Re: Guest Column “Learning the Hard Lessons of Vietnam Once Again in Afghanistan” (8/31-9/6, 2021)
General Donald B. Smith’s alarmist column about our leaving Afghanistan is awash with wildly displaced anger. The General blames our loss on politics, but he himself sees the war through a political lens, complaining about a “weak President” and moral leadership being hampered by “progressive notions of political correctness.”
He argues that we stay in Afghanistan forever, spending trillions upon trillions of tax dollars, and continuing to endanger the lives of American soldiers and Afghan civilians. The Taliban was never a danger to the US; Osama Bin Laden was, and we killed him a decade ago. Terrorists can strike from anywhere; remaining in Afghanistan guaranteed nothing. The US currently has over 800 military bases in more than 70 countries. They certainly didn’t prevent 9/11, so let’s stop believing that sprinkling American soldiers throughout the world is the answer to our security.
Americans are fed up with never-ending wars without any stated definitions of success. Any honest analysis of what went wrong must acknowledge that military leadership has served as an active partner, planner, and propagator of all of them. The 18th-century view of war—massive armies meeting on a battlefield with rules of engagement—has little bearing in the modern world. Relying on this antiquated model, the US has failed to win every major war since World War II. When will we learn?
Chaos at the end of the Afghanistan war was inevitable, so much so that Bush, Obama, and Trump all avoided it. Biden did what he promised in his campaign and why so many of us voted for him. Biden will be remembered as a hero for cutting the cord and removing us from this boondoggle.