Thirteen years ago we invaded Afghanistan to rid the nation of Taliban control. Last week we removed the last American and British troops from the Helmand province and, for all of our efforts, large swaths of the province remain under Taliban control. About 400 British troops and 350 American Marines were killed in Helmand province, and billions were spent, all to leave some territory, two bases, an airstrip, and security in the hands of the Afghan government forces. Nobody seems all that optimistic.
Speaking of the security situation in Helmand, Mir Wali Khan, a member of parliament from Helmand province tells the Washington Post, “It’s much, much worse compared to last year. Without support from foreign troops, they do not have the support. So with the withdrawal, it will only get worse, and our Afghan forces will not be able to fight against the enemy.”
In other words, it won’t be long before we are back to square one, exactly where we were 13 years ago.
In late September the Obama administration announced an agreement to leave 10,000 troops in other parts of Afghanistan, perhaps an admission that the failure to leave a similarly sized force in Iraq is what permitted the rise of ISIS. We’ll also be spending $8 billion a year for military assistance. In addition to military equipment, we pay the salaries of the Afghan army so that they’ll fight the Taliban.
One Afghan said of the agreement, “If we don’t sign the BSA, our forces won’t be paid. If our forces are not paid, they don’t fight the Taliban. If they don’t fight, the Taliban will be back.” Yes, this sounds like a winning strategy.
Is there anyone who doesn’t now think that if we’d reacted to 9/11 by doing nothing but reinforcing cockpit doors and stepping up airline security we’d be better off than we are now? And yet what do you think will be the American reaction the next time we are hit with a terrorist attack? Will we learn from failing in Iraq? Will we learn from failing in Afghanistan? Of course not.
I’m beginning to think that the best reaction to a terrorist attack would be to ask, “What would Jesus do?” and then turn the other cheek. And I’m not even a Christian.