I sit here with a heavy heart, swarmed with mixed emotions as I watch the fall of Afghanistan. Most of you know I spent a career in the Army, dedicating half of that career to the War on Terror. I’ve watched as friends fought and died, others came home scarred and disfigured. Still others never overcame the mental demons haunting them.
For the civilian world, war cannot be understood. Most veterans won’t tell you what happened over there. Partially because you weren’t there, aren’t part of that brotherhood. Partially because you don’t really want to know the horrors combat soldiers endure. Best not say anything.
Yet I feel the need to get this off my chest. My heart hurts for the Afghan people, for the men and women who strapped on a rifle and headed into harm’s way, for those of us who dedicated blood, sweat, and tears for two decades.
Our mission in Afghanistan was never to fight the Taliban. We went in after Al Qaida and Bin Laden. Hell, Bush 2 even told the Taliban to stand aside and we wouldn’t mess with them. They refused. They paid for it. I was there in mid 2002, when our original intent was still in action.
The Afghans are a hard people. Probably the hardest I’ve ever met. Even the children. Until you have a 7 yr old boy pointing a loaded AK-47 at you and saying ‘hey Mr., fuck you’ you don’t know hard.
I’ve long thought our mission there was complete. That it was time to come home. But this? The complete and utter collapse of a corrupt government, the total surrender of a trained and equipped army, and a systemic failure on both the President and the Pentagon’s parts have resulted in the destruction of everything we had secured.
Close to 20,000 Afghans who worked with us, bled with us, hurt with us in the hopes of building a better country will most likely be executed in the coming weeks and months. The Taliban has always been ruthless. There will be no mercy. There never has been.
Women will be forced back into their burkhas, girls over the age of 8 forbidden from an education, a voice. Terrorism will return. Al Qaida or their successors will regroup and become emboldened by the current adminstration’s lack of balls. Its an inevitability. Our allies will think long and hard before coming to our aid ever again. People we could have helped will reel from the sting of betrayal. Is this how America treats its friends?
Our credibility as nation is shot. Our President is on vacation. His press secretary actually has an ‘out of office’ response for her emails. The generals in their lofty towers remain impotent. Perhaps they should focus more on warfighting then political maneuvering.
This is a dark day for the Western World. And now, I at least understand how so many Vietnam veterans felt as they watched those last frantic helicopter flights out of the US embassy in Saigon all those years ago.