Letters to the Editor
August 18, 2021

To the Editor:
Second Opinion
I have responded to Dave Johnson’s I Didn’t Care manifesto but Martin, doing his job as editor, pointed out it grew to be quite a long column even if published in two parts. I thought the concerns Dave expressed were very representative of a part of our population. Perhaps another time.
“The Afghan War is Over.” We should be thrilled. Except for the terrible scenes of the withdrawal, the stunningly swift images of the Taliban taking over city after city, and surrounding even Kabul (nearly the size of Los Angeles). We, as Americans, did not expect or want to see such things, our troops who are fighting and have fought thought the outcome would be much different. Heaven knows, I am no military or strategic expert, but like anyone else I have my memory of events and observations of this tragic undertaking. .
We invaded Afghanistan precipitously. The Bush administration and the Neocons cited Afghanistan’s refusal to “turn over” Osama bin Laden (OBL) to the U.S. days after 9/11 as grounds for invasion, but the truth was that the then-leader required proof that bin Laden was involved. This “proof” (“white paper”) was promised repeatedly by the Bush administration but was never produced. The U.S. government’s case against OBL was insufficient for legal prosecution or diplomatic options but was good enough to take the country to war, a war that killed or maimed countless people who had absolutely nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. Not to mention our own troops. The US never did find OBL in Afghanistan, as he quickly escaped to Pakistan. But Iraq, practically next door, was our real target (though with even less reason for attack based on 9/11). The troops and equipment were there, and there was no Plan B for withdrawal. We would introduce western policing and culture to Afghanistan and give them a basis for a more democratic government and make our invasion far more palatable to America. Both political parties, with very, very few exceptions, went along with it.
I remember hearing a military analyst in 2002 who said that Afghanistan was not at all like Iraq (this was news to me). It was still comprised almost entirely of unconsolidated tribes of multiple religions who really had no allegiance to each other. He thought that looking to Afghanistan as a “country” was a western misconception. The idea of subduing other tribes was unknown to them but they were historically excellent at subduing intruders, the last being the Russians. Still, we persisted. But we were working against the culture.
Then-president Trump signed an agreement in September 2020 for our withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. His offer to meet with the Taliban at Camp David was quickly nixed by his administration. But the date was determined and notice given. President Biden had a choice when the dates were in sight: honor the agreement and withdraw, or refuse to go and continue our pointless war in Afghanistan. He chose the former.
Why the Biden administration did not do a better job of removing all the Afghan translators and support personnel, I wait to hear. It had better be a good reason. Based on what we know about the tribal structure of Afghanistan, it should have come as no surprise to us, and it is no wonder, that the Taliban cut through and regained the country as they did. They are not “intruders.” They have been there all along.
Kelly Scoles,