The obligation we now have
There is a certain amount of respect that is due to a relatively small group of zealots that can rise from the ashes created by two decades of ass-kicking from not only the world’s largest super- power but its allies as well. There is an old saying that after an all-out nuclear annihilation of the world there will still be cockroaches- I believe we have identified those cockroaches, and they are not in vincible, they are a hubristic lot waltzing into the presidential palace and taking the throne as easily as if they were boarding a bus. And here we sit, 20 years, 2.4 Trillion dollars and 2,372 lives later with nothing to show for our efforts or the sacrifice. To add insult to injury, the mishandling of what should have been a joyous exit turned the event into an embarrassing catastrophe that has ended up in damage to century-old relationships around the globe. It is now too late in the game to play armchair quarterback discussing how logistics could have been better and how warnings were ignored. We must now so face some hard truths now as a country, as Americans and as part of the human race. One truth is that we committed to a neighbor. For one of the same reasons we were involved in a bitter two-decade battle we also now have to continue to serve that neighbor. We could argue that it was not our fight to begin with, we can dispute over whether or not the United States should have ever intervened, but the debates will rage longer than the problem. We must now find a solution for the predicament we find ourselves in and that predicament is that we committed to a neighbor and in the end, we let them down. Until we fully remove from our foundational stones the inference that “In God We Trust” and that this country was birthed by His hand, then we have an obligation to understand and act out the concept of salvation. Even as I write this, thousands of refugees are pouring onto our shores looking to us for that strength and support that we initially offered. This is not the same as an open border; this is not a free-for-all invitation for the world to overtake us. This is a situation caused by danger, desperation and ultimately our failure to see something through with integrity. I recently had the opportunity to sit with Ron Paul (not someone I ever thought I would share a table with) and the discussion followed this same line of thinking. It was an interesting and ironic meeting to say the least as I represented an almost redneck-republican viewpoint and was meeting with perhaps the most famous Libertarian in the world. At 86 years of age, Paul’s passion was as evident as it ever was the entire meeting. During our conversation, we discussed his speeches from 2011 and 2012 regarding Afghanistan. It may be more accurate to call them predictions or forecast rather than speeches. In 2011 Paul said, "The question we're facing today is should we leave Afghanistan? I think the answer is very clear and it's not complicated, that of course we should. As soon as we can. This suggests that we can leave by the end of the year. If we don't, we'll be there for another decade would be my prediction." By my calculation, 2021 is a decade later. In 2012 Paul continued his prediction by saying, "The large majority of the American people now say it's time to get out of Afghanistan. It's a fruitless venture, too much has been lost, the chance of winning, since we don't even know what we're going to win, doesn't exist." In our visit we discussed his predictions of what he termed the "perpetual occupation of a country." "We can't change Afghanistan," he said. "Even if you could, you're not supposed to. You don't have the moral authority, you don't have the constitutional authority." While I wholeheartedly disagreed with his statement about never getting involved, I could not discount the accuracy of his statements regarding the country never changing. Within one year of our involvement in Afghanistan, the lowest soldier on the totem pole could clearly see that our presence was the only thing that had changed in the country. This meant and still means that without our presence, it will always be the country that it was. We can delve into the “what-ifs” and the opinions of experts as to whether or not Pakistan supporting the Taliban is relevant and if we could have avoided some of this if Trump had ended the war during the worst pandemic in a century, but for what? We just wiped out one our nation’s greatest achievements in less than a two week time period! This was not Biden nor was it Trump. This was not just a logistic mistake. This was an abject failure of colossal proportions and we need to focus on the tasks at hand because there is no going back. While you can superglue the handle back on a coffee cup, you cannot duct tape a Ming vase back together after it has been dropped from the Eiffel Tower. When we occupied Afghanistan we protected lives on a daily basis. Now that Afghanistan is beginning to occupy America, we must continue to support those lives. While the events of the last few weeks were spectacular in nature to the negative, the greatest stain on the fabric of America’s history will be if we neglect to protect these people now that they are here. Barefoot, afraid and confused, we now have immigrants arriving at the foot of the Statue of Liberty that need our assistance and now that the world is watching, we had better not fail.