More than any other, the war in Afghanistan is personal to me. I lost a grandson there (pictured above). He was on his second hitch with the Marines – having previously served in Iraq. When he was killed in 2011, I hoped his death would not be in vain.
With President Biden’s announcement that all American troops with be out of Afghanistan on September 11 (a peculiar day to select) — without any discernable benefit or victory for the United States — I have sadly determined that my grandson has, indeed, died in vain.
Not only has Biden announced a date certain for the removal of U.S. troops – something that he should not have telegraphed to the Taliban – he has sent Secretary of State Antony Blinken to urge NATO allies to also withdraw. Maybe that is a diplomatic way of making America not look like such a singular loser.
The only thing missing from this withdrawal is an official document outlining the specific “terms of surrender.” Of course, America never surrenders. We just ignominiously retreat.
Although Biden is just ringing down the curtain on 20 years of conflict in Afghanistan, he is unceremoniously ending what is America’s longest war. That in itself is an obscenity.
The most powerful military in the world – as proclaimed by one President after another – could not bring the Afghan war to a swift and victorious conclusion. It was a “war of attrition” – and my grandson was some of that attrition. But he is not alone in having died in vain.
More than 2000 of our young men and women in uniform have died in Afghanistan. And another 20,000 crippled and wounded. And for what?
What has been the benefit to the United States? Where is the victory after so much loss of life and treasure?
For sure, all those who sacrificed life and limb at the call of America are heroes of the first order. They did what our national leaders asked them to do. It is just a pity – no, a tragedy – that our national leaders never gave a damn about having real purpose and legitimate goals in pursuing the Afghanistan war – or a determination to win the war. We were there fighting just to be fighting. It was a war carried out by ambassadors rather than generals.
Oh, there was a time we were supposed to be defeating the evil Taliban. That would have been a good purpose if we had only implemented that objective – if only we had actually waged a war to defeat them. But the evil Taliban will be there – hating America – after we leave.
The final retreat makes every articulated goal and promise of the past two decades nothing more than shallow rhetoric.
It has pained me to write periodically about America’s sting of losing wars since World War II. This one pains me the most … for obvious reasons.
So, there ‘tis.