“I have no idea what the U.S. strategy is for Afghanistan,” former U.S. Air Force General Counsel, Mary Walker, said to me at a dinner a decade ago when I asked why is America in Afghanistan, and what is our long-term objective.
Imagine being on a soccer field with all the players and no goalposts for either side. Which way to run? How to win?
Why have American politicians, across three presidencies, spent close to a trillion dollars in Afghanistan and sent young people off to fight and die in a war with no clear mission?
They sent America’s brightest to fight in a war with no purpose. And now we are dealing with the aftermath at home, which is a broken VA healthcare system that automates your home drug delivery.
It’s been clear to me and most of my Navy SEAL and military friends who have served in all branches of the military, that the actors are on stage but the director left the building in 2004.
Now the actors are without a script, and have to improv off the Taliban’s screenplay.
Not a way to win a war or wage one.
Smart people have been pointing out the red flags for years. So it’s no surprise to me that Afghanistan is crumbling down around us.
It would be easy to pin it on our military leadership and blame them but that’s very shortsighted. They’ve had their hands tied behind their backs for years and we saw cancel culture reach into the military when a good man and leader was forced to retire, Gen. Stanley McChrystal.
The Pentagon doesn’t authorize war, it executes it (at least tries to).
However, it’s hard for generals and admirals to do their job with both hands tied behind their backs and a thick spine-breaking 100-pound rule book titled, “How to Win Friends and Kill People the PC Way“, strapped to their backs.
It’s like putting a young UFC fighter in a cage match blindfolded and expecting him to win against Tim Kennedy.
Mission Impossible in the real.
Then this recent headline comes along from the Wall Street Journal “Afghan Government Could Collapse Six Months After U.S. Withdrawal, New Intelligence Assessment Says.”
What did we really expect? And what does the WSJ hope to accomplish editorially with this? To have us stay in Afghanistan longer? For what?
The WSJ writes in the piece,
“The U.S. intelligence community concluded last week that the government of Afghanistan could collapse as soon as six months after the American military withdrawal from the country is completed, according to officials with knowledge of the new assessment.
American intelligence agencies revised their previously more optimistic estimates as the Taliban swept through northern Afghanistan last week, seizing dozens of districts and surrounding major cities. Afghan security forces frequently surrendered without a fight, leaving their Humvees and other American-supplied equipment to the insurgents.
The new assessment of the overall U.S. intelligence community, which hasn’t been previously reported, has now aligned more closely with the analysis that had been generated by the U.S. military. The military has already withdrawn more than half of its 3,500 troops and its equipment, with the rest due to be out by Sept. 11.”
It also seems like a carefully crafted advertorial, disguised as journalism, nudged into existence by the War Lobbyists of Washington DC tossing out chunks of raw meat to a hungry pack of news dogs in the nation’s capital.
Questions to Ask Ourselves
Who benefits from the above editorial stance?
What would be the reason for staying in the country longer?
What have Americans gained by being in Afghanistan for 20 years?
Could we have used that trillion dollars better back home?
These are good questions to ask ourselves in the modern era of “news entertainment” where advertisers lean on news organizations with do’s and don’ts and greasy political campaign managers leak info for their own political interests.
If one thing is clear to me since leaving the SEAL Teams in 2006, it’s that the real winners in the 20-year war (the longest war in American history) are the defense industry and the retired officers that sit on these companies’ boards and push around people and contracts like pieces on a chessboard.
Only, it’s a stalemate for the U.S. and Afghanistan.
We all need to ask the tough questions and keep our elected officials held accountable. Remember that when you go out and vote. Remember the Afghanistan incompetence.
Our dead and our walking dead here at home deserve this.
Suggested reading on America’s War in Afghanistan:
Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia, Second Edition
The Taliban at War: 2001 – 2018
Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan