We mucked up Afghanistan from the very beginning. Yes, we had to hit them after 9/11. So too, should we have, at the time, punished Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan, though severe sanctions and a threat backed up by a tremendous demonstration of power with very little restraint in Afghanistan, would have, I believe, done the trick. We should have hit them hard, destroyed the regime, handed the U.N. the keys and then walked away, refusing to take any part in the rebuilding effort. (We should have never touched Iraq.)
But that’s not what we did in Afghanistan. Instead, we foolishly followed the footsteps of other empires who tried (and failed) before us to occupy and tame that land which no one asked us to help or tame.
Thomas Jefferson said “All governments derive their just authority from the consent of the governed.” He was right, and we are not the governed of Afghanistan. We hit them for just cause and then screwed it up when we stayed to satiate our own arrogance.
So-called President Trump last night claimed that a rapid withdrawal from Afghanistan would lead to another group of terrorists, such as ISIS coming together to take over the country. To that I say, “Good. Let them try. It beats the heck out of the anonymous lone wolf problem we have right now. Let them take over a geographical spot and then we hit them again.”
Terrorism is largely a made up problem– crazy people have always done crazy things for crazy reasons. That’s why we end up with so many home grown monsters like Tim McVeigh and Ted Kaczynski, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, Dylan Roof and Omar Mateen, just to name a few.
When they begin to take over geographical regions such as they did in Mosul, it makes them not only tantamount to nation states, but they give us targets we can hit.
Continued occupation and so-called nation building in Afghanistan is a fool’s errand that can only result in more death, more frustration among those who would fight to throw off the occupiers, and a greater chance of creating a desire for vengeance on the part of an Afghani citizen or sympathizer whose friends or relatives are targets of our occupying soldiers regardless of justification. We need to get out, let them have whatever civil unrest is required for them to maintain their own government or form some sort of governance as should seem right to them and then decide, if another terrorist organization should arise, a strategy for destroying it. It’s not that I don’t see us going back.
It’s that there’s no end mission in staying and our military should never be put into or left in harm’s way without a clearly defined mission, strategy for winning, and a clear measuring stick for what winning means. Neither George Bush, Barack Obama, nor Donald Trump has gotten Afghanistan right because none of them has had the intestinal fortitude it takes to risk the political fallout of a humanitarian crisis or the rise of a new enemy that comes from making the tough choice to do so for the good of a longer term strategy that hits our enemies when we can see them and allows governments we may disagree with to rise up in the footsteps of our actions.
I am both willing and resolved, should I win that office and find America still fighting in Afghanistan, to do so and deal with the consequences of making such a choice. It’s time and has been time for a long time, to bring our people home.
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