Our hearts are breaking for the people of Afghanistan. To have faced unspeakable violence and tragedy in one’s homeland for more than 20 years represents a trauma that few of us will ever understand, yet it is one the Afghan people will continue to face every day for years to come.
The tragedy of this war has touched so many of us in distinct ways. For veterans who served in Afghanistan, many of us fought for months and years in a conflict we knew to have unclear objectives. We lost friends, we bear scars, and we share an emotional turmoil that’s difficult to put into words.
The ongoing Taliban advance is alarming in the gravest sense of the word, but it’s also indicative of the precarious nature of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. For the past 20 years, U.S. military commanders and civilian elected leaders across multiple administrations have deliberately misled the American public and betrayed the Afghan people through their unequivocal mismanagement and disregard for humanity—all in the name of a vision that never materialized.
Whether the U.S. withdrew its forces 10 years ago, or 10 years from now, the outcome would have been the same. The cycle of violence in Afghanistan was the direct result of our occupation, by unifying extremists both in Afghanistan and from around the region around a cause of defeating a perceived imperialist invader. The so-called “Global War on Terror” has been an utter failure, and its architects—who wasted incalculable lives and resources—are completely discredited.
There can be no more blood spilled, more trillions spent in the name of reckless military interventions overseas. The institutions of national security that so utterly failed us and the Afghan people must be rebuilt from the ground up, in a full process of accountability and transparency so that this can never happen again. We must dismantle the corrupt system that allowed corporations and bureaucratic interests to profit on perpetuating an aimless Forever War. And we must revisit the obscene Pentagon budgets that have been wasted with so little results or even oversight.
Veterans like us were under no illusions about how difficult it would be to extract us from this war, but we overwhelmingly support President Biden’s correct decision to end U.S. involvement in the Forever War in Afghanistan. As additional information continues to emerge and strategic military decisions are made, the fact remains that the conclusion of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan is long overdue. It must be our absolute priority to ensure the safe evacuation of American diplomats, take all measures necessary to fulfill our promise to Afghans who served alongside us, and prepare to admit as many additional refugees from this crisis of our own making as we can—the Biden administration must take full responsibility for the ramifications of this decision.
Team Common Defense