America’s mission in Afghanistan has been reduced to cinders, and the human cost will be incalculable. The impact of this betrayal of our military will be felt for generations.
This demoralization couldn’t come at a worse time. With an ascendant Communist China, a strong U.S. military is needed now more than any other time since the end of the Cold War.
How our troops were treated after Vietnam remains a stain on the soul of this nation. It spoke volumes about the sad state of America during the cultural revolutions of the late 1960s and 70s. Today, the betrayal of our War on Terrorism veterans, first in Iraq by Obama and now in Afghanistan by Mr. Biden, speaks to the hollowness of political leaders more interested in winning the news cycle than anything else.
Our military community has listened for months as top brass played along with Mr. Biden’s COVID-19 politics and promoted Critical Race Theory among the ranks of the services. With morale already low, the President then ditched the Afghan mission with a callousness that should call into question his fitness as Commander-in-Chief.
Before this calamity, our military watched for years as politicians from both parties discarded the continuing Afghan mission as a worthless endeavor that should be abandoned.
Washington politicians have behaved publicly as though we still had 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, that we were sustaining unjustifiable losses and that our presence there served no strategic purpose. Those carefully cultivated perceptions were the worst kind of lie. They fueled the tragedy that we see unfolding today.
Few stood up against this deliberate misrepresentation. Republicans and Democrats alike latched onto the cheap talking point of ending “forever wars” and the ridiculous notion that you can negotiate with terrorists who rape and dismember people for sport.
The “art of the deal” approach was never going to work in Afghanistan. Just walking away, as Biden wished to do, was never a viable option either.
We cannot now nor ever allow history to record that the work of our men and women in uniform was for naught. Hundreds of thousands of them performed with unswerving ability. Nearly 2500 made the ultimate sacrifice, and more than 20,000 will live with the scars of war for the rest of their lives.
Over the years, there has been a frequent refrain among Beltway denizens that “nation-building” isn’t the job of our military. There is some truth to that. However, securing a nation of 30 million people, killing terrorists, and providing some measure of stability required broadening the goals of our mission. It was necessary in Iraq and Afghanistan as it was in the days after World War II in Germany and Japan.
During our time in Afghanistan, America brought 15 million women and girls freedoms they had never known. We modernized health care, improved education, and created a justice system that placed basic human rights at its core.
Our men and women in uniform are the sharpest fighting force in the world, but they also bring with them the compassion of America that finds full effect in bringing these aspects of a free society with them to the oppressed.
Our troops ejected the Taliban from power, killed more than 50,000 terrorist fighters, and destroyed Al-Qaida’s base of operations. In many respects, the mission was an overwhelming success. Most recently, it was one largely of preserving those gains.
Our service members aren’t looking for medals and parades. Unlike many of our vapid leaders, they are much too humble and mission-focused to be fixated on displays of affection. They want their work to be honestly assessed, valued, and not discarded for political purposes.
We must always honor the work done by ordinary Americans asked to do the extraordinary for the cause of our security despite the failures of our political class. Our unwavering commitment to do that may help blunt yet another betrayal of our military by Washington politicians.
• Tom Basile, host of Newsmax Television’s “America Right Now,” is an author and adjunct professor at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, where he teaches earned media strategy.