Afghanistan – 23 Aug 2021

Few of us who lived on 11 September 2001 will never forget that day. We gazed in disbelief at video footage of airliners flying into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Many of my coworkers in Fort Lewis, Washington, could not stop watching the news reports as buildings collapsed and casualties mounted. Within days, intelligence sources confirmed the culpability of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, and President George W. Bush deployed the first US Special Forces teams to avenge our dead on our enemies. Within months, US forces, along with allies from NATO and from the Northern Alliance, toppled the Taliban and began building a new and free Afghanistan.

Or so we believed. Last week, America’s twenty-year, $2 trillion campaign in Afghanistan ended in humiliation. Resurgent Taliban forces overran the county, finally taking the capital city of Kabul before the Americans even left. The nation was devastated and the people were in a panic. Thousands of Afghanis rushed the airport, trying to get on any plane out. People grabbed on to departing aircraft and fell to their deaths. On 30 April 1975, I watched footage of US helicopters lifting off from the roof of our embassy in Saigon, Vietnam, carrying fleeing staffers as the victorious North Vietnamese Army rolled into the fallen capital. I never thought that I would see such a spectacle again, but here it was, on 15 August 2021.

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