A disaster is playing out in Afghanistan as I write this. Upon assuming the presidency, Joe Biden carried through with the President Trump policy of withdrawing all troops from Afghanistan. Much to the shock of America's foreign policy experts, the large, well-equipped Afghanistan military folded within days as the much smaller Taliban force seized control of the country and the government.
While Presidents Trump and Biden had different approaches to Afghanistan, they both had the same goal - the end to America's longest war. President Trump's approach was to befriend the terrorist-supporting Taliban and trust them to be partners in peace. President Biden's approach was more Vietnamesesque... train the locals to take over the fighting and then leave. Unfortunately for Biden, the strategy worked as well as it did in Vietnam. It took only days for North Vietnam to route South Vietnam when the United States left its ally behind. Same with the Taliban and Afghanistan.
In the last few years, the hopes of stamping out the Taliban were shelved as the American military was reduced to a small security force. While the smaller force was remarkably successful in keeping the Taliban and its support for terrorism contained, the United States was far less successful when it came to nation building. While the United States rebuilt roads and bridges and schools in Afghanistan, the seeds of democracy and freedom never took root.
One might say that the withdraw from Afghanistan was a mistake. But the almost immediate collapse of the Afghan government and surrender to the Taliban suggests that our 20 year approach to Afghanistan was the real mistake. Nation building does not work. Freedom and democracy have to grow organically. Planting those seeds ourselves and hoping they grow never works. The United States never seems to learn these lessons.
The United States went into Afghanistan to go after the Al-Qaeda terrorists who were behind the 9/11 attack on the United States. The Taliban, located chiefly in Afghanistan, had given aid and support to the Al-Qaeda terrorists. The United States did a remarkably good job in going after those terrorists and extracting a heavy price for so many Americans killed on that September day.
It was when America's mission went from targeting terrorists to nation building that success in Afghanistan turned to failure.
Here's what I don't get about Afghanistan. Why isn't the United States doing everything possible to get those Afghans who helped America, people such as translators, out of the country? Leaving them behind is to doom them to death. Further, it almost ensures no locals will want to help the United States ever again.
Sadly, this is just the most recent example of the United States turning its back on friends who helped America. I think back about the Kurds who helped the United States in Syria only to see President Trump leave them behind to die.
The U.S. military has made a sacred commitment to leave no one behind on the battlefield. That is a commitment we need to extend to those friends of America who risked their lives to help out the United States in its missions. To leave those Afghans behind is unconscionable, a disgraceful chapter in America's history books.