The Afghanistan war is over. It will go down in history as the most humiliating disaster in the history of the U.S. military. This wasn’t a pullout; it was a flawed, chaotic retreat just as it was in Vietnam, only this time even worse. When will our military leaders and politicians learn the lessons from history?
After the second World War, we started nation-building in Germany, Italy and Japan. We sent huge occupation armies into these countries to get it done. We accomplished what we set out to do. But even after 76 years we still have 40,000 troops in Germany, 56,000 in Japan and we still maintain a military footprint in Italy.
Nation-building takes time, money, blood and, above all, resolve. These former Axis countries now have democratic forms of government and have long entered the free countries of the world. The American people have to ask two questions: Is it worth it and should we do it? Would the world be safer if Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq were free democratic countries?
Things started going wrong when President Truman got caught up in the Korea War debacle. Had he listened to his general (MacArthur), North and South Korea would be one country. You can’t fight a limited war and win. The war never ended there, we just have a truce and after 68 years we still have 28,000 troops in South Korea. How long would South Korea last if we pulled out our troops? Some experts say three days.
One lesson from history is that if you are going to nation-build, you have to have the resolve to stay. We have the best fighting army in the world and any other army will stand with us, just ask the English, French or the South Korean veterans. John F. Kennedy wanted to stop the spread of communism by nation-building. He tried to do that in Vietnam and I believe that had he lived, he would have accomplished his mission. But President Johnson and his generals tried to do the same thing as Korea and it ended as a humiliating retreat for us. Why? We did not have good generals or politicians to back our army and we lost our resolve. Our military leaders knew that the South Vietnamese Army would never stand against the North. The North had Russia and China backing them up and the South had who? We wouldn’t even honor the Paris Peace Accords. A huge stain on our honor and 58,000 American soldiers dead for what?
And now we have Afghanistan. Will we never learn? President George W. Bush went in there to destroy the 9/11 terrorists. He did it but then he decided to nation-build again. After 20 years and thousands of American and Afghanistan soldiers and civilians dead, the politicians and generals decided it was time to go home with the job only half-finished. And the pull-out was the worst, ill-conceived mission ever concocted by the White House and its so-called generals. So many mistakes by so many people. The Afghanistan soldiers fought well beside the Americans and the generals had to know that if we pulled out the Afghanistan army would fold just like the South Vietnamese Army did. But this retreat was so much worse than Vietnam. This is the first time that we left American citizens behind enemy lines and no way to get them out. The first time!
This is the most humiliating disgrace on American honor ever. We will never live this down. How could Biden, Harris, Austin, Blinken, Milley, McKenzie and the rest ever come up with such an ill-conceived plan that had disaster written all over it? And now we are supposed to believe that the Taliban (who are nothing but terrorists that we were fighting for the last 20 years) are going to help get the remaining Americans out? The White House can spin this anyway it wants, but we the people saw in real-time exactly what was happening over there.
I read a headline from an MSNBC anchor that said “Our democracy is teetering.” No, our democracy is not teetering but our government is. Heads should fall for this but they won’t. As to those generals, they need to take those stars off of their collars. We have the greatest army in the world and we need real generals to lead it.
The American soldier will freely give his blood or life for other people around the world so that they can have what we have here in America. Why? Because that’s who we are. The soldiers didn’t give up, the politicians did — again. When will we stop spending our blood for nothing? And how many Afghanistan civilians are going to die by the Taliban just because they wanted what we have and what is yet to come from this?
President Biden addressed the nation last week and said the mission was a success. Some reports have two American families visiting Afghanistan with their children are still somewhere behind enemy lines. God help them.
Stan Shingara is a U.S. military veteran. He lives in Elysburg.