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Tulsa World editorial: A disgraceful exit from Afghanistan

Tulsa World editorial: A disgraceful exit from Afghanistan

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Cartoon: Stranded in Kabul by Jeff Koterba (copy)

The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan was poorly conceived and botched in execution.

It left individuals we had explicitly or implicitly promised to protect in the hands of people with a history of ruthless, intolerant, ugly violence.

It undercuts faith in our promises to other nations: Israel, Taiwan, Ukraine, South Korea …

It emboldens our rivals for international leadership, especially China.

It made a trillion dollars in tax money and more than 2,400 U.S. military lives — and many more physically and psychologically injured Americans and allies — seem wasted.

The Taliban was in power when we started, and now they are again, though much of the nation and uncounted numbers of Afghans were left mutilated in the process.

American policy in Afghanistan has lacked purpose or a realistic exit strategy virtually from the beginning.

We went there to punish the despicable criminals who attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, and those who had shielded them. We did that. Eventually, Osama bin Laden was killed (in Pakistan). Many of his henchmen were killed or captured, too. The Taliban were pushed into retreat.

But we found that once we were there, we didn’t know how to get out. Wars are sticky. They’re hard to put down once you pick them up.

We ended up in a two-decade nation-building farce in a place with no sense of nationality. We marched in circles, trying to bring American ideals of democracy and civil liberties to a nation that lacked fundamental social infrastructure beyond tribalism. The hydra snake grew two new heads for every one we cut off.

In that sense, the war was lost long before Joe Biden was elected president. There was no “win” on the horizon, and the U.S. public was determined to move on — America First.

Certainly, the answer was not to continue doing what we were doing. Another 20 years and another trillion dollars wouldn’t have led to a better result.

But that doesn’t excuse the way we left or the damage it did to our nation.

Every president from George W. Bush forward failed to get the U.S. out of Afghanistan, the longest war in U.S. history.

Biden did get us out, but at great cost to our international reputation and national honor. He can, with some justification, blame others for the bad hand he was dealt, but the disgrace happened on his watch. It is his responsibility.

Related video:

Aug. 16, 2021 video. Oklahoma Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt praised service members and was highly critical of President Biden's handling of the situation in Afghanistan


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