Nobody. Not the British. Not the Soviets. And no, not the Americans. Afghans are probably the fiercest and most tenacious fighters in the world, and they want to be left alone to do their thing. Given that and our current withdrawal from the country after 20-ish years I have some random thoughts on the pull-out from Afghanistan in brief recap format…
I do not consider going into Afghanistan a mistake. Given the circumstances behind 9/11 we had to. Our back was pushed into a corner and if we hadn’t we’d have lost all credibility, and I believe encouraged even more and bigger attacks. We would have been viewed as weak by our friends and enemies alike. A country can not respond to the bombing of a nightclub or similar and deal with, but a country cannot ignore an attack of that size and be seen seriously in the world. Not a country with the ability to respond.
Expectations (Ours) and Objectives
That being said, many people, including myself, knew we’d eventually lose from Day One. We might obtain our objective in killing bin Laden, but we’d still lose. Reference the first paragraph. We still had to go in, though.
Now, we did eventually get bin Laden, and many people, again including myself, felt that was the time to start winding down then, pulling out two years later at the most. A proper pull-out, in my estimation, would take a year minimum, and two years maximum, to deal with equipment, an orderly evacuation of important people, etc.
Expectations (Theirs) and the Pull-Out
Then President Donald Trump, roughly a year ago, struck a deal with The Taliban, shutting out the official government, for us to leave the country. Ask yourself, why was Mr Trump negotiating with the Taliban unless we all knew they were the ones really in charge? We then reduced troop numbers and the Taliban continued to attack. Why was anyone surprised by this?
Now, is the current pull-out going well? No, it is not. A lot of people are going to be left behind and suffer serious horrendous consequences, especially girls and women. Some of it has already started.
I am put-off by the clear lack of planning and coordination on the part of the Biden administration, but let’s get real… the day to start organizing a pull-out was the day Trump announced the deal, not a year later. The lack of coordination and poor logistics spans two administrations equally. If you are casting blame in either direction regarding the pull-out you are being a partisan hack.
The failures we’re witnessing now in Afghan society is on the non-Taliban Afghan people, the official government and security people. I’m sorry, but it’s been TWENTY… YEARS!!! We’ve done and offered a lot, and their failure has a lot to do with their own corruption, etc. We set them up with everything, the finest training and great equipment, and they’d still defect and run. There’s nothing more we could do.
I understand many Afghan people feel we abandoned them. Maybe we gave them false hope. I can see why they would think that way, but at the same time I do not. We gave them twenty years of every tool necessary to build a strong lasting society, it was their own people who let them down. Their own leaders and security abandoned them.
I am not open to the standard and popular “America always sucks” chatter at this point. We’re not blameless in history, sure, but neither are we deserving of sole blame, and we have done a great deal to help, it’s simply no longer our fight. All non-Taliban Afghans will suffer, especially girls and women, and I do care, but I also care about Americans who have lost sons/daughters, and brothers/sisters, and husbands/wives, and fathers/mothers… or who would lose them if we continued. I’ve had enough. We need to stop sacrificing for a country that cared so little for itself it folded completely in less than two weeks. It should be obvious if we stayed another ten years the end result would still have been the same, only we’d have continued to sacrifice more of our own people.