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The tragedy of Afghanistan

The tragedy of Afghanistan

For more than 20 years, American soldiers have fought and died in Afghanistan.  Many who survived came home badly wounded and disabled.  Others suffered the mental and emotional traumas associated with warfare.  Some of them have since committed suicide.

The issue of Afghanistan is very personal to me my family.  I lost my Marine grandson in that war.  At the time of his death, I wrote that I did not want to see him having died in vain.  He and those others who fought and died in the sands of Afghanistan are national heroes, but the deaths were still in vain –because American leaders chose to drag the war on for two decades and then retreat in defeat.

Some argue today that our only purpose for going into Afghanistan was to get Osama bin Laden and break the back of al-Qaeda. It was never to drive out the Taliban.  Never to do nation building.  But we found and killed bin Laden 10 years ago – and we still have not destroyed al-Qaeda or ISIS, for that matter.  

And we did engage in nation building by helping to develop a more democratic and less oppressive government in Kabul.  The people of Afghanistan – especially the women and schoolgirls – enjoyed a new era of freedom.  All that is now lost.

Today the Taliban are swiftly taking over the nation they ruthlessly ruled over at the beginning of the war.  America and the civilized world gained nothing.  The Taliban will be more powerful than ever for having beaten the allegedly most powerful nation in the world into submission.  Terrorist organizations, such as al-Qaeda and ISIS, will again have a state sponsor – a safe haven from which to continue their attack on the civilized world.

The undeclared war in Afghanistan continued through four presidencies – two Republican and two Democrat.  Afghanistan has been a bipartisan failure on top of a succession of failures in other nations – Korea, Vietnam, Syria, Iraq.  The folks in Washington – who oversaw this slow-moving disaster – will not admit that we were defeated in these wars.  They prefer the euphemism that we “got out” of the conflicts.

President Eisenhower got the United States out of the Korean War.  President Nixon got us out of the Vietnam war.  President Obama got us out of Iraq and Syria.  And now President Biden got America out of Afghanistan.  We got out because we refused to win.  Ergo, we lost.

Not only did America lose these wars, but we turned out back on the indigenous people who fought side-by-side with our forces on the ground.  We left behind the Hmong to be slaughter in the killing fields of Cambodia and Vietnam. Left behind the Kurds and the freedom fighters in Syria.

And now we are leaving behind those who served America in Afghanistan.  At this very moment, men, women and children are being slaughtered.  As are the provincial officials as the Taliban continues to claim more land and more cities.  And the worst is yet to come.

Biden assured those who served as interpreters, advisors and fellow combatants that we would not leave them and their families behind.  He was lying the very moment he made that promise.  He knew that there was no plan to rescue them.  They were being hunted down and killed at the very time Biden offered those meaningless and dishonest words.

Biden lied when he told the American people that the Afghanistan government was now strong enough to hold back the Taliban.  He lied when he told the president of Afghanistan that we would still have the government’s back.

Biden says that our soldiers will be completely out of Afghanistan except for a couple thousand to project the U.S. embassy and the Kabul airport.  I would bet that we will be pulling them out when the Taliban begin their assault on the Afghan capital.  America’s latest retreat.

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.

22 Comments

  1. Dan Tyree

    Retard joe is killing this country. I can’t help but believe that the “handlers “ that republicans talk about are the taliban and other anti American groups. Which is strong supporters of the commiecrats

  2. Ben

    “This was always going to be the result. No matter who finally decided enough is enough. The war really had no plan,Rumsfeld and Bush just had the thirst for vengeance and the opportunity to feed the war machine that is America.
    The longest war in our history, spanning the Presidencies of 4 men and never a plan on how to get out. This war could go on perpetually for what? Trump set the wheels in motion, but didn’t pull the trigger. Biden finally had the balls to say enough is enough.
    Regardless of which party the President represented, or when they finally decided to leave, this was always going to be the outcome.

    WE have done immeasurable harm in the Middle East over the last 50 years in the name of American interests, how many more soldiers, (grandsons)must die. How many more terrorists are we going to create by blindly bombing civilians under the guise of “ Protecting America”?
    It’s time. I will give props to trump for him planting the seeds of this withdraw. In this case, the America First rally cry from the right, actually is the right call.

    What a fucking waste of life and gold.

    • Nitpicker

      You “give props to trump”. Wow, that must have painful for you to admit. Everywhere I’ve see you posting your TDS is obvious, as is your “love bombing”. So phony.

      • Ben

        Picker,
        No, I am sincere. And it wasn’t hard to say that. I am anti interventionist, anti preemptive war, anti military industrial complex. We , and by that, I mean our poorest kids, have no business dying in some other nation for NOTHING!

        I am also glad that trump diverted billions of funds away from the Military to build his wall. Not because I support his wall, but because this really does illustrate how bloated the Military budget really is.

        And for the record, I am firmly against the next Republican War.

  3. Joe S Bruder

    It’s disingenuos to blame Biden for the deaths of interpreters. It was Trump, as far back as May 2019 who drastically reduced the number of visas for Afghans, and then in August 2019 completely closed the door on US immigration from there by requiring multiple forms of ID (in a war zone with a weak, almost non-existent government). More than 4,000 were cleared in fiscal year 2017, compared with about 1,650 in 2018. By the time Biden got into office, there was a backlog of 20,000 interpreters and 50,000 members of their families. Biden has relaxed the rules, and is evacuating them by the planeloads. And in light of the Taliban’s rapid advance, he sent 3000 troops back to help with the evacuation of interpreters and US personnel.

    But the “original sin” goes back to Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld. The 911 attack was carried out by Saudi citizens, but Bush et al used the 911 attack as an excuse to go into Iraq and Afghanistan. They lied their asses off to get us intothose wars, knowing full well that the Soviets were mired in the muck in Afghanistan for 20 years.

    Trump deserves no props for Afghanistan – he promised to end that war, and did absolutely nothing except stop refugees coming from there to the US, building up the backlog that you suddenly have compassion for (when you think you can blame it on a Democrat). It was Bush’s mess, and it was always going to be a mess. Biden deserves the credit for at least pulling us out. If we had never gone there, the government of Afghanistan may or may not have beat the Taliban, but Bush gave them the spark they needed to recruit and grow their organization.

    I’m sorry about your grandson – but please remember it was Republican policies that put him there. Maybe when Republicans admit that global warming is real and that conservation, efficiency, and solar and wind power can replace oil, the US will finally let go of our obsession with oil and starve Middle East of its resources and importance.

    • Dan Tyree

      It wasn’t about the oil you idiots. Our country was attacked by rag heads. You damned fools probably wish more Americans had died, seeing how you hate the country They should have been nuked

    • Nitpicker

      More gaslighting B.S. No matter how many words you use, you cannot obfuscate the fact that the Biden administration is an abject failure on every level.

  4. frank stetson

    Good opinion piece Larry. I am sorry for your loss, thank you and your family for your service to our Nation. Our folks did their best in an impossible situation even with our leader’s lack of attention, purpose, and focus. It’s always amazing to me how they keep each other safe, although tragedies do occur.

    There are no good wars, not even the ones we win. George Bush Sr. knew that, his son did not. His son should have known better, had the focus, not change the mission and lose our mission focus. We rule the Earth with death from above, we can destroy infrastructure sending people back to the dark ages in a few days. But to nation build, you either need the hearts and minds, genocide and/or a police force which our military should not be. IMO, we should have pulled out from Afghanistan right after Bin Laden was destroyed. The goal was to get justice and diminish Al Qaeda; that was done then. Iraq is more difficult, there is the oil, and difficult to toss that baby out with the bathwater. Syria too has international significance with Russian involvement on top, very difficult. But changing mission statement, strategies, and Presidents muddles the waters and, unfortunately, our youngest, best, and brightest pay the cost.

    The other issue is we can not nation build alone. Unless there is a world coalition, we should not proceed alone to nation build, ever. We are not the world’s policemen, our military are not trained to be policemen and we don’t want that. We must have the world on our side before we nation build. Again, George Bush Sr. laid out the model for that.

    In Afghanistan we did try to get the Afghan people to stand up and be responsible for their lands. We did try to get the world to support the effort. Our bravest who gave their all attempted that with their sacrifice, they did a good job. We tried, our folks did their job, and you are correct we lost. We should have accepted that many lives ago.

    And then Biden most certainly spun the extraction, especially the “we will leave some troops to protect our embassy and the airport, which is some distance from the embassy” when it was and is obvious we would face a “fall of Saigon” experience. While he severely screwed up the time window, he acted as if it were a maybe rather than the obvious reality. I say he lied on this one, perhaps to make the Afghans feel better, to make us feel better, but it was destined to blow up in his face. Just amazing how fast.

    My feeling is we are right to pull out, at this point there would never be a good time, but doing the right thing the wrong way is not good for our country, our people, and Joe’s image. Sure, Don set him up by breaking the first rule of engagement — tipping your hand with your plan and your timeline — the Taliban could start their plans and actions in February of 2020. But Joe should have known this, and factored it into his plan that the Taliban would be ripe and ready once the final withdrawal happened. He fucked up, IMO.

    Again, thank you and your family for your sacrifice, I just don’t think this was winnable, ever, and it’s time not to lose any more. I just don’t see any way to pull a win out of this one.

    • Nitpicker

      “He fucked up, IMO.”

      It’s about time you admitted it Frank. Too bad you wrapped it up in a love bomb, and to Larry of all people. Good luck with that!

  5. Ben

    New: Republican Party has removed a page from their website bragging about Trump’s deal with the Taliban that committed Biden to withdraw 5,000 US troops from Afghanistan — and led to the fall of Kabul today.

  6. Ben

    Larry, you seem obsessed with how we got out of these “wars” or conflicts, but not with the idea that we should have never been there in the first place.

  7. Ben

    “I started the process, all the troops are coming home, they (Biden) couldn’t stop the process. 21 years is enough. They (Biden) couldn’t stop the process, they (Biden) wanted to but couldn’t stop the process.”

    – Trump, 1 month ago

  8. frank stetson

    Ben, come on, be honest, nothing forced Biden to honor Trump’s mistake; it’s appears it’s the only Trump program he has honored and look where that’s getting him. Trump may have set the stage in the stupidest of fashions, announcing the plan and the timing, not to mention peace in our time with the Taliban, but perhaps Trump even set a trap for the next guy, a pile to step into. Doesn’t matter, Biden made the decision, he owns the turn down and extraction.

    IMO, even if you know he’s doing the right thing, and I think he is, Biden is certainly doing the right thing the wrong way. Really wrong. Hopefully not the worst way, but only time will tell and it looks pretty chaotic over there for everyone except the Taliban who apparently started planning to do us in as soon as Trump sealed the deal and claimed “mission completed!”

    • Ben

      Frank, this whole thing is heart breaking. I simply supply a counter narrative to the echo chamber of the PBP.
      20 fucking years, FOUR Presidents, 84 billion dollars, and countless lives. Enough is enough. It didn’t matter if we left after 18 months when Bush declared mission accomplished, after 10 yrs of war, or 10 yrs from now. This was ALWAYS going to be the outcome.

      I’d like to think that we finally learn our lesson and stay out of other peoples business. Imagine if Reagan hadn’t armed and taught Bin Laden all those years ago.

      This sucks, but blaming Biden is disingenuous and partisan. Every single one of us bears responsibility for this debacle.

    • Ben

      Frank, have you wondered if the withdrawal would have gone smoother if trump hadn’t allowed the Taliban to negotiate the release of 5,000 of their prisoners before we left? Including the presumptive new Taliban leader…

  9. Ben

    KABUL, AFGHANISTAN—As reporters, news crews, and pundits rushed to evacuate from Hamid Karzai International Airport, the United States completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan Monday, thereby marking the end to the longest media farce in American history.

    “Today, 20 years after the first invasion, we are finally concluding our nation’s longest-ever campaign of media hot air and bullshit punditry,” said Georgetown University historian Alan Hawthorne, adding that the media’s mission to sell the American public on the essentially impossible goal of establishing a self-sufficient government in Afghanistan had dragged on through two decades, four presidents, and three generations of journalists.

    “Ever since the attacks on September 11, the U.S. media machine has sacrificed countless hours of prime-time coverage to validate the idea that we could accomplish something of lasting value to Afghanistan, struggling valiantly against common sense and any inkling of skepticism toward the policy establishment. Of course, America’s newspapers engaged in similar campaigns in Vietnam, Korea, and Iraq. But none lasted so long, and few mischaracterized the situation so thoroughly to the American people.”

  10. Ben

    Jeff Tiedrich
    raise your hand if you would like to see Trump and Pompeo and Kushner testify under oath in front of Congress for 11 straight hours on live television to explain why it was so important to release five thousand Taliban militants from prison and how much did they profit from it

    • Uncle Tom

      Retard joe should sit before congress and testify what his role in the fast and furious scandal was. Remember that the mulatto from Kenya and his idiot vice partner in crime deliberately armed Mexican cartels

      • Ben

        Larry,
        Damn, this article’s responses reference the Kenyan Mulatto. Dan, as a follow up to saying Jungle Bunny and just flat out saying the N word has used camel jockeys, sand n*g gers, and towel heads in another article.

        Did you want to readdress your “post racial” comments?

        I do love that you allow your readers to openly express themselves. It seems to be indicative of your readers and the GOP at large. Thank you for exposing conservatives for what they are.
        Keep up the good work.

  11. frank stetson

    For any action, there can be unintended circumstances. Sure, Reagan trained and armed Bin Laden, that doesn’t say the exact same thing wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t. We learned from Vietnam about the “hearts and minds,” and how we are not good at nation building, especially in totally corrupt societies that don’t want to make the sacrifices to be free. In the case of North Vietnam, they wanted democracy and a constitution like ours, and we spurned them in favor of a corrupt culture in the South. In Afghanistan, we faced a corrupt national government, always has been, and local tribes that have tossed all invaders. They don’t even care how good and nice and kind the invader is: the national government cozies up and takes the cash, and the tribes patiently wait to throw the invaders out. Heck, each Spring in NW Pakistan the local village men get together and draw lots on who goes, who stays. Those who stay take care of the village, those who go, go to kill the invaders in Afghanistan and then return home before the Winter. How you gonna beat that?

    While everyone is culpable for the mess we are in; no, I think Biden owns the departure, and the departure sucks. Sounds like he did not even engage the Taliban during any of this. If that did not happen, that’s just stupid. Yes, we needed to do it IMO, but we should have done it right, not this way, not with these obvious Biden lies. This is not his shining moment, although I don’t know any President in our history that has ever done it right. Great idea but no Mulligan on the botched implementation. Those pictures will last a few generations as our testimony to our mistake. From Blinken though the military through intelligence, Biden better make some changes, somebody gave him some bad advise.

    After we level a country, our military is not trained for the mop up police actions, nor do we want to train them for that versus training them to do what they do best: war. So, to keep them there as policemen for 20 years is bad for the country and bad for us.

    Likewise, while our logistics are the best in the world, we have never lost and left successfully yet. Again, our training fails us.

    • Ben

      Frank,
      Thank you for the well thought out response. We aren’t far from being on the same page. Biden has wanted to get out since he was Vice President. But this was always going to be the outcome, that’s why no one else would pull the trigger. It did not help that trump negotiated the release of all Taliban prisoners PRIOR to our exit.
      I’m not saying that Biden has his hands totally clean of this. Mistakes were made… BUUTTTTT… the task was was impossible to begin with, and made infinitely more difficult with the negotiations that trump saddled Biden with.
      I agree that we need to be the worlds EMT, and NOT the world’s police from here on out. We just can’t seem to learn ( or there’s too much money to be made?) from our continuous foreign policy mistakes.

  12. Ben

    President Trump’s Disgraceful Peace Deal with the Taliban

    BY DAVID FRENCH
    Time, MARCH 3, 2020

    Excerpt…

    If you read the peace agreement itself, you’ll note immediately that it gives the Taliban a series of concrete, measurable gifts. First, there’s an immediate allied withdrawal – down to 8,600 American troops (and proportionate numbers of allied troops) within 135 days. The remainder of American and allied forces will leave within 14 months.

    At the same time, the United States will immediately and substantially reinforce the Taliban by seeking the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners by March 20. Even worse, the United States further agreed to a goal of “releasing all remaining prisoners over the course of the subsequent three months.” It will do this at the same time that it commits to the “goal” of removing sanctions from members of the Taliban that include travel bans, asset freezes, and an arms embargo.

    The combination of the planned American retreat and the planned prisoner release would represent a substantial change in the balance of forces in Afghanistan. This would come without any agreement by the Taliban to cease hostilities against our allies.

    At this point, the deal looks worse than a simple withdrawal. America can leave all on its own without also agreeing to seek the release of Taliban prisoners. It can leave all on its own without promising to ease sanctions. So why agree to the additional concessions?

    America is making these concrete concessions in exchange for unenforceable promises from an untrustworthy enemy. The Taliban promise that they will not allow its members or members of al-Qaeda to use Afghan soil to threaten American national security. The promise to “send a clear message” that those who threaten the United States “have no place in Afghanistan.” Yet the agreement released to the public provides no verification or enforcement provisions for these assurances, and once America is out of Afghanistan, our ability to enforce those promises absent a new, substantial military buildup will be limited to nonexistent.