I was in Colorado visiting friends and family when Kabul fell to the Taliban. My in-laws turned on the television to watch the news. I was stunned to watch terrified Afghans clinging to a C-17 that was taking off.
I picked up my phone and doom-scrolled through Twitter to look for information the news wasn’t covering. I saw the tragic video of someone falling out of the sky from that C-17 to his death. Girls screaming through a fence at Marines, begging to be saved from the Taliban. A Taliban fighter jumping on the chest of a crying woman lying on the ground. I have no idea if he killed her.
The sudden turn of events is shocking. A month ago, Kabul was a modern city safe enough for people to come and go as they pleased. Now it’s a humanitarian catastrophe.
When I began writing this blog post, it had been only a couple of days after Kabul fell to the Taliban. The situation was bad, but U.S. troops had control of the Kabul airport, evacuations were underway, and the Biden Administration was assuring America they wouldn’t leave anyone behind.
I’m not a fast writer. Whatever I wrote became outdated with each passing day as the situation in Kabul deteriorated. I’m not a journalist, of course, and have no obligation to write about current events. In fact, as a budding fiction writer, and given how politically divisive America is these days, I probably shouldn’t be expressing political opinions of any kind and risk alienating anyone. But the disastrous pullout from Afghanistan is all I could think about for the past two weeks. What’s the point of having a blog if I don’t write about what’s on my mind?
I served for eight years in the U.S. Air Force as a weather officer during a time of relative peace. On the morning of September 11th, 2001, I was in my apartment, getting ready to go to work at L.A. AFB when NPR announced a plane crashed into the World Trade Center. I turned on the TV and saw the smoldering tower. A second plane crashed into the other tower. Then to my horror, both towers collapsed on live television.
I’ve paid attention to news coverage of Afghanistan for the past two decades, heartbroken every time another picture of a deceased service member appeared on TV. And now thirteen more U.S. service members have died, along with at least 169 Afghans, thanks to the astounding incompetence of this administration.
Evacuations have officially ended. The last remaining U.S. troops are packing up and leaving. Meanwhile American citizens are still stranded, along with an estimated 150,000 Afghans who helped the U.S. and other Western countries.
And now I just found out the U.S. handed a list of American citizens, green card holders and Afghan allies to the Taliban. Really? Are you f**king kidding me? Are these people responsible for this catastrophe simply incompetent? Or are they traitors? Because I can’t tell the difference.
After two decades of blood, sweat, and tears, lives sacrificed, and $83 billion dollars spent on training and equipment, Afghanistan has been abandoned to terrorists who are now going door-to-door hunting down and executing Afghans who helped us. We asked these Afghans to believe in us. Then we betrayed them and left them to the wolves.
Police Chief Execution Video Goes Viral, Taliban On Door To Door Hunt For Afghan Forces, Journalists
What’s also disheartening is that Kabul isn’t some remote village in the middle of nowhere, populated by people who can’t read or write. After twenty years of U.S. involvement, Kabul had become a modern city shaped by our western values. It had a free press. Women attended universities. Women were employed as doctors, journalists, and judges. The girls’ robotics team was recognized by the international community. People went about their lives in a functioning, albeit imperfect, democracy. Sixty-five percent of Afghans are under the age of 20 and know no other life.
I strongly disagreed with the Trump Administration’s 2020 deal with the Taliban. At the time, my biggest concern was for the the girls and women who would suffer under the Taliban, and for all those Afghan translators who were having difficulty getting visas to leave Afghanistan. But the Covid-19 pandemic dominated the news. Afghanistan was forgotten. Until now.
The rhetoric from both Democrats and Republicans of ending the “forever war” in Afghanistan makes no sense. It’s been 70 years since the end of WWII and the Korean War, and yet we still have troops in Germany, Japan, and South Korea. These countries are now thriving democracies and Western allies thanks to the United States and our belief in freedom and democracy.
According to a 2017 op-ed in Newsweek:
By the end of last year, a little more than 39,000 troops were stationed in Japan, with the Marine Corps representing roughly a third of that force at 13,724 personnel, according to the most recent data released by the Department of Defense. That’s by far the largest force stationed overseas among the entire U.S. military, with Germany next up at more than 34,000 troops, followed by South Korea at nearly 23,500 troops.
Maybe someday the Taliban will abandon their barbaric interpretation of law and order, and Afghanistan will become a thriving, peaceful country like Vietnam. Maybe there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes that I don’t understand.
I needed to write this blog post to express my frustration about this disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan. I also wanted to express my condolences for the service members who died, and the families they left behind. I hope one day Afghanistan becomes a thriving, peaceful nation, and that the sacrifices of those who gave their lives defending freedom and democracy will not be in vain.