Withdrawal from Afghanistan

forever war

AfghanistanThe Weekly Sift looked at both sides of the debate regarding the planned US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021.

“Pro: Leaving saves American lives and resources and gives our military more flexibility to confront challenges more central to our well-being… Con: Without us, the Afghan government will probably fall to the Taliban…

“But one argument has been conspicuous by its absence: If we stay for six more months, or a year, or three years, Afghan democracy will stabilize, the Afghan Army will finally have enough training, and the government we leave behind in Kabul will be able to sustain itself.”

He is siding with Joe Biden on this. “Whatever our original intentions might have been, by now, it’s clear that we’re not building a secular, democratic, pro-Western government that will someday be strong enough to stand on its own.

“There’s a lesson here, and it’s the same lesson we should have learned from Vietnam: To install a new form of government in a country, people on the ground have to be buying what you’re selling.”

For two decades, part of the rationale for the “forever war” was so that the 2300 US soldiers who died in Afganistan will not have “died in vain.”

“Over the last two decades, hundreds of thousands of American troops have served in Afghanistan — most of them honorably and some heroically. It is a shame that their effort and sacrifice have not produced a lasting result that our nation can point to with pride. But more effort and sacrifice will not redeem what bad policy has already wasted. We need to leave.”


Chris Hedges in Common Dreams is harsher. He calls it The Collapse of the American Empire. “War…when, as in Afghanistan, there is no vision at all, descends into a quagmire.”

I remember quite well when the war in Afghanistan began. My wife and I, reeling from 9/11 and the constant news about the same, ended up at a bed-and-breakfast in Cherry Valley, about an hour west of Albany, in early October.

The best thing about planning the trip was that there was no television. We’d be news-free! This turned out not to be the case. A radio from an adjoining room blared the news of the start of the Afghanistan war. I knew it was coming, and I even understood the limited intention to root out bin Laden and al-Qaeda from that country.

Then, the Afghanistan war seemed almost forgotten for a time as the US launched into battle in Iraq, complete with a bogus rationale.

Nine years after bin Laden’s death, in Pakistan, no less, and with no US troop deaths in the past year or so, it’s time to move on. Whether we ACTUALLY do that is subject to the interpretation of what “leave” means.

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