Afghanistan is a mess. But let’s look at 20 years of failure before placing blame.
We went to Afghanistan to rid it of al-Qaida and get Osama bin Laden. That was not accomplished in a timely manner, as George W. Bush and Dick Cheney concocted the story that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So we spent trillions of dollars, the lives of our military and the lives of Iraqi citizens trying to find them. Nothing was found. The only thing this military excursion did was get rid of the buffer with Iran and give rise to ISIS. So then, it went from the original mission to trying “nation-building.”
This continued under Barack Obama, with more troops sent to Afghanistan. Then entered Donald Trump. He campaigned on ending the war. See how far that got?
The deal that the last administration made with the Taliban, signed in late February 2020, stated that, in the first 100 days, we would reduce troops from 13,000 to 8,600 and would close five bases. Was anyone evacuated then? At the same time, it released 5,000 Taliban, ISIS and al-Qaida fighters from prison. Trump continued troop withdrawals, despite advice from Mark Esper, leaving only 3,500 troops in the country when Joe Biden came to office. Was anyone evacuated during that time?
In April, Trump called Biden’s plan “a wonderful and positive thing to do.” The Republican National Committee ran Trump’s deal on its website, until quietly removing it Aug. 15.
During the entire last administration, the working of our immigration system was brought to a halt. Even former Pence national security adviser Olivia Troye said that Trump had four years to help Afghan allies leave the country, but Stephen Miller’s “racist hysteria” blocked it from happening. He also had a year to get Americans out.
In July, the House passed legislation to increase the special immigration visas for just this purpose, only to see the bill tied up in the Senate, just like so many others.
Over the course of 20 years, we have spent $2.3 trillion, have lost 2,400 lives and have seen countless life-changing injuries to our troops. This, to see the Afghan military fold in a week and their president flee.
There is some resistance in Afghanistan, in the Panjshir Valley and in Baghlan province. Personally, I have decided that we armed and trained the wrong people for 20 years. We should have been arming the women of Afghanistan. At least they are willing to fight. I’m not a fan of Vladimir Putin, but he did state a fact: “You cannot import democracy.” It must come from within.
Doris W. Draper