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Davis Journal

Messy exit or not, it’s good that we’re out of Afghanistan

Sep 13, 2021 01:14PM ● By Bryan Gray

We can all agree on one thing: The American troop withdrawal from Afghanistan was a chaotic mess, much like the war was over the past 20 years.

Most of us will agree on something else: It was high time the U.S. pulled out of the tribal country.  After 20 years and 2,400 dead Americans, it appeared, as in other Mideast countries, that the Afghan people didn’t yearn for the democracy that we cherish (ie. just because I like fried shrimp doesn’t mean my neighbor will savor it).

On other aspects of the war, however, there will be disagreement.  In today’s current blame game, President Joe Biden is roasting on a spit.  The optics for his administration are ugly with partisan shots that he, at best, was hesitant – and, at worst incompetent.  His supporters counter that he relied on military advice and that returning veterans always predicted an unwinnable war would end in a victory for the Taliban.

Which side is right? Beats me! I am not a veteran. I’ve read much about the war from numerous sources, but I never took on the role of a sniper shooting an M40 with an M151 spotter scope directed at hooded men anywhere near the Euphrates.  I never had to consider whether a child asking for candy was hiding an explosive. 

Could President Biden have evacuated U.S. soldiers, citizens, and Afghan helpers earlier?  Probably.  I don’t (and you don’t either) know the logistics.  Should President Biden have stayed a bit longer in the hopes of making the airlift more manageable? Possibly, but I’d have to factor in additional cost of American lives faced with ISIS suicide squads.  

I don’t have the answers. In an Alice-In-Wonderland world, we would have extricated every American and every Afghan who helped our soldiers, and every piece of military hardware, leaving the Taliban warlords to wallow in their own opium fields.  But fairy tales are fiction, no matter who is President. 

What I do understand is that our leaving (a promise made by President Trump) was predicated on an orderly process while the Afghan army, equipped with $83 billion of our money in training and equipment, kept the Taliban at bay.  We didn’t anticipate that the Afghan army would immediately take a nap and hand the pass key to the rowdy Taliban troops.  Neither did we expect the elected, corrupt Afghan officials to flee and set up shop drinking rum and sodas in a neighboring country.  

We should be angry.  If you are angry at President Biden, you should also be angry at previous U.S. presidents who, on average, poured $100 million every single day for 20 years into a desolate desert filled with people who gave us a Bronx cheer rather than their thanks.

We can and should feel sorry for the young women who face an uncertain fate under their new rulers.  But what was a U.S. president to do? Airlift every one of them to Kansas so they could pursue their dreams?

Again, your questions and answers are as valid as mine.  However, I do believe that history will treat President Biden a bit more kindly for his decision to end the “forever war” and declare his intentions to stay out of the nation-building business in countries that don’t share our same values.  Spend money building our own nation!  

At least we are out of Afghanistan.  We should have left 10 years earlier.