Afghanistan: America’s Worst Defeat Yet
As I have noted in previous commentaries, America – with the world’s most powerful military — has not won a war since World War II. In fact, our diplomacy has not worked well either.
We are still officially in a war footing with North Korea since that ended with nothing more than a cease fire. North Korea never surrendered. But at least we held on to South Korea as a strong ally of the United States.
We completely lost in Vietnam – losing the south to the Communist regime.
But at least Vietnam did not remain in a permanent anti-American position. In fact, our relationship with that country is rather good today. Americans visit there – and American enterprises do business there.
In the Middle East, we pushed Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait.
But we did not topple his regime at the time. When we later did, we allowed American adversaries shape post-war Iraq.
We demanded the ousting of Syrian strongman Bashar al Assad and then walked away. We left the resistance fighters to be slaughtered. This clearly established that Russia is a better friend than the United States to a lot of folks in the region.
As bad as those were, the Afghanistan war is arguably the worst and most humiliating defeat in American history. While no surrenders will be signed, we have waved the white flag, tucked tail and ran.
After more than 16 years of warfare, we have only been able to hold the Taliban to a stalemate – if even that.
And now we will leave that country to the unrestricted power of the Taliban and ISIS. We will leave behind a nation that may well be completely taken over by the Muslim extremists who will have enhanced resources and locations from which to launch terrorist attacks on America and the western world.
Like Vietnam and Syria, we will leave behind friends and allies who fought side-by-side with the United States only to be left as cannon fodder for the ruthless Taliban.
The attack on the girl’s school in Kabul is both a real and symbolic example of what is in store for the people of Afghanistan – especially the women. All the progress we may have made in bringing Afghanistan into the family of civilized nations will be completely lost. After so many years of conflict – at enormous costs in lives and treasure – we will have gained nothing. Things may even be worse than before the Afghanistan war commenced.
We need no better example of the Taliban’s and ISIS’ plans for the future than the bombing of a girls’ school.
Imagine that. Targeting a bunch of innocent little girls to underscore the Taliban’s oppressive policies toward women.
In terms of Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and even Syria, to some extent, we were not faced with massive attacks on the United States in the aftermath. Afghanistan promises to be quite different. The Taliban hates those they consider infidels with a greater passion and determination than ever.
Appearing on “Morning Joe, General James Stavridis – former Supreme Allied Commander in Europe – said that the United States and our allies were still supporting the government in Kabul. Really?
Stavridis noted three ways America is helping. We are still funding the Afghan military to the tune of $4 billion dollars a year – and he thinks we should increase that amount. Hmmmm. Let’s get this straight. Stavridis is saying that we have been sending them $4 billion dollars every year in military aid AND had hundreds of thousands of American troops engaged in the fighting – and we lost the war. Now, we are to believe that sending the money without boots on the ground will do the trick. I am dubious.
Stavridis said that we are still providing them with intelligence through the CIA. This includes air and satellite surveillance and double agents. I have heard other military leaders say that intelligence operations in the Afghanistan war are very ineffective because it is virtually impossible to penetrate the Taliban forces – and the mountainous regions are difficult to surveil from the sky.
Finally, Stavridis said that we still have the capability to perform surgical strikes from bases outside of Afghanistan. That may work to occasionally take out a leader or hit a headquarters – but unless we provide continuing bombing – in other words, re-engage militarily – a symbolic attack is not likely to do much to change the trajectory of the war.
Such attacks are only effective in achieving a short-term goal. President Reagan got Muammar Kaddafi to stop funding international terrorism after U.S. planes bombed his home in Tripoli. President Obama killed Osama bin Laden. And President Trump used a surgical attack in Syria to stop Bashar al Assad from using chemical weapons on his own people. Surgical strikes do not seem to be as effective against a pernicious and vicious terrorist organization like the Taliban.
Ending the war may sound like good policy to many, but it is never good to end in defeat.
Sixteen long years, thousands of lives (including my grandson) and trillions of dollars … for what? What did we gain?
And it is not just about losing the battle. It impacts on diplomacy. Which third-world nations are going to side with the United States in the international political and economic competition? Russia and China have been expanding their influence throughout the world as America’s diminishes.
I wonder how confident the leaders of Ukraine are in America’s pledge of support. Even Israel has cause for concern – especially with the rising pro-Arab caucus within the ranks of the congressional Democrats. Does Hong Kong have confidence of our lip service support for the democratic movement? Does Taiwan really trust us to defend them if China invades the island?
As we speak, our NATO allies are trending toward China and Russia as the new world power players.
Germany pleads for U.S. money and troops to protect their Republic from the evil and aggressive Kremlin. And yet they cut a deal to pipe in Russian oil and gas – a major economic and diplomatic coup for President Vladimir Putin.
Stavridis was correct when he said that the bombing of the girls’ school was “only a taste of what is to come” in Afghanistan. My prediction is more Taliban violence – and that they will eventually take over the country. I also see a Syrian-like migration of Afghan families escaping the terror on the horizon – especially for the sake of the women.
I always had a very simple belief. Have a real good reason to engage in war – and then fight it to win. Since 1945, America has done neither. Cease fires and withdrawals are merely euphemisms for defeat and surrender.
The Bible posed the rhetorical question: Who will heed an uncertain trumpet? The answer is, no one. And America has become an uncertain trumpet to too much of the world.
So, there ‘tis.