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Three quick points about Afghanistan
In today’s post, all I really want to do is make three short points about Afghanistan. (Clearly, you can find all the Afghanistan news that you want online right now, but I personally have found it has to be taken in small doses.)
For point one comes the foreign damage. The Washington Post detailed the righteous anger emanating from Europe in its WorldView newsletter today.
“Let me speak clearly and bluntly. This is a catastrophe,” said Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, in an address Thursday to the European Parliament. He echoed the widespread dismay felt by policymakers and politicians across the continent over the sudden Taliban takeover in Afghanistan — and the Biden administration’s military withdrawal that preceded it. Many of the United States’ NATO partners in Europe had invested considerable manpower and resources in the American-led war and nation-building project in Afghanistan, though on a smaller scale than Washington. For some, participating in the U.S.-led mission conferred a significant degree of post-Cold War prestige.
Now, European onlookers are shocked to see the fruits of their labor seemingly vanish in the space of a few harrowing days. Across the pond, a defiant White House has doubled down on its decision-making, showing little contrition for its role in the chaotic scenes unfolding in Kabul.
Moving on to the second point I wanted to make about what’s happening here at home, I was talking with a military friend, and he summed it up best. Asked how he was doing, he said, “Not that great,” but added that he knew he wasn’t alone. And after asking about my mental state, he added:
I watched the news for a couple of days then stopped. Just can't do it anymore. I know a couple of Air Force Chiefs who are leading crews of airmen who are flying 24-hour ops to get people out of there. Real heroes, all of them. I hope you're doing okay. The big tragedy is happening over there. But there are small tragedies happening in veteran's homes all over the country as we watch 20 years and so many deaths washed away in a matter of days.
I think he is absolutely right. I’d say we’ll see a spike in suicides among Afghan vets in the coming weeks and months. (Sadly, suicides among military personnel are 4x higher than deaths from operations, with more than 30,000 service members paying the ultimate price after returning home safely from our two major wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.)
Let’s pray these numbers don’t go up. And if you know an Afghan vet, reach out to them. The Marine Corps actually released a message about this from its top commanding officer and sergeant major:
(If that is too small to read, you can also read it online here.)
My final point I wanted to make is that while we’ve botched the exit to date, we need to continue to get out as many Afghans and Americans as possible. That is the best hope that Biden has to reduce the damage that has been done.
That’s it for this post. Please share this post if you enjoyed it.
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I also post veteran interviews on Sundays.
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Stan R. Mitchell
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