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Did you know America won the war in Afghanistan?

Did you know America won the war in Afghanistan?

There is an old story about a Civil War general who refused to admit he had to retreat.  Instead, he claimed to be advancing to the rear.  We are now hearing a version of that from Washington.

The Biden administration claims that what happened in Afghanistan was NOT … repeat NOT … a defeat.  That sentiment was expressed by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Department spokesperson John Kirby.  Former intelligence chief James Clapper was asked on CNN if we were defeated, and he replied, “I would not call it that.”  What in God’s name would you call it? 

Let us be perfectly clear.  America was defeated.  We got our ass kicked by a rag-tag assemblage of terrorists without an air force, without heavy artillery, without drones, without the mountain-penetrating MOAB (Mother Of All Bombs).  The Taliban – with the support of al Qaeda literally whipped the world’s allegedly most powerful military with homemade bombs and pick-up trucks equipped with machine guns.

America was not only defeated, we were humiliated.  We have lost the prestige of being a world leader.  And in our surrender – leaving behind hundreds of American citizens and tens of thousands of endangered Afghans — we lost our honor and the trust of allies.

So … on what basis does the Biden administration lay its claim for … Success?

Biden and his administration stresses three points.  First, we killed Osama bin Ladin.  Of course, he was not even in Afghanistan.  We killed him in Pakistan – and that was ten years ago.  It had nothing to do with the fighting in Afghanistan.  The goal in Afghanistan was to defeat the Taliban and their al Qaeda subsidiary for the attack on 9/11 – and so that they never return to power to spread their horrific terrorism across the globe.  If not nation-building, our goal was clearly a permanent regime change.  Thanks to Biden, a regime has taken place.  The Taliban are back more powerful than ever.

Still, the administration sees the fact that al Qaeda was not spreading terrorism around the world and in America as one of the successes of the war.  We degraded their capability, Biden claims.  It is true that there has not been a major attack on the United States since 9/11, but that may be because al Qaeda was too busy fighting and killing American and allied soldiers alongside their parent organization, the Taliban.  They helped kill a goodly number of those 2,400 U.S. military casualties – and others.  We shall now see how long al Qaeda AND the newly empowered Taliban sponsors confine their terrorism to Afghanistan.

In an amazing stretch of logic, administration officials are pointing to the improved quality of life in Afghanistan – especially for women – as an accomplishment.  That is until Biden ended it.  That is exactly what America surrendered to the Taliban when Biden pulled out.  We made the people of Afghanistan the victims with a grim future.  Our surrender left millions of people — who hate the Taliban and what they represent — in the hands of … the Taliban.  What the Biden folks point to as a temporary accomplishment is now better described as a human tragedy of monumental proportions.  

Millions of Afghans under the age of 35 have no formative experience living under Taliban oppression.  Allied presence in Afghanistan was the ONLY protection they had.  They will be the ongoing casualities for years to come.

The White House, the State Department and the Defense Department all read off the administration script – touting the removal of 120,000 evacuees in more than 14 days as the greatest airlift in history.  

Maybe so, but it does not seem so remarkable when you consider that the Atlanta airport processes more than 7 million people in the same time period – or 700 times more passengers each day.  If the United States had even reached even 10 percent of the Atlanta number, there would be more than 700,000 people flown to freedom instead of 120,000– or 1.7 percent of that Atlanta number.

Many of the C-10s left with empty seats – and a number of them sat on the tarmac throughout the evacuation.  There was enough capacity and time to take out another 10,000 to 20,000 people in the last few days — even at the rather slow 40-minute departure rate.  And thousands more if the departure rate was increased.

The military on the ground were charged with an impossible mission — and did the best with what they had.  It was the plan and the logistics that inhibited the evacuation effort.  Biden made a terrible decision and the top brass at the Pentagon implemented it badly.  It was a plan that was doomed to failure regardless of the best efforts on the part of those commissioned to carry out the flawed plan.   

And the plan was flawed because the details and conditions were largely imposed by the Taliban – and accepted by Biden.  

For the Taliban, the spoils of war include more than $250 billion dollars worth of some of the most advanced military equipment and weapons – including guns, ammunition, rocket launchers, weaponized Humvees, grenades, bombs, electronics, and a ready-to-fly air force.  The critically important intelligence gathering network has been shut down.  America lost what was previously described as “a critically important military air base” – the multi-billion-dollar Bagram Airfield.

President Biden had already surrendered at the time of his order to evacuate.  He suggested that the deadline might have to be advanced, but the Taliban said “no” – and Biden folded on that point.  He promised that America would stay until all Americans and special visa holders were taken out.  The Taliban said “no” – and even thwarted efforts of Americans and allies to get to the airport.  

Biden left perimeter security around the airport to the Taliban – and 13 young American troopers perished, along with more than 170 Afghan friends.  Biden’s abiding to Taliban orders also resulted in leaving behind hundreds of Americans and tens of thousands of Afghan friends.

Through the withdrawal, Biden administration officials – civilian and military – repeatedly claimed that we had to “rely on the Taliban” for any considerations – and they granted almost none.  Biden literally said that we cannot trust the Taliban and – in the next breath – said we must rely on them for both security and safe passage –and they betrayed us on both counts.

In an obedient pursuit of promised victory, 2,400 American service personnel (including my grandson) traveled to Afghanistan and died there.  And so did 3,800 private contractors, 1,100 allied personnel, and 66,000 Afghan soldiers and police – for a total of approximately 73,300 on our side.  Taliban losses have been estimated at approximately 50,000.  Apart from the military losses, more than 47,000 Afghan civilians died in the conflict – overwhelmingly people who opposed the Taliban rule.   They were relying on the promises of the United States to protect them.  Yes, these were brave souls and innocent souls – and they all died in vain.

In every way accountable, America lost the Afghanistan war.  We were defeated.  We had to surrender and accept all the terms of surrender laid down by the Taliban.  We were the Japanese on the Missouri – surrendering in World War II.   We were the Army of the Confederacy handing the sword of surrender at Appomattox – ending the Civil War.  

Now the Biden administration says that our mission has merely changed from a military one to a diplomatic mission – and that we have great leverage over the Taliban in order to get thousands of stranded Americans and Afghan friends out.  The only leverage they talk about is M-O-N-E-Y.  In other words, we might pay the Taliban to release those who may now be considered hostages.

As much as they may try, there is no amount of lipstick that can be put on this porker to make it anything but what it was – defeat, surrender and humiliation.  That is the legacy – the burden – that America shoulders for the foreseeable future.

But there is one significant difference between this surrender and what took place in World War II and the Civil War.  The victors stopped attacking the vanquished.  That is not likely to be the case with the Taliban.  We are now poised to lose the peace – such as it is.

So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.

14 Comments

  1. frank stetson

    $300 Million a day, Larry, that’s what staying in Afghanistan costs to stay the course. More if we want change. $3 Billion every 10 days Larry if we stayed. Over $9 billion every month Larry. We have been there 20 years improving things. How much more improvement do we need? Should we stay awhile, stay forever, annex the place? Because we can’t figure out how to get Afghans to take care of themselves in any other manner than by Taliban rule.

    That’s your starting point, $300 million per day. If you want change, you need to change something. Trump/Biden changed something here; we left. Our change, so far, is good. $300 million less per day good. American lives saved good. The cause of Democracy was not affected; Afghanistan really did not change.

    “There is an old story about a Civil War general…” how about this one: “having lost sight of our objective, we decided to redouble our efforts.” What did you want to happen Larry? $300 million a day? For what? That’s a long article, you have written others, but you have never suggested changes beyond not quitting, not making mistakes, not leaving.

    Are we safe? Here’s another old story from the region. “You have the watches. We have the time.” $300 million a day and the Taliban is still doing well for pennies a day.

    How about another story, supposedly true. Northwest Pakistan: Spring. The village men get together and decide who stays to maintain the village and who leaves to fight the Afghanistan occupation forces for the summer months before returning to the village for the Winter. Yes, they are going to Afghanistan, yes it’s not their country, yes, they don’t really love the Afghans, but they feel a moral obligation to push out the invaders. Who are the invaders? Russian, Americans, it does not matter. They are not Afghans.

    Another story. True. Children in the Taliban rich section of Afghanistan only play outside on cloudy bad weather days for fear of drone strikes. Do you blame that 5-year old for hating America? He’s had 20 years of it now and he’s ready to go to anyone recruiting guys with a hate on that can thrive under those conditions…

    Another story. True. North Vietnam. 5-year old hears explosion, is lifted off his bed, tossed on the floor as the American bombs rain down. He gets up and goes back to bed. You think that kid might grow up to be a battle hardened enemy? How you gonna fight someone who was raised that way, actually thinks that life under war is “normal”?

    Larry, everything has unintended outcomes, and 20 years of occupation is gonna stir up a lot of hate, for all sorts of unintended reasons, no matter how good you are. Afghanistan is not our country, we do not deserve to own it. We shouldn’t try. No matter what we were doing, 20 years in-country, with weapons, is an occupation force.

    What President would ever stand up and say: “ooops, we got our ass kicked, we’re running away.” That’s just life Larry. You really don’t want it any other way. We all know what happened. Trump tipped our hand, let 5,000 fighters out of prison, and Biden knew the play, knew it was blown, but blew the play anyway and still got the ball over the line, left the field, but forgot to take some of his equipment, left some team supporters behind, and ran off the field into the locker room. And it is over. No more of our kids will die in Afghanistan, no more $300 million per day.

    There it is. The question is what did you want to do different? $300 million a day Larry.

    Sure, would have done the Trump negotiations different, would have done the pullout different, would have known the government and army would collapse immediately and planned knowing that would happen. But we didn’t, we cut and ran, and now —- no more $300 million a day being spent in Afghanistan.

    I call that a good days work, big win for America. Would have liked better, would have liked to avoid the terror attack, but it’s done.

    Will it portend unintended outcomes. Absolutely. Do we know what, where and when? No. Not even close. How could we given how little we knew about Afghanistan after 20 years of $300 million a day? Now we test Taliban 2.0 to see if they are a world government or just a bunch of thugs harboring terrorists against America. Frankly, I would buddy up with them to smash ISIS K, a common enemy. And then see if though that relationship we can make sure they don’t harbor and also toss any Al Quada there. AlQ without Bin Laden is diminished, not sure what the Taliban would benefit from with a relationship with them, versus us, but it would be a good test to see what Taliban 2.0 is all about. As to their control of Afghanistan —- it’s their country, would handle just like NK, China, Russia, whatever. We are not the world’s police force for Democracy. Just want to be a shining light upon the hill again.

    What did you want to do to turn that one around?

    Reply
  2. Joe

    U must be living with your head up your rectom, if u believe america won the war, they ran with their tail between their legs, giving the terrorists the best arms in the world to take on anyone, including america. It couldn’t be a bigger blunder in American history, than what hidenbiden and his minions just did with the reteat from afghanistan.

    Reply
    • larry Horist

      Joe … with all due respect to your comment, did you bother to read the commentary — or any of my other recent commentaries. Obviously not. If you had even gotten to he third paragraph you would have known that the headline was a rhetorical question based on irony. I have repeated opined that the was was a failure — and the withdrawal was tantamount to a surrender. Do not just read headlines if you want to offer informed opinions.

      Reply
  3. Mike

    Larry, I don’t totally disagree with your thoughts, but you did really miss a few details. It was the Trump/Pompeo clan that surrendered to the Taliban. They surrendered without having the legitimate government that we supported for nearly 20 years involved at all. In addition, as part of their illegitimate negotiation, Trump forced the Afghan government to release 5000 political prisoners, many of whom are now part of the taliban government. Under Trump, the US was to pull out of Afghanistan by May 1. There was no preparation for said evacuation when Biden took office. Biden pushed the evacuation back several months (and possibly should have pushed it further), but do you honestly believe with advisors like Stephen Miller around that we would be bringing any significant numbers of Afghans to the US? Highly doubtful So, instead of criticizing Biden, and ignoring Trump’s complicity in the matter, perhaps giving a little credit to the largest humanitarian airlift in US history would be a more justified tact for you…

    Reply
  4. kenneth gray sraol mail

    WE could have won the war had the Military’s had orders to do it and were furnished enough Troop’s and equipment and leave the politicians out of it,

    Reply
  5. Ben

    William Ruger, who was chosen by Trump to be U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan in September of 2020 told Karl, “The fact is this was the Trump-Biden withdrawal.”
    Karl noted when the Pentagon announced the last troops left Afghanistan, Ruger tweeted, “Finally.”

    Trump reportedly invited retired Col. Douglas MacGregor to the White House after seeing him on Fox News arguing America should leave Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

    I also just read that The Taliban was will to surrender when America had won the war after 18 months. This was done with the condition of amnesty. Your buddy Rumsfeld convinced Bush that condition would never be agreed to. Until 18 years later when trump decided that was ok.
    I guess money talks. And Rumsfeld and Channey’s military industrial complex was screaming that there was money to be made.

    Think of how many of our kids died to prove a point that trump eventually said wasn’t worth proving.

    Reply
  6. Jack

    I sure would hate to lose if this is winning!

    Reply
  7. John J

    The sickening propaganda put out by the white house is worse than any ever thought of by the Russians or the Chinees

    Reply
    • Dan Tyree

      The current so called administration has blood on their hands

      Reply
  8. Richard Kroll

    Trump’s plan was conditions based. The Taliban understood that. Having a light footprint and no recent casualties (until the horrendously botched surrender) allowed us to prevent Afghanistan from serving as a training ground and operations center for global terror, including against the US. Missions not dissimilar to our military presence in Japan, South Korea and Germany for a lot longer than 20 years. Withdrawing air and intel support vital to the Afghan army guaranteed their immediate defeat. Failure to evacuate all civilians and allies prior to a change in the previously stable and effective military situation is an incredible dereliction of duty and a betrayal of immense magnitude. Doing all this without our allies’ knowledge guarantees our isolation for at least the foreseeable future. The incompetent and cowardly execution of this debacle couldn’t encourage our global adversaries more. Frank and Mike are entitled to their opinions, but, as Senator Moynihan famously remarked, they are not entitled to the own facts which apparent “inform” their hopelessly flawed opinions.

    Reply
  9. Joseph S. Bruder

    “There is an old story about a Civil War general who refused to admit”… How about the new story about the President who lost his election, but refused to admit it? You slavishly supported Trump throughout his administration, and now you like to say you never liked the guy.

    It was Trump who surrendered to the Taliban, and negotiated the terms to the pullout. I would note that Trump didn’t actually plan to do anything to accomplish the pullout, since he hadn’t pulled out any Afghan refugees for the last couple of years, and hadn’t pulled out a single American civilian by the time his term ended, even though it was scheduled for May 1st. That’s pretty much the story of Trump’s entire Presidency – big promises for later (like after the next election) and then hope the rubes forget (they always did). And the war could have been ended 18 months after it started, when the Taliban wanted to surrender and asked for amnesty as a condition. Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld snatched defeat from the arms of victory many years ago.

    You can boo-hoo all you want about the poor Afghans, but what did Trump do during his 4 years in office (besides SURRENDER)? He stopped the flow of immigration from there. Did Trump EVER do anything for women’s rights, in this country or Afghanistan?

    Biden got 123,000 people out of Afghanistan, under the conditions that were dictated to Trump. And how many did he actually get out of Syria after he surrendered there? You’ve already admitted (in another column) that Trump screwed up when you opined “Biden could have reversed the Trump policy there”. Besides the fact that Biden was hampered in the transition by Trump’s refusal to admit defeat, Trump threw the keys to all the Taliban in prison and had undermined the Afghanistan government. Biden was playing a bad hand dealt to him by the Joker…

    The US does still have control over the money. If the Taliban want a functioning government, they’re going to need support, or the country will go back to civil war. The Taliban is still outnumbered – the Afghan army vanished because they negotiated separately with the Taliban, but if the Taliban really goes nuts, the members of the former Afghan army still have several times the number of soldiers that the Taliban has. The US can make sure international aid is withheld if the Taliban doesn’t respect human rights (yeah, I know that’s not what Trump negotiated, but it’s what Biden will do to protect the Afghan populace).

    It’s in the history books now – Trump Surrendered to the Taliban, Biden Ended the War.

    Reply
    • Cindy severt

      That civil war general was probably a damned yankee

      Reply
  10. larry Horist

    Bruder … please stop lying about me. Since you seem to be obsessed on my commentaries, I assume you would have read those critical of Trump. To say that I have “slavishly supported Trump” is another of your lies. I choose to ignore your all too frequent ignorant misinformation, but the lies are about me need to be called out for what they are. Since we have never met, I wonder why you make this all so personal. You once said that you believed that you were in my head — not true. But I seem to have gotten under your skin. If you want to have a civil discourse, fine, Just top the lying.

    Reply

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