Carnes: Live and let live, or die?
With appropriate apologies for allowing Sir Paul McCartney’s song to be in your head at this moment, most of us were all for it in the beginning.
Three thousand Americans had been murdered in an instant, the reverberations around the world a resounding drum beat of revenge, and there was no one better to accomplish such vengeance than the mighty American military.
Operation Enduring Freedom succeeded in breaking up Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida and routed the Taliban government that was hosting the terrorist network.
And that’s when we should have left the perpetually sinking in a never-ending desert of hopelessness known as Afghanistan.
More than $2 trillion spent and almost 2,500 American lives lost in the longest war in our nation’s history, and we were defeated by (to paraphrase a social media comment) “an army with no planes, helicopters or missiles — just a bunch of filthy guys in stolen pickup trucks.”
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With appropriate and sincere sympathies to each and every family who lost loved ones, would one more American death justify it all? A hundred more, a thousand?
An endless cycle of insanity is a war that continues because more blood has to be spilled to prove the value of the lives already lost, yet I ask, is temporarily saving an Afghan village worth another single American life?
George W. Bush started it, Barack Obama said he would end it, then Donald Trump said he would end it, and now Joe Biden, who said nine years ago that we should get the hell out of there, is actually ending it for real, damn the consequences.
Trump announced a dead date for leaving (May 1, 2021), Biden postponed it a few months to hopefully make it a somewhat orderly escape, and it took less than two weeks for the Afghan military and the rest of the country to fold like a wet blanket on a blistering hot afternoon.
There was no proper way to exit, as we were damned to do it this way and damned to do that way, but either way we were damned, especially so for the current administration, but at least this one has the courage to accept ownership of the failure.
An unwinnable war in a country that has been a terrorist base for decades was always going to end this way. It’s not an intel failure on anyone’s watch or an ineptly planned retreat, and I say that because we knew it would happen, and now that it is happening, some are pretending to be shocked that it is happening.
The Afghan government has allowed it to happen, meaning while Afghan men allowed it, Afghan women and children will pay the price, along with the Afghans that helped us over the last two decades.
They’re all screwed, but they have done it to themselves in spite of the American men and women sacrificed in a well-intentioned effort to help.
It’s time to cut bait and get off the pot, and allow the Afghan people to decide who lives and who dies without the intervention of American blood tipping the scale.
And now it appears China intends to recognize the Taliban as a legitimate government, while we say if they uphold the basic rights of its people and do not harbor terrorists, then we can talk.
Don’t hold your breath.
Instead, be angry — angry enough to not allow our elected leaders to put us in such a pointless situation ever again.
Richard Carnes, of Avon, writes weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.