Have We Learned Our Lesson Yet?

Have We Learned Our Lesson Yet?
AP Photo/Rahmat Gul

America has a lesson to learn from the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan. The situation on the ground is shaping up to be yet another disaster that the Biden administration can add to its growing list of issues it has mishandled. Still, amid the chaos and uncertainty, there is one question that sticks in my craw: Have we finally realized we should never participate in another nation-building endeavor ever again?

At this point, the withdrawal is going horribly. The Taliban swept through the nation at lightning speed, taking city after city with very little in the way of resistance. The government the United States propped up has crumbled, and its leaders have fled. The Afghani army has chosen to throw down its arms in surrender despite having been trained by the U.S. for 20 years. Indeed, if one is an Afghani soldier, it seems more profitable to give in than to fight.

RedState’s Hollie McKay reported:

From my understanding, the level of corruption within the Afghanistan military and the government, that is part of how the Taliban won a lot of this, is they paid the commanders off to surrender a city before. So those who genuinely do want to fight – and there are a lot of men that wanted to genuinely fight – they were basically kept in the dark and ANA commanders were paid off by the Taliban in advance to surrender the city

To make matters worse, the Biden administration’s failure to plan appropriately made it necessary to send thousands of troops back to the region to facilitate the safe evacuation of personnel working in the U.S. embassy in Kabul. President Biden even admitted, “this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated.”

Fox News highlighted the urgency of the situation in a report noting that “the embassy in the Afghan capital closed down on Sunday following reports that officials there were destroying sensitive documents and equipment ahead of the Taliban’s arrival.”

Even more, our Afghani allies are in a very precarious situation, and if our military is not able to get them out of the country, they will almost certainly be killed. James Miervaldis is the head of No One Left Behind, a nonprofit whose purpose is to help Afghani families escape from the country. He told the Wall Street Journal that his organization “had 50 families with some 250 people scheduled to leave Kabul on commercial flights.”

Unfortunately, these individuals are stuck because these flights have been curtailed. He also explained that military units reached out to his group to find out what is happening at the Kabul airport as they had not been given any intelligence. Miervaldis said the “lack of preparation” was “mind-blowing.”

The WSJ continued:

He added that only about 350 Afghan families, or about 1,200 people, with U.S. visas had been able to leave before the Taliban victory. That leaves hundreds of translators and their families who had already obtained visas stranded in Kabul. There are perhaps 50,000 or more who would qualify for visas but didn’t yet have them because of the slow U.S. bureaucracy.

Still, regardless of the White House’s ineptitude, this situation will play out in one way or another. With the coda of the Afghanistan war quickly approaching, one must look to the future and speculate as to where the United States goes from here.

Here are the questions we should be asking ourselves as a nation: Has America finally learned its lesson? Do we now realize that nation-building is a fool’s errand? Are we ready to go forward with the understanding that we will never become entangled in more unnecessary and unending military conflicts?

Like most, I hope desperately that the answer is “yes.” I hope that we will never again possess the hutzpah to believe we can remake a nation accustomed to tyranny in our own image. I wish I could say with confidence that we will never again send members of our armed services to put their lives on the line for an unworthy cause.

Unfortunately, I can’t quite work up the level of optimism needed to believe the U.S. will not make these mistakes again. Sure, this will undoubtedly be true over the short term. Americans on both the left and the right will sally forth with a general consensus that we should focus on domestic issues instead of keeping our red, white, and blue noses in the affairs of other countries.

Republicans and Democrats both agree that leaving Afghanistan is the right move and will resist any effort to convince the public that another military altercation is necessary. Indeed, those insisting that Biden reconsider his decision to remove troops have been met with scorn and derision. This is especially true of the right, which has roundly rejected a neocon establishment that salivated over opportunities for war over the past couple of decades.

But eventually, this fervor could easily wear off. America could once again become complacent. At some point, another situation will arise that will motivate us to become embroiled in yet another war. Those who bring up the spectres of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam will be met with assurances that “This time will be different.”

Once again, we will probably find U.S. troops being deployed for an absurd length of time long after a legitimate threat was crushed and we will leave another area of the world devastated. I hope I’m wrong. But as of this moment, there does not seem to be much of a reason for optimism.

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