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Deep in the dark night of July 2, 2021, America betrayed the only friends we had in Afghanistan. President Joe Biden ordered the withdrawal of our last troops from Bagram Air Force Base – by stealth, like thieves in the night – leaving behind the Afghan guides, translators, guards, and other local staff who made our limited successes in Afghanistan possible. We betrayed those Afghanis who put their own lives – and the lives of their families – on the line for us. They risked their lives every day in order to assist and protect our troops, and then we refused to secure their safety when we left. Instead, we abandoned them to the cruel injustice of the brutal Taliban, who see them as nothing more than traitors and will treat them accordingly.
After a 20 year presence, the Americans simply turned off the electricity at the base, and flew from Bagram to Kabul airport in the middle of the night. It was only after they were safely in Kabul that they let the Afghan military commanders know that they had left Bagram. Even the base commander, Brigadier Mir Asadullah Kohistani, did not know that the Americans had left the base until 7 o’clock the following morning. Neither were the Afghani soldiers guarding the base informed that the people they were supposed to be protecting were no longer there.
We gave them no warning, and we did not evacuate them or give them any protection against the horror that will inevitably come next for them. They assisted the Americans, and now they face torture and death. As a result of this treachery, hordes of Afghani soldiers have already rushed to surrender to the Taliban all around the country. And in neighboring Tajikistan, the military has given refuge to more than a thousand Afghani soldiers who managed to escape across the border. This does not bode well for the future of a country that is steeped in the traditions of tribalism and is ripe for the Taliban to gain control and push it back into the dark ages.
If the U.S. was ever successful in bringing Afghanistan into the 21st century, that is now lost forever. One Afghan soldier was quoted as saying, “In one night they lost all the goodwill of 20 years by leaving the way they did, in the night, without telling the Afghan soldiers who were outside patrolling the area”.
We went into Afghanistan to track down Osama bin Laden after 9/11, and then we stayed . . . and stayed. We tried to impose Western mores on an ancient tribal culture, and we failed. The tribalism that defined Afghanistan for centuries will soon come roaring back. The women will once again be relegated to their subservient position as chattel, and the children will grow up abused and without hope.
The twenty-year war is now, it seems, over – at the cost of more than 2,300 American lives. Young lives, precious lives. And for what? The Taliban will soon destroy all that may have once been gained. And worse, China will now take advantage of the situation and push its way into the country – to strip the precious rare earth from under the rugged Afghanistan terrain and enslave its people as it destroys their land.
American policy in Afghanistan has been imposed on this tribal nation for twenty years through Republican and Democrat administrations in Washington, and it has been bad policy from the beginning.
At some point, the leaders who design and apply such policy should be held accountable for the damage we do in the foreign countries that we try to mold to our democratic ideals. And now that our own version of democracy – the bedrock principles that were the underpinnings of our nation for over two hundred years – are under attack here at home, we have much to be accountable for. Imposing a corrupted policy abroad should be our last priority.
The Biden administration has much to learn from our 245-year history, and from the great men and women who forged our democratic principles into a great nation. But it is unlikely that they have learned anything at all, and the corruption that they criticize in others runs rampant throughout the halls of our government in Washington. Our troops have been forced to leave Afghanistan in shame, our allies have been betrayed, and yet the Biden Administration considers it a victory. It is hardly that. Not only have they betrayed their allies, but they have now opened the door to Chinese aggression against a country that has no defenses against them. And China will be as brutal as it needs to be.
There are cogent arguments against our having stayed so long once the al Qaeda threat had passed, but ending our presence; there should be done with honor, not shame. We have betrayed our allies and brought dishonor on our fiercely proud military. History is not likely to look kindly upon how quickly our stealthy evacuation has become a badge of dishonor and shame.
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