which tends to place sheer firepower above all other considerations. And here we are again, what a waste.
Our initial rationalization after 9/11 was to attack and eliminate the roots of international terrorism: Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda, ISIS.T. The need to respond to the attack on the World Trade Center provided both a justification and a remedy for the senseless attacks that were being launched against countries around the world. No one would have argued then or even now that a demonstrative attack on a terrorist network spreading like wildfire was not justified. Over the years, the United States has led an international effort to destroy terrorism and has largely succeeded in its counterattack. However, our commitment of military troops has turned into a nation-building effort despite protests to the contrary from successive presidential administrations. So what should be done now? When did the mission change?
The most important thing we all need to focus on is how to speed up what may be the most ambitious rescue effort ever. The honor of the nation is at stake, whatever your party or your political inclinations. We are right to leave Afghanistan and we should have done so years ago. However, it should have accompanied a solid plan that at least had a prospect of success. Clearly, the ultimate and overwhelming failure reflected in the haste with which US-trained troops gave up their weapons and surrendered to the prospects of a return to medieval society suggests that we have done a very bad job. long term investment. It’s either bad intelligence, bad planning, or maybe both, but it doesn’t reflect well what appears to be a headlong decision. That the genesis of the current agreement should have its gestation in a negotiation elaborated by the previous administration is not surprising but normal and unimportant given the gravity of the situation.
We need to sufficiently identify the goals and objectives of the military engagement, stick to those identifiable outcomes, and include withdrawal commitments made to those who believe the circumstances warrant protection (those whose lives are at risk once our protection is withdrawn). ) and leave. Are they solving these problems at West Point or at the US Army War College?
The military leadership and the White House must undertake a massive and most likely painful after-action report that puts into perspective the withdrawal goals, objectives, tactics and protocols that must be required before our next excursion. Lives are at stake, as is the protection of our democratic and human ideals as a nation and the proficiency with which our overwhelming military might is used only in the most dire consequences must show that we are respectful of the needs of others. and protectors. of the oppressed.
Being cautious about participating in military excursions does not need to reflect isolationism, just as staying too long in our utility does not necessarily reflect our goodwill. There are enough issues affecting not only the nation but the world that will require cooperation, not confrontation. We must strive to focus more on the former and less on the latter. It just can never happen again!