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I know almost nothing about fighting a war. In earlier times, it seems that wars usually had two sides; both sides knew that the other was the enemy. Both sides knew what they were fighting for. Both sides knew there was a plan to go in, to fight, to win, to leave. But who is the enemy in Afghanistan? The Taliban? al Qaeda? Our leaders?
What is this “thing” in Afghanistan? Does anyone remember the original plan for going in? Who decided we should stay once al Qaeda was “defeated?” There are some who say we didn’t want to nation-build; others say that nation-building is the only way we would have stayed. These were an illiterate people who couldn’t read an instruction manual or a newspaper headline, but they were desperate to rid themselves of the Taliban. We wanted them to be free of these barbarians, too. Was that our purpose—to free the Afghans of these monsters, who could hide for months or years until their opportunity to raid and savage the country re-appeared? And what about the women and girls who have had a taste of freedom? Will they now be tortured and killed because they now understand what it means to live free? Must those memories be destroyed?
What do we now call this debacle in Afghanistan? Was it a foolish dream to believe we could leave quickly? How many people are at risk? How many people will die? How many soldiers are wondering what in the world they are doing as their leaders flail about, hoping a miracle will appear?
What is this “thing”? What do we call it? We are running out of words: debacle, nightmare, destruction, chaos, desperation, insanity—is there one word that will suffice? Or are there not enough words to express this “thing” that we are watching unfold in real-time? What will we call this “thing” years from now?
Our illustrious leaders are saying that we will not leave until we free each and every American (and maybe our Afghan allies?) from the country. They tell us that the Taliban will not stop us, but everyone except our leaders knows that hope is a delusion. They say that commercial airlines are stepping up to remove people, but how will these people get to the airport? Where is the strategy? Where is the will?
Where is the truth?
God help us and the Afghan people.Published in