April 14, President Joe Biden announced his decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Public opinion polls at the time showed significant public support for Biden’s decision. A Quinnipiac poll in May found 62% of the public supported withdrawal. The Chicago Council Survey conducted a poll from July 7-26 that found 70% supported the decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan by September 11. A CBS News poll from August 18-20 found 63% approval of the U.S. removing troops from Afghanistan.
DISLIKING THE WAY WITHDRAWAL WAS HANLDED
Notwithstanding public support for pulling out of Afghanistan, the public has not been so supportive on how it was executed. An NBC News poll showed a low 25% of Americans approve of the way Biden handled the Afghanistan withdrawal. A CBS News poll found that 74% said the removal of the troops had been handled badly by the U.S. 67% said that Biden did not have a clear plan for evacuating American civilians.
An August 13 to 16 Morning Consult/Politico poll showed that 31% of registered voters approve of Biden’s handling of Afghanistan, while 57% said at the time of the poll said that the withdrawal was not going well. A USA Today/Suffolk poll shows a 27% approval rating for Biden’s handling of Afghanistan.
President Biden’s overall approval rating also has taken a hit as a result of the way the evacuation was handled. A Gallup Poll taken from August 2 to 17 showed that Biden has a 49% approval rating because of the handling of the withdrawal, the lowest of his administration.
On August 16, President Joe Biden said he made the right call to pull American troops out of Afghanistan but Taliban’s swift seizure of Kabul unfolded faster than he expected. Biden emphasized he was honoring the commitment he made when he ran for president to bring the military involvement to an end. Biden said Afghan officials had assured him Afghan forces would fight the insurgents.
President Biden had this to say:
“I stand squarely behind my decision. … The truth is unfolded more quickly than we had anticipated. … [the withdrawal has been] hard and messy – and yes, far from perfect. … [ Afghanistan President Ashraf] Ghani insisted the Afghan forces would fight, but obviously he was wrong. … American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves. … We gave them every chance to determine their own future. We could not provide them with the will to fight for that future.”
On August 16, the same day Biden made his remarks, President Ashraf Ghani could not flee the country fast enough as the Afghanistan capital of Kabul was being overtaken by Taliban fighters. One report had Ghani stuffing bags and bags of cash in his plane. Ghani and his family fled to the United Arab Emirates where they were welcomed on humanitarian grounds, no doubt to live the remaining years of his life.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg placed the blame squarely on the Afghan national government for the stunning and swift Taliban takeover and said:
“Despite our considerable investment and sacrifice over two decades, the collapse was swift and sudden. There are many lessons to be learned. … Ultimately the Afghan political leadership failed to stand up to the Taliban and achieve the peaceful solution that Afghans desperately wanted.”
TWENTY YEAR WAR ENDS
Three weeks before the last US troops left the country, the mission for the US military was to evacuate American citizens and at-risk Afghans who helped U.S. troops and were desperate to leave the country. The Taliban takeover took a matter of weeks and not months that had been predicted. According to news reports, more than 122,000 people from Afghanistan were relocated since the end of July, including 5,400 American citizens.
On Thursday, August 31, the Pentagon announced that the last U.S. troops had left Afghanistan, ending America’s longest war. In a briefing General Kenneth F. McKenzie, the head of the U.S. Central Command said:
“Every single U.S. service member is out of Afghanistan; I can say that with absolute certainty.”
McKenzie announced that the last U.S. flight out of Afghanistan left at 3:29 p.m. ET, August 31. . The heads of the State Department and Defense Department teams were among the last to leave: Chargé d’Affaires Ross Wilson and Major General Chris Donahue. The withdrawal occurred nearly 20 years after the U.S. military first entered Afghanistan after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
DER FÜHRER REPUBLICAN SHILLS SOUND OFF
Kentucky Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell blasted President Joe Biden for his plan to withdraw from Afghanistan, calling it “one of the worst foreign policy decisions in American history.” During an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” the Kentucky Republican told host Chris Wallace that the decision to leave the country after a nearly 20-year time span was worse than the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, when the city of Saigon fell to communist forces of the People’s Army of Vietnam and the Viet Cong.
“We’re looking at the exit … our heroic military is doing the best they can with a horrible policy decision. This is one of the worst foreign policy decisions in American history, much worse than Saigon. … After we left Saigon, there weren’t Vietnamese terrorists who were planning on attacking us here at home. … We leave behind exactly what we went in to solve 20 years ago, and I fear for the future and continuing the war on terror.”
South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has this to say:
“This decision will haunt us for decades. We’re less safe as a nation, the likelihood of an attack coming from Afghanistan now is through the roof. Radical Islam just got a shot of steroids. … If you knew you were going to leave, why didn’t you plan for it better?”
When asked about the Trump administration’s 2018 move to free Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Graham said that the previous administration would have some blame to bear. Still Graham defended his Der Führer Trump and said that Trump tendered withdrawal agreement was “condition-based.“ (Que the vomiting.)
This coming from the 2 most prominent Der Führer Republican Senator’s who refused to hold Der Führer Trump responsible for instigating and promoting the January 6 invasion of the United States Capitol by Der Führer terrorists that forced both of them to flee the Senate Chambers to protect their own skins from an angry mob of Trump supporters.
THE STAGGERING COST OF THE AFGHANISTAN WAR
On August 16, 2021, Forbes Magazine published an article written by Forbes staff writers Christopher Helman and Hank Tucker entitled “The war in Afghanistan cost $300 Million Per Day For 20 years, with big bills yet to come”. Forbes reported:
“In the 20 years since September 11, 2001, the United States has spent more than $2 trillion on the war in Afghanistan. That’s $300 million dollars per day, every day, for two decades. Or $50,000 for each of Afghanistan’s 40 million people. In baser terms, Uncle Sam has spent more keeping the Taliban at bay than the total net worth of Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bill Gates and the 30 richest billionaires in America, combined.
Those headline numbers include $800 billion in direct war-fighting costs and $85 billion to train the vanquished Afghan army, which folded [like a cheap suit] in the weeks since the Pentagon’s sudden early July closure of Bagram Air Force Base eliminated the promise of air support against the advancing Taliban. U.S. taxpayers have been giving Afghan soldiers $750 million a year in payroll. All told, Brown University’s Costs of War Project estimates the total spending at $2.26 trillion.
And the costs are even greater in terms of lives lost. There have been 2,500 U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan, and nearly 4,000 more U.S. civilian contractors killed. That pales beside the estimated 69,000 Afghan military police, 47,000 civilians killed, plus 51,000 dead opposition fighters. The cost so far to care for 20,000 U.S. casualties has been $300 billion, with another half-trillion or so expected to come.”
On August 16, 2021, the Associated Press (AP) reported the following sobering loss of life for the 20 years of the Afghanistan War:
Roughly 1 out of every 4 Americans have been born since the 2001 attacks plotted by al-Qaida leaders who were sheltered in Afghanistan
2,448 American service members were killed in Afghanistan through April.
More than 20,000 US soldiers have been injured according to an Aug 16, 2021 BBC report. (https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-58230075)
66,000 Afghan national military and police were killed
51,191 Taliban and other opposition fighters killed
47,245 Afghan civilians killed
3,846 U.S. contractors killed
1,144 other allied service members, including from other NATO member states killed
444 aid workers killed
72 journalists killed
The link to the Associated Press Report is here:
SUICIDES AND OTHER DEATHS
The Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs at Brown University reported that as of July, 2021, over 30,177 U.S. service members and veterans of the post-9/11 wars have died by suicide. Further, coalition partners have died in large numbers with approximately 177,000 uniformed Afghans, Pakistanis, Iraqis, and Syrian allies have died as of November 2019.
The link to the Brown University report is here:
FIVE TAKE A WAYS FROM SOMEONE WHO WAS IN AFGANISTAN
Retired Admiral James Stavridis was the 16th Supreme Allied Commander at NATO and is an Operating Executive at The Carlyle Group. He is a TIME Contributing Editor. On August 16, Time published a lengthy column by Stavridis where he reported his very deep and personal involvement in the war from the very beginning when he was working at the Pentagon when it was attack on 9/11. The following excerpts from the article outline the 5 major take a ways he reported on:
“In some ways, every war is a tragic waste of time, treasure and, most importantly, blood. But I believe that the troops who fought in Afghanistan can hold their heads up with pride in one crucial way: we were sent to Afghanistan to find and bring to justice the 9/11 attackers, and—more importantly—to prevent another attack on the U.S. homeland emanating from that ungoverned space. For twenty years, we did that. … The financial and human costs of U.S. involvement were immense and will be felt for decades both economically with the U.S. debt and in terms of long-term medical care for wounded veterans.
Main battle tanks and motorized howitzers, fifth generation fighter jets, nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, offensive cyberattack programs, and anti-aircraft missile batteries were of limited use in Afghanistan. Instead, we needed heavily armored but light vehicles that could move fast on the dusty roads and survive an encounter with an improvised explosive device. …. At the start, we needed, [but did not have at first] armored Humvees, alongside more nimble special forces, explosive ordnance disposal technicians, counter-insurgency experts, translators, and central Asian historians. The venerable A-10 “warthog,” a troops-in-the-field support aircraft that flew low suddenly counted for more than a glamorous F/A-18 Hornet. In short, the services had to reinvent, reorient, and rethink every aspect of combat.
…[F]rom the earliest moment, it was clear we would need to train a substantial Afghan army and police force if we were ever going to succeed in Afghanistan. That effort began early, even as we gradually increased the number of U.S. troops in country. The U.S. forces put enormous effort into the training, sending top generals like Dave Petraeus and Marty Dempsey, a future Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, as 3-star officers to helm that effort. Eventually well over a million young Afghans would pass through U.S. and allied training programs, which included literacy training). We succeeded in bolstering the technical proficiency of Afghan forces but at times fell short in our efforts to root out corruption among some sectors and were unable to adequately communicate our vision of a peaceful and prosperous future for the country. … We underestimated the degree to which the Taliban were able to infiltrate the ranks, eventually leading to “green on blue” attacks by Afghans on their trainers. And so many of the Afghans would go through training for a time, take the salaries while doing so, and simply disappear back to their villages.
Another part of the learning curve was discovering how best to fight with allies in the field. The rest of NATO, acting for the first and only time in its history under the auspices of its Article V [that states] “an attack on one is an attack on all, came with us into Afghanistan. The frustrations of coalition warfare are immense, from poor communications interconnectivity to caveats placed on forces (ie: nation X will not conduct operations at night). Despite all the disconnects, however, we learned over time that Sir Winston Churchill was right when he said the only thing more frustrating that fighting alongside allies is fighting without allies.
Central was the U.S. military leadership in the fight. The on-the-ground leaders in Afghanistan, mostly Army and Marine Corps, were overwhelmingly brave, thoughtful, and competent. But as we learned over the long years, we simply rotated them too frequently. … We made the same mistake in Vietnam, where everyone was on a one-year tour, and the outcome was a disaster. This was reflected up-and-down the chain of command, and the lack of continuity and sense of “I’ve just got to make it to my departure date” hindered strategic coherency badly.
Finally, we need to acknowledge the tenacity, innovation, resilience, and relentless tactics of the Taliban. In any war, as the saying goes, the enemy gets a vote. The Taliban used all the attributes of successful insurgencies: terrorizing the civilian population, attacks on critical infrastructure, undermining the economy, harassing raids on larger forces, infiltration of Afghan units, and simply outlasting the patience of the U.S.”
The link to the full article
AFGHANISTAN IS NO VIETNAM
Dramatic footage of people being evacuated from Kobul airport resulted in a number of tragic images of people running along the sides of cargo planes airlifting people out. People were seen desperately clinging to the departing planes and later fell to their deaths. Some reports said the images were reminiscent of the helicopter airlifts from rooftops out of the city of Saigon when Viet Nam fell to the Viet Cong. It was on April 29 and 30 1975, during the last days of the Vietnam War where more than 7,000 people were evacuated by helicopter from various points in Saigon, including the U.S. Embassy. The caparison of both war withdrawals as being the same is tragic and insults those who served in the wars and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
The Vietnam War was about a communism versus capitalism conflict and little more than that. The mantra for fighting it at the time was that if Vietnam fell to communism, there would be a “domino effect” and the entire region and surrounding countries would become communist. It happened anyway. The Vietnam war began in 1954 and involved the 3 countries of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. After two decades in 1975, all 3 countries had communist rule.
Iraq borders Iran and Iran borders Afghanistan. All three are overwhelmingly Muslim countries and for years have been hot beds of middle east conflicts.
Iraq’s Muslim population is split into two distinct sects, Shia and Sunni but it is governed by a Prime Minister who holds most of the executive authority and appointed the Council of Ministers, which acts as a cabinet and government. It was from March 20, 2003 to May 1, 2003, the United State with a coalition of 35 countries invaded Iraq “to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people.” Republican President George Bush and his “Dick” Cheney lied and there were no weapons of mass destruction ever found. Saddam Heusen was removed from power and killed by his own people after he was found hiding in a “spider hole”.
Iran is a unitary Islamic “theocratic republic”. In 1979 the Iranian Revolution occurred overthrowing the pro west Shah of Iran. Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini took power as the supreme leader turning Iran from a pro-West monarchy to a vehemently anti-West Islamic theocracy. During his 2002 State of the Union address, President George W. Bush describes Iran as part of an “axis of evil,” along with Iraq and North Korea. He said Iran “aggressively pursues [weapons of mass destruction] and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people’s hope for freedom.” Tensions escalated as Iran pursued a nuclear weapons program. On July 14, 2015, Iran and the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council plus German signed a nuclear agreement, providing Iran with some sanctions relief in exchange for Iran taking a series of steps, including dismantling and redesigning its nuclear reactor. It was on May 8, 2018, Der Führer and then President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the agreement and mount a sanctions campaign to place “maximum pressure” on Iran to pressure it from continuing to develop a nuclear weapon. Many arms control experts and European allies condemn the move, while many Republican lawmakers, Israel, and Saudi Arabia applauded it.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban are made up of former Afghan resistance fighters, known collectively as mujahedeen, who fought the invading Soviet forces in the 1980s. They aimed to impose their interpretation of Islamic law on the country and remove any and all foreign influence and govern by strict “Shia Law” that suppresses freedoms, woman’s rights and opposes democracy. The war in Afghanistan owes its origin to control spread of terrorism across the world and the country in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks with the enemy in Afghanistan being the Taliban and Al Qaeda and the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks. Unlike Vietnam, the Afghanistan war had support of countries worldwide after terrorists killed 2,977 on September 11, 2001.
THE HIGH COST OF THE VIETNAM WAR IN BLOOD
The United States was in Viet Nam for 11 years while in Afghanistan 20 years. One out of every 10 Americans who served in Vietnam was a casualty. 58,148 were killed and 304,000 wounded out of 2.7 million who served. In Afghanistan 2,448 American service members were killed.
In Vietnam, the percentages that died is similar to other wars but amputations or crippling wounds were 300% higher than in World War II. 75,000 Vietnam veterans are severely disabled, including being totally disabled as a result of post traumatic stress disorder with the term replacing the “shell shock” diagnosis of World War II. United States and allied military deaths in Viet Nam were staggering 282,000.
According to the US Congressional Research Service, United States war spending, in 2019 US dollar term, was $843.63 billion in the Vietnam War. The country was directly engaged in the war for 11 years that saw 58,220 US military deaths. The economic cost went as high as 2.3% of GDP in 1968. The Afghanistan war has cost more than the Vietnam War or $910.47 billion in 2019 US dollar value while the total United States investment in Afghanistan may be around $2 to $3 trillion dollars depending on different estimates.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
The Biden Administration’s handling of bringing America’s end to the Afghanistan War is being widely criticized by Der Führer Trump Republicans primarily because of the swift Taliban takeover and the United States not keeping a contingency in Afghanistan to deal with terrorists. The hypocrisy of the criticism of Biden from Der Führer Republicans has no bounds given that Der Führer Trump himself announced the withdrawal. The fact that every foreign policy decision Der Führer Trump made turned to excrement insured that under Trump the withdrawal would of likely been American Troops surrendering to the Taliban or even perhaps Putin to give them refuge in Russia.
Notwithstanding how the withdrawal was handled, the decision by President Biden to exit Afghanistan was the right decision with a withdrawal long overdue. To be blunt, anyone who says the United States lost and “cut and run” from Afghanistan is full of bullshit. More was accomplished in Afghanistan then ever was accomplished in Viet Nam.
The war in Afghanistan began with high hopes of ending terror in the world after the September 11 terror attacks in the US. The United States military did in fact accomplish its original mission of dealing with terrorism in Afghanistan. The United States served justice on those who were responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States, especially with the killing of Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011. It was after Bin Laden’s killing that the United States should have announced victory and gotten out immediately. Instead, the United State stayed another 10 years with the obvious goal of “nation building” which has never worked for the United States as evidence by Iran when in 1952 the U.S. was instrumental in the overthrow of the Iran government and replacing it with the Sha of Iran who was prop upped for 20 years until the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
“WHACK A TERRORIST” IS THE NEW WAR
Critics such as Der Führer Republicans McConnell and Graham are saying the decision by President Biden to withdraw from Afghanistan will make the world a far more dangerous place now and that Afghanistan may again become a safe haven for terror groups like it was in 2001. The argument is being made that we cannot deny the possibility that Taliban may soon again be a base for Al Qaeda and ISIS, and terror groups operating globally. Global terrorist already exists as proof in the capitol cities such as Paris and London.
What is ignored by the critics is that after 20 years of United State presence, a whole new generation of Afghans and Americans have been born. The people of Afghanistan are better educated, the economy was much better and its people experienced freedom like they had never had before. The Afghan people have changed over the last 20, the Taliban have not. Enlightenment and education has a tendency to crush ignorance.
As noted above, roughly one out of every four Americans have been born since the 2001 attacks plotted by al-Qaida leaders who were sheltering in Afghanistan. As far as the United States is concerned, its military and intelligence agencies have also change dramatically over the last 20 years. The US military is still by far the most sophisticated and powerful military in the world that is constantly evolving with technology. The number of casualties of American soldiers was no doubt reduced because of the use of drones, stealth bombers, cruise missles and other sophisticated arms that have pin point precision. The United States home land Security and intelligence gathering network has also likewise changed dramatically as evidence that 20 years have now passed since 9-11 without another similar terrorist attack.
The truth has always been that the United States cannot police the world and stop terrorism nor protect it from all terrorism. Afghanistan is proof once again that Nation building does not work. At this point all the United States can do is play “whack a mole” with terrorists and do so relying on our intelligence community and our special forces in the military such as those who took out Osama bin Laden.
One thing for certain is that the Taliban and ISIS are akin to terminal cancer. The United States did everything it could to cut out the disease and was successful for a period of 20 years in getting it into remission. The people of Afghanistan lived in peace and security and prospered for 20 years because of the United States.
Just like the overwhelming majority of deadly cancers, the Taliban went into remission and has now returned with a vengeance. The 300,000-strong Afghan army trained and funded by the United States disintegrated in a matter of weeks not months. The Afghan army virtually surrender to the Taliban without any resistance laying down their arms. Simply put, Afghanistan is a country whose people did not want to defend themselves and their freedoms from oppression and religious rule.
It is now being reported that Afghan women activists are staging protests in Taliban-controlled Kabul calling for equal rights and full participation in political life. In spite of the risk, a group called the Women’s Political Participation Network marched on the street in front of Afghanistan’s Finance Ministry, chanting slogans and holding signs demanding involvement in the Afghan government and calling for constitutional law. The Taliban have already said that no woman will be allowed and hold positions of power within the government
Taliban leaders insist publicly that women will play a prominent role in society and have access to education. But the group’s public statements about adhering to their interpretation of Islamic values have stoked fears that there will be a return to the harsh policies of Taliban rule two decades ago, when women all but disappeared from public life.
Afghanistan may be back in control of the Taliban, but one thing for certain is that its people, especially its woman, are now realizing what freedoms they have lost with the departure of the United States. The unquenchable thirst and desire for freedom and independence will now last far more than the 20 years the United States was in the country. The Taliban will one day have another reckoning. When that happens, that reckoning will be delivered by the Afghan people. If there is justice in the world, that reckoning will be delivered by the woman of Afghanistan and not a foreign county.
After a full 20 years, withdrawing from Afghanistan was long overdue and President Biden will be remembered for bringing an end to the longest and costliest war in its history. No matter how messy it was, that will soon be forgotten and it was not as bad as it could have been with Der Führer Trump.
One of best articles written on the withdrawal was published on August 26, on line by the Washington Post. The column was written by Gene Robinson is an American newspaper columnist and was with the Chicago Tribune for a number of yeara. He is an associate editor of The Washington Post. His columns are syndicated to 262 newspapers. Robinson won a Pulitzer Prize in 2009. Robinson also serves as NBC News and MSNBC’s chief political analyst and appears frequently on Meet the Press.
HEADLINE: “HOW, EXACTLY, DID THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION’S CRITICS THINK U.S. MILITARY INVOLVEMENT IN AFGHANISTAN WAS EVER GOING TO END?”
“Certainly not like this” is not a valid answer, however tragic Thursday’s attacks near the Kabul airport prove to be. Please be specific. Did you envision a formal ceremony at the U.S. Embassy with the American flag being lowered and the Taliban flag raised? Did you see the Taliban waiting patiently while the U.S.-trained Afghan army escorted U.S. citizens, other NATO nationals and our Afghan collaborators to the airport for evacuation? Did you imagine that the country’s branch of the Islamic State would watch peacefully from the sidelines, or that regional warlords would renounce any hope of regaining their power, or that a nation with a centuries-old tradition of rejecting central authority would suddenly embrace it?”
“This is not an apologia for the tragic and chaotic scenes that have been unfolding in Kabul. Rather, it is a reality check. If there is a graceful, orderly way to abandon involvement in a brutal, unresolved civil war on the other side of the world, please cite historical precedents. I can’t find them.
One legitimate answer to this question is our involvement shouldn’t have ended: that the United States should have kept several thousand troops in Afghanistan. Like President Joe Biden, and like Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump before him, I disagree with that view. But I do see some logic in the position that maintaining the status quo — basically, propping up the Afghan government we installed — would have been better than the Taliban takeover we’ve just witnessed.”
“The problem is that this “forever war” truly would have had to continue forever. We were never going to outlast the Taliban because — and this is an important point — its members live there and want to govern the country. Afghanistan is their country, not ours. The nation’s fate was never going to matter more to us than it does to them, however repulsive we may find their vision for it. Nor was Afghanistan ever going to matter more to us than it does to the military establishment in neighboring Pakistan, which sees its support of the Taliban as a strategic imperative. Sooner or later, we were going to come home.
And if we were going to leave eventually, what would have been different if we had waited another year, or another five, or another 10? We’d have spent a lot more money and sacrificed more American lives, but Afghanistan would still be Afghanistan.
The rapid disintegration of the 300,000-strong Afghan army showed how little we really understood about the country, even after 20 years. U.S. officials thought government forces could hold out against the Taliban at least for months, perhaps as long as a year. Instead, the military and police we sponsored, equipped and trained surrendered much of the country without even putting up a fight.
Should we have begun airlifting Afghan translators and others who helped the allied effort out of the country earlier, perhaps using the now-abandoned air base at Bagram as the departure gate? Maybe so, but such an evacuation might have created a panic — “The Americans are leaving!” — and a target both of the Taliban and ISIS. However we tried to leave, I believe, things were going to be bad.”
“The administration began warning Americans to leave the country months ago. Of the roughly 6,000 who ignored those warnings and remained, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday, some 4,500 have been evacuated and plans were being made to extract another 500. That leaves an estimated 1,000 American citizens believed to still be in the country — and Blinken has said it is not clear whether all those people are actually citizens or that all of them wish to leave.
Meanwhile, we have already evacuated more than 100,000 Afghans who feared for their lives under Taliban rule, a truly remarkable logistical achievement under daunting circumstances. We owe a great debt to these people and we should continue the airlift as long as we can. But that won’t be forever, as conditions deteriorate — witness the deadly bombings on Thursday outside Hamid Karzai International Airport — and not everyone who desperately wants to get out will be able to do so. That is tragic. But it would be true, I believe, whenever and however the U.S. mission ended.
The images [we saw] … from Kabul [were] shocking, heartbreaking and embarrassing. But the real stain on our national honor was in making promises to Afghans that we never had the intention or even the ability to keep. Twenty years of U.S. blood and treasure gave Afghanistan not a secular democracy but its flickering illusion. And history will see this withdrawal, painful as it is to watch, not as ignominious but as inevitable.”
The link to the column is here: