Readers of a certain age may – like me – be watching coverage from what’s left of Afghanistan and saying: “This reminds me of April, 1975 again.” And of course they are right.
Those of us able to place Vietnam on a map remember the dramatic collapse of that country and the panicky exit from the rooftop of the American embassy those many years ago. Once again a ragtag army cuts off propped up local forces with no interest in living up to the press releases issued by their American handlers over these many years and takes control of – let’s face it – their country. Afghans crowd the airport in Kabul hoping to board flights out ahead of the Taliban’s specific brand of Islamist rule.
It’s left to American politicians to sling blame, generals to dodge it and the American people to figure out – once again – what it got for the $2.26 trillion we spent in our latest failed effort to shore up a reluctant and corrupt ally.
In the weeks to come I’m sure committees will be convened to investigate the matter and “get to the bottom” of this latest failure but I am reminded of the words of a lowly U.S. PFC as his unit sheltered from Taliban sniper fire in a dusty compound somewhere in Afghanistan during our years there. He said: “This whole country would fall in three days if we left. A week – tops.”
This despite our leaders and generals telling us that the effort in Afghanistan was “rounding the corner” and an example of a longed-for “democratization.”
As usual, we would have been better off listening to that lowly private than the generals and politicians and corporate benefactors flinging money and lives at a failed effort. Always listen to the privates.
Daniel Cooper/ Walnut Creek