Afghanistan: A failure 20 years in the making

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It was time for the U.S. to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan. That doesn’t make what we’re seeing going on there now any less an abject failure.

“Intelligence officials have anticipated for years that in the absence of the U.S. military the Taliban would continue to make gains in Afghanistan. That is exactly what has happened as the Afghan National Security Forces proved unable or unwilling to defend against Taliban advances in Kabul and across the country,” said Sen. Mark Warner, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“I hope to work with the other committees of jurisdiction to ask tough but necessary questions about why we weren’t better prepared for a worst-case scenario involving such a swift and total collapse of the Afghan government and security forces. We owe those answers to the American people and to all those who served and sacrificed so much,” Warner said.

Two trillion dollars. More than 6,000 American lives. Twenty years.

Nothing to show for it.

It’s a failure of the last four presidential administrations. President Bush launched the war in the weeks following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, aiming at dismantling the al-Qaeda network behind the attacks that operated openly in Afghanistan as an ally of the Taliban government in control at the time.

The first mistake was the Bush administration then making it a two-front war with the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Barack Obama and Donald Trump both talked about drawing down U.S. forces in their tenures, but were not able to pull the trigger.

Leaving it to Joe Biden to bite the bullet.

The president said Monday that his administration didn’t anticipate the rapid fall of the pro-U.S. government and military that we’ve seen the past couple of weeks, but several media reports are now suggesting that the decision-makers were privy to intelligence forecasting a swift Taliban sweep.

The failure of the 20-year war means so many things to so many people. Afghan women, for example, are now second-class citizens in their home country. Those who worked with the U.S. and west in the past 20 years are vulnerable.

The scenes that we’ve been seeing at airports of people desperately trying to escape are heartbreaking.

“What we are seeing unfold in Afghanistan is devastating,” said Sen. Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “At this time, we must do everything we can to prioritize the evacuation of U.S. personnel, Afghan partners, journalists, women leaders, activists, human rights defenders, and others. I am in close communication with the administration and our allies on the ground to ensure their safety and quick removal.”

We also have to wonder now what impact the re-emergence of the Taliban will mean to U.S. security.

“Keeping our nation safe is critically important,” Kaine said. “The U.S. went into Afghanistan in 2001 to defeat those who attacked the U.S. on 9/11, and 10 years later, we found and killed Osama bin Laden. We stayed an additional decade to help train Afghan security forces and create conditions for a more stable future in that country. While I believe it is now time to bring our troops home, we must continue working to maintain humanitarian and diplomatic support for Afghanistan to ensure the country does not again become a safe haven for al-Qaeda.”

Story by Chris Graham


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