Afghanistan: The Humanitarian and Political mess of a 20 year exercise in futility and its’ ripple effect on those who served and are currently there.
Most of us only know the Dunkirk as a WW2 movie as the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and other Allied troops from the French seaport of Dunkirk (Dunkerque) to England. In 2021, the world is facing its’ modern-day equivalent. But Kabul is not Dunkirk. Allied Forces in WW2 turned the tide and eventually saved Europe from Nazi rule. In Kabul, Coalition Forces fought a completely unwinnable battle while training Afghan forces. Now, in a manner of days, Al Qaeda managed to crush Afghan forces, and any Coalition accomplishment over the last 20 years. Now, the threat of a newly armed Taliban is poised outside of Hamid Karzai Airport, and they’re methodically tightening their figurative noose.
As of this writing, Al Jazeera has reported upwards of 28,000 have been evacuated from Afghanistan. The lion’s share by the US, followed by Great Britain, Germany, then 17 more nations. Most recently, commercial airlines have been conscripted to assist in the evacuation. Although their (commercial airline’s) involvement is limited to staging areas in Kuwait and Qatar.
But what happens as we get closer to August 31st? The Taliban has made that date their “red line.” History has proven the Taliban cannot be trusted to keep their word. Unless their word means to religiously oppress women and subject an archaic, misogynistic and religiously extreme hypocritical government.
My understanding of the Taliban is, they prefer to not be part of any modern vice. Maybe because all things ‘modern’ detract from their focus on Islam. That is, unless you’re talking Opium, mining or extortion. Then it’s ok.
As in most of my writings, I digress. But what happens if the US must still evacuate people after August 31st? Well, according to Taliban spokesman, Suhail Shaheen; “If they extend it, that means they are extending occupation. … It will create mistrust between us, “If they are intent on continuing the occupation, it will provoke a reaction”… I’m pretty certain what that means.
A recent White House press conference once again parroted Pres. Biden’s objective for Afghanistan. Press Secretary Jen Psaki conveyed; “The President conveyed that our mission in Kabul will end based on the achievement of our objectives,” “He confirmed we are currently on pace to finish by August 31st and provided an update on progress in evacuating Americans who want to come home, third-country nationals, and Afghans who were our allies during the war.”
But as idealistic or be it over-confident as POTUS and his administration may sound. The Taliban changed the rules and their “game” that Afghans will not be allowed to leave. POTUS is either sticking to his guns, or acquiescing to the inherent fear of what the Taliban can and may do that drives his caution. I can understand that, to a point. But, like many Americans, I’m not privy to all the intel except for what we see in the news media. What I am certain of, is that POTUS/America is in a race against time and I fear we’re losing that race.
I imagine those of us that have worked in Afghanistan are personally, professionally, and emotionally conflicted as to what is happening. We may be feeling a sense of failure or embarrassment. My first reaction was that everyone’s efforts were wasted. I immediately thought of a friend that lost her life in Afghanistan while providing educational materials to a school. I thought her accomplishments were reduced by the failure of US policy. I felt as if we let her down. And then a good friend reminded me; “We accomplished what we went there originally to do.”
But, it’s still hard not to take it personally. Because no matter how much we criticized Afghanistan while we were there, we didn’t realize how much we became somewhat endeared to the people and their simplicity. We never truly realized how much they just desired to eek out a living and care for their families without being bothered. And, we didn’t realize how little we actually helped them. The US and Coalition partners were so busy doing it all for them, that we never developed a plan on how to leave them with enough confidence to get the job done. We just left, and that region became ripe for a new level of terror.
Then in a manner of days, it was over before they could even begin.