Afghanistan: Was it Worth the Cost in Blood and Treasure?

Top illustration by Tim Forkes

Many of you will read this and think I am un-American for what I say. If you do, you probably have been brainwashed. You see, since Desert Storm, 31 years ago, supporting a military that can go into nations far from our backyard and kick ass has become the thing to support. Unfortunately, it has not led to any military success as was the case then. In fact, Our war record is not that great for over the last century.

We won three wars, WWI, WWII, and Desert Storm while also losing three, Vietnam, post 9/11 Iraq, and now Afghanistan. We fought to a draw in Korea.

This is not exactly a military record to hang our hats on considering our government doles out more money each year to the military than do the next dozen or more nations combined. Since 9/11, we spent over a trillion dollars to essentially kill Osama bin Laden. Iraq is still a mess and, in less time than it takes Congress to approve military funding, the Taliban have run over Afghanistan before we can fully pull out. There was never any fear among the Taliban of our military nor was there any doubt they would be victorious. All it took was patience and a continual game of hide and seek to defeat the largest military in the history of mankind.

In the nearly two decades we have occupied Afghanistan, they have been unable to form a government that can stand on its own or have a military force capable of defending itself from a bunch of rock dwelling men who have swiftly taken what they want. Who knows what we are leaving behind in terms of useful military equipment that will only be used against the citizens we have abandoned? The acts of atrocity that are befalling many Afghans are no more crimes against humanity than what we have done to the people there who trusted us and counted on us to provide them with hope and opportunity.

What was the point of all this?

The American men and women who fought and died there have also been spit on by a government that accomplished nothing. When I say government, I mean left and right, blue and red, elected and appointed.

What has unfolded since our pull out began is not a surprise, other than the swiftness of it. All the experts spoke up and voiced to any elected leader, whether he was named Trump or Biden, this is what would happen. Every Afghan woman, child, interpreter, or politician murdered, raped, beaten, and made an example of has our government to hate more than the Taliban. We stayed where we never belonged in the first place for nothing more than to feed our military complex and our insatiable thirst to prove to the world no one fucks with the USA. The joke is on us, and the Taliban are laughing hysterically.

What was accomplished?

We proved we can fight two wars in far off places under false pretense and remain there long enough to watch our economy collapse while failing to join the 21st century. All the weaponry, manpower, gadgets, and nation building accomplished nothing. In the process, we are one-fifth of the way through this century and only now starting to address our long declining infrastructure because we have been brainwashed to think fighting these God forsaken wars is more important than meeting the needs of our own nation. Any way you try to spin this, we lost a war and, in the process, fell 20 years behind more enlightened nations who hit this century with an eye toward the future.

We clung to our tired old ways because our leaders have no use for studying our history let alone the history of our enemies. A trillion-dollar investment into our nation’s well-being would have us light years ahead of any other nation in the world. Instead, we insisted on fighting a damn war while China has moved forward in ways we can only dream of.

When your enemies live underground in tunnels, hide inside caverns or caves, or just blend in with our friends on the ground, you have no way of defeating them with the tactics we use. Why engage them, especially when what is at stake is a land of rocks and dirt?

Unfortunately, as I stated before, we have been brainwashed by a structure of leadership in our nation that would have us believe there can’t be a price tag placed on human lives in the name of freedom, especially when the bill is being paid by the voting taxpayer.

Sadly, in another 20 years, textbooks in public schools will barely mention this horrific failure, just as they gloss over Vietnam. Why teach us valuable lessons when by then, we will most likely be involved in some other pointless war and failing to address the real concerns we have here at home.

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UPDATE: As of Sunday morning, August 15, 2021, it is reported the Taliban have entered the capital of Afghanistan, Kabul, and are waiting for a peaceful transfer of power. The Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, has already fled the country and thousands of Afghan citizens, fearing the brutal oppression of the Taliban, are fleeing their homes, hoping to be evacuated by the United States and other western nations that are evacuating their embassies.

The Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has rejected comparisons to the evacuation of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War, but the photos and videos showing packed helicopters leaving the roof of the embassy in Kabul tell a much different story.

Endless hours and tax dollars will go into investigations and hearings about how and why, after hundreds of billions of dollars in training and equipment, the Afghan military collapsed so quickly and completely.

The Afghan government, for all intents and purposes, has fallen.

One more update: The U.S. flag over the U.S. Embassy has been lowered, the final step in the U.S. departure from Afghanistan.