America’s rapid abandonment of Afghanistan will go down in the history books as a bungled mess on par with our withdrawal of Vietnam in the 1970s. This drawdown cheered on in some aspects by both political parties led to a one-and-a-half-week takeover by the Taliban, which experts thought would happen on a timeline of about six months. Scholars, historians, and war colleges will analyze it for what it was, a lost war with a mistaken identity. Most Americans too busy with their own lives have little understanding of the events that have transpired there in the last 20 years as is customary with the “in one ear-out the other” standard of most first-world countries. I have been to Afghanistan twice with the 101st Airborne Division, and a part of me will forever be there in the lowlands and in the mountains where my brothers died.
I always had a more elevated understanding of our mission there, not because I was different but because I believed in it. I do not think we intended on setting up a puppet government to mirror our own, as many may allude. We planned to help a once-great country shed the burden of the Taliban and embrace Western or modern ideologies. Many of their people wanted this, but most just wanted peace. Our entrance into the country in 2001 was because the government of the Islamic Emirate was allowing Al Qaeda to thrive unchecked in their country. Al Qaeda, who was responsible for the 9/11 attacks in New York, would be punished with the full force of the United States.
Terrorism is a complicated business, cut the head off the snake, and another grows in its place. That second head may go by another name, but the core mission is the same, “destroy the infidel.” This war cry has outlasted nations and will likely never die. So, we must ask ourselves how much should we destroy in reparation for the attacks on 9/11? Some might say we have risked enough, many lives and trillions of dollars, but is that all there is to it?
“Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception.” – Niccolo` Machiavelli.
Seventy years post World War II left us with military bases in Germany, Italy, and Japan. There is still a significant military presence in Korea post that war in the 1950s. The United States has no problem keeping an occupying force in strategic locations to protect its interests, so then why should Afghanistan be any different? Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, and Pakistan are the literal breeding places of radical Islamic terrorism, and without a strong arm holding them accountable, it will not change. With fanatic leadership in place, unafraid to utilize weapons against the innocent more bloodshed will occur. Dual citizens of Afghanistan and America stuck in the country today have the most to fear, and I am afraid of what may happen in the next few weeks.
The thing is, brutality never leaves an extremist, and their translation and understanding of the Quran will not be altered. They will become modern in their tactics and craftier in their political dealings, not unlike the Iranians have done for the last 45 years. My brothers and I saw that brutality firsthand, children blown up by IEDs, maimed, injured, becoming orphans. Collateral damage brings fear, and with fear, they become stronger. Compassion does not lie in the same bed as the merciless, and we will see that unfold just as it has in Syria and Libya. Terrorists are no strangers to covering up massacres, just enough for the predominant world powers to turn a blind eye. Mark my words, public executions, stoning, and other brutal pieces of the Islamic Emirates judicial playbook will come back. It is an easy playbook to follow as it has remained unaltered in their world for centuries.