The war in Afghanistan is finally over. Our troops are home. The tragedy of two suicide bombers killing hundreds of people including 13 American troops is seared into my memory. Those soldiers were trying to save mostly Afgan men, women and children by facilitating a transfer out of Kabul to a safer destination.
My wife served in the Navy. She understands first hand the sacrifices that young men and women make to serve our country. As more and more people criticized our withdrawal from Afghanistan, she became irritated at the comments being made by those who never were part of the military. It is easy for politicians and citizens alike to judge the last horrific events in Kabul as a “botched”mission, yet why didn’t they volunteer to go? (Letter to the editor, A4, WMI, 8/27/21) There are members of the military and veterans who have served who have an opinion that matters.
It is time we stop pointing fingers and realize that this entire war from beginning to end needs to owned by every American as a success and a failure. After the bombing of the World Trade Center, there was near unanimous support by all Americans to invade Afghanistan. We successfully displaced the Taliban and Al Queda. Osama Bin Laden was eventually found and held accountable. We allowed Afghan society to experience a new life in the form of democracy and equality for women for nearly 20 years. We also were able to successfully respond to the rise of the Islamic State.
We failed when we lost focus on the mission and invaded Iraq. We failed when we began Nation Building instead of pulling out. We failed when we negotiated a treaty with the Taliban and did not include the Afghanistan leadership. We failed when 5,000 Taliban prisoners were released before we left. We failed every time another life was lost in Afghanistan whether it was an Afgan child or an American Marine. War is awful no matter how you look at it.
The two actions that were correct, without dispute , were the decision to invade Afghanistan and our decision to end the war, nearly 20 years later.
Let’s stop the blaming. It was a collective success and failure. It is over. It is time to heal and come together. I will always remember the ultimate sacrifices made by 2,372 individuals in our American military. There were 241,000 people who died during the Afghanistan and Pakistan conflict since 2001. Approximately 71,000 were civilians. I only hope we, America, can learn from this tragedy.
Gregory Jarrin, MD,