The following op-ed is the second of two parts. Part I, published last week, may be found here.
Reflecting on the horrors detailed in Part I of this two-part post, this writer's expertise and instincts lead him to believe America’s Afghanistan nightmare will continue for years to come.
How ironic it is, that our name for a 20-plus year, infinite war was "Operation Enduring Freedom" (OEF).
As it turned out, freedom had a finite end: Aug. 31, 2021.
That 's the day the Taliban said that we had better be gone by.
One supposes "Operation-Freedom-Will-Endure-Until-Aug. 31-2021," didn’t have quite the ring to it.
To be fair, we must ask whether or not this disaster was the current administration's to handle or not. Should we have still been there?
Admittedly, when the Twin Towers fell on Sept. 11, 2001, this writer found solace and inspiration in President George W. Bush's words at the time, that what would follow is a "different kind of war," (some of it visible and some of it hidden), and that we would put our enemies "at risk globally."
Naively, this writer sincerely believed we would be fighting a war with minimal ground forces, husbanding our resources to surgically get at the terrorists (mostly from the air and space) while our government exploited their networks and vaporized their funding.
This assumption proved wrong.
Our immediate response to the Taliban leveraging conventional, special, and Afghan Northern alliance forces was brilliant.
The enemy was quickly blindsided, demoralized, and without global power projection.
Perhaps it was an ideal time in those early days to warn Afghanistan of a dark future, while our forces returned home. We'll likely never know.
What we did know at the start of OEF came previous lessons learned, all purchased with American blood:
- Winning a war requires a shared national sacrifice — "go shopping" is not a battle cry (think World War II).
- Hearts and minds campaigns don’t work (think Vietnam).
- Victory will never be achieved without an equally declared and defined end state we wish to achieve.
Less than two weeks after the Taliban entered Kabul on Aug. 6, 2021, this writer's cellphone lit up with requests from Afghanis, who received word through the rumor mill that I might be able to provide a lifeline for their escape from terrorist rule.
My limitations saddened me. I joined others in seeking to extract them, while leveraging the megaphone I had not considered using for years.
The microphone that is Newsmax enabled me to analyze this historic defeat and contextualize it for Americans here at home.
Following one of those early "Wake Up America," segments, (on Newsmax), I recevied video clips (from someone I'll identify only as "Khan"). These videos of atrocities, were underway by the Taliban, who at the same time were assuring U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken that they were the "new and reformed" Taliban.
The sender's videos are blood curdling. They show executions and tortures.
Such horrors could not be shown to a TV audience; but what this writer can relay are Khan's terrified cries of "Please help me General Holt!"
"They (Taliban) are looking for me … I am a friend of America … I am almost with visa … they will kill me."
There were more just like Khan, sending reports of terror sweeping Afghanistan to my cellphone, daily — for weeks.
I worked with an inspiring U.S. military spouse who plugged me into heroic volunteer groups such as, Nazarene, Argo, Dynamo, and Pineapple.
Many Afghanis and U.S. citizens expatriated safely can thank these heroes.
In the press the State Department reported full cooperation with these organizations. The opposite was true as flight clearances were canceled, safe passages not coordinated, and countries simply turned away based on pressure from U.S. diplomacy.
By September of 2021, America had not only abandoned friends and citizens in Afghanistan, but partners and allies as well, along with billions in some of the most sophisticated weaponry.
Armaments courtesy of the American taxpayer.
Vladimir Putin capitalized on America’s Afghanistan distraction (and perceived weakness) to build up Russia’s presence along the Ukrainian border.
China, North Korea, and Iran each reassessed — not just our military might, but the political will to win. Is there anyone in the audience who didn’t think that all our adversaries sidled up at the bar to get their hands on our weapons with the intent to reverse-engineer our technology?
The clear and present danger is not just abject lack of accountability one year later, but a National Security team on the front lines of failure.
Congress continues to raid our Treasury. Why?
President Biden and his shaky cabinet undermine American strength and standing among allies and adversaries.
Concurrently, Russian aggression remains on the move — at high-speed.
China’s "Belt and Road" initiative continues its coercive diplomacy, now with 150 nations.
The famine soon to engulf 70-plus million people globally looms, and American leadership in Washington, D.C. shows no signs of lifting crushing regulatory requirements and restrictions on farmers.
These scenarios can no longer be merely glossed over.
What started in Afghanistan last year has repercussions domestically, globally — for not only today, but for tomorrow — and well into the future.
We must continue to revisit Kabul and Afghaistan, and our accompanying national and global shame until we fully embrace accountability.
Afghanistan may not seek our involvement, but the reality is, global safety and security demand it.
Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Blaine Holt is a co-founder of Restore Liberty, former Deputy Representative to NATO, lifetime member on the Council on Foreign Relations and Newsmax Contributor. The views presented are those of the author and do not represent the views of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, or its components. Read Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Blaine Holt's reports — More Here.
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