It’s been said in many ways but the simple truth of the matter is this: those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Earlier this week, I watched on television the disturbing video of Afghan citizens trying desperately to board a U.S. Air Force plane. Some clung to the sides of the huge transport plane, risking injury or death.
It was a sad scene, one that evoked memories of a time in 1975 when the United States withdrew its final troops from Vietnam.
Now, just like four decades ago, Chinook helicopters flew to embassies to evacuate U.S. citizens and loyal supporters of the U.S. mission.
Much to my disgust, our leaders repeated the mistakes they made in Vietnam and as a result we do, indeed, see history repeating itself.
I’m glad the United States is pulling its troops from Afghanistan. We should have done it 20 years ago, shortly after neutralizing terrorist forces, including the Taliban.
Instead, our leaders pursued the tried-and- failed course of nation building.
It didn’t work in Vietnam and it never had a chance in Afghanistan.
That middle eastern country has been at war for thousands of years and has resisted all attempts of subjugation.
Even the evil Soviet empire failed to occupy Afghanistan. The loss of national treasure and men eventually helped lead to the fall of the Soviet Union.
Our wise leaders thought they could do better and have spent more than $2.2 trillion trying to build a democratic republic in Afghanistan.
Much of the money spent on the Afghanistan war was borrowed. Our children and grandchildren will be paying for the war effort for many years to come. The Associated Press estimates interest costs by 2050 will be $6.5 trillion.
The effort cost the lives of more than 2,440 American soldiers. Nearly 4,000 U.S. contractors died and the number of Afghan civilians who were killed is 47,245. (That’s before the Taliban exacts revenge on the Afghan population).
There’s plenty of blame to be spread around for the current debacle.
Former President Donald Trump acted responsibly when he decided to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan. Unfortunately, his negotiators talked directly with the Taliban and set an unrealistic timetable for an orderly withdrawal.
To his credit, President Joe Biden agreed to pull American troops from Afghanistan. However, he and his team bungled the exit.
Few people could have imagined the speed of the fall of the Afghan government propped up by U.S. money.
President Biden pointed out in a press conference this week that the U.S. had equipped and trained an Afghan force of more than 300,000. The Afghan army should have been able to put up a good fight.
When it’s all said and done, Afghanistan should serve as yet another reminder that the United States should get out of the nation building business.
Sadly, those in power simply cannot learn the painful lessons of the past.