“No Matter The Timing, Withdrawing From Afghanistan Was Wrong ” – that’s the headline. I suppose that is a point of view we have to address because there are reasons to have stayed. At this point I still suspect we will go back. But, time will tell on that front. I am assuming that “no matter” in this headline is hyperbole. If taken on face value the only option would be to make Afghanistan a US territory. The last time we did that was the late 1940’s when we claimed some islands as territories.
The author writes, “Many have pointed out that such events were inevitable. I am one of them. Many have pointed out that withdrawal was a policy pushed by both the Trump and Biden administration. I am one of them. Many have argued that the inevitable nature outcome of this “bi-partisan” policy means that while we can criticize how this withdrawal was carried out, the underlying goal was sound. I am not one of them. ”
As you know, I have fallen into the category that withdrawal was the right policy, the right goal, and long overdue. Why doesn’t the author feel that way? He writes, “Second, the “leave now or leave later” proposition is a false binary. There is another choice being ignored: don’t withdraw. Instead, maintain a long-term specialized military force in any and all regions in which the undermining of terrorist activity protects U.S. civilians.”
He’s right. That is a choice that has been ignored. We’ve wanted out for years. Why might that be? I think it is because there is nothing there for us. The only purpose, in terms of US interests, for staying would be to prevent exactly what has happened from happening. That isn’t exactly a US interest. A humanitarian interest, for sure, an interest of freedom and democracy as a philosophy and tool of peace, yes, but not a US interest. Not in the direct way required to justify a long term occupation of a foreign country.
The author concludes, “Right now, the only mainstream alternative being pushed is a belief that we can withdraw from Afghanistan and safely retreat behind our metaphorical borders, without facing any subsequent consequences.” Our borders aren’t metaphorical. They aren’t even imaginary. They, the desert, the mountains, the sea, all stand between us and Afghanistan. As does their abject poverty. Remember, it wasn’t Afghanistan that attacked the US 20 years ago on September 11th, 2001.
I can’t support the idea that we just stay in Afghanistan. I loath how we entered and loath how we left. As a nation we should be ashamed of ourselves that we didn’t do a better job. There were terrorist camps there. We got rid of them. If we had done that and used covert means to keep them rid of, I would have supported that effort. Instead we took over the country and installed a government, armed them, and left. They were ill-prepared, but even if they were well prepared, they don’t seem to have cared much and just turned it all back over to the previous government. The sight of people trying to get on planes and not being allowed to hurts. People being thrown to the wolves by the United State of America, hurts. We are better than that.
But is that enough reason to say we should never – ever – have left? I still find it hard to justify that course of action. Hang our heads at the wrongs we’ve done, but they don’t mean we should have stayed. In a sad, but honest way, we treated the Afghani people like children. The author of the linked editorial would have had mommy and daddy stay together for the sake of the children.