For weeks, I dreamt of eating Polvo Grelhado. The day before my July flight to Portugal, I did a mental checklist. Vaccine card, passport, sunscreen. It was the NYC Pride Parade, so I even pre-scheduled an Uber. I WAS READY.
At 10 pm, I was checked in, and approached the gate ready to board.
“Sorry, your booster is expired.” I stared, mouth agape, at the employee behind the counter.
“What do you mean it’s expired? I had a booster in December!”
Out of every country in Europe, only Portugal requires a booster to have been given in the last 6 months, not within 1 year. I was not ready.
I knelt on the ground to collect myself. In a matter of seconds, the boarding process was complete and I wasn’t on the plane. It was over, time to go home. I took a midnight cab going back to NYC. I booked an expensive new ticket for the next night and a Covid test for the next afternoon.
If you ever find yourself staring through the window of the Lisbon airport jail, lonely, hungry, deprived of your sanity, ask for the microwaved spaghetti.
I cheered when I got on the plane 24 hours later. I arrived in Lisbon at 10am the next morning, or so I thought, time wasn’t really a logical concept I could grasp at that point. I was standing in the middle of the customs line when suddenly I remembered that I had left my carry-on luggage on the plane.
OH NO, MY PASSPORT!!
“How does someone leave their passport on a plane?” My parents later asked me while on the phone as I was waited in the Immigrations and Security Office at the airport. It was a kind way to ask how their 31-year-old son could be such an idiot. “Xanax,” I responded.
I had taken a tiny bit before the flight as I didn’t want to waste anytime with jetlag. I was already behind schedule! I quickly surveyed the floor and found two TAP Portugal employees flirting with one another. I interrupted them to inform them of my dilemma.
“Ok. No problem, let me call someone for you,” one said.
An hour went by.
Slowly, the Xanax started wearing off and my anxiety started creeping in. I found another employee and asked what I should do. She directed me to the customs agent. The customs agent directed me to the Information agent, a man wearing a blue T shirt with a Question mark on it. Helpful. The Information agent did not have the right information and directed me back to a different TAP Portugal employee.
After a half hour or so of Airport speed dating, I successfully sweet-talked the customs agent into giving me the phone number to baggage claim. My luggage was in the overhead compartment at the front of the plane. They had to have seen it! I called them, they yelled at me for calling them and said they’d get back to me.
Another hour passed.
I was stuck in limbo. It felt like a Kafka story. I couldn’t walk back out of the airport and I couldn’t move forward through customs without my passport. I realized that I was the actual character of Tom Hanks in “The Terminal”. After witnessing me pacing back and forth for seemingly hours, a kindhearted police officer asked me if was ok.
“Am I OK? Are you serious? I’m losing my mind over here!” is what I wanted to say, but I didn’t want to end up in a mental asylum. Although that would technically get me into the country and Portugal has a pretty good healthcare system. I responded that I was fine.
She saw right through my façade, took me to the nearby immigration/police office and asked if I was hungry. I sheepishly responded no, then yes, then no. Food was the last thing on my mind at that point. Well, her motherly instincts must’ve taken over because she came back with a tin can of microwaved spaghetti and a stale bread roll. It was delicious. After my lovely meal, I called my parents. I received an email from father a little while later. The email had the contact information for the Ambassador to Portugal. Somehow my dad knew the husband to the ambassador of Portugal! I hate to stereotype, but I guess us Jews really do all know each other.
It was 4:30pm when I emailed her. This was it, I thought, my luck had changed. I was talking to the freaking Ambassador to Portugal! No big deal or anything. I quickly received an email back stating that the embassy closes at 5pm and they could only help me once I was IN the country. The airport did not count as in the country. After that cruel tease of false hope, I asked one of the cops what would happen if they couldn’t find my passport.
“We will have to send you home on the next flight”
It was then that I really started to panic. I closed my eyes and prayed to a God I had long forgotten. I promised that if I made it into the country, I would go to Temple at LEAST one time.
I sat back down, begrudgingly resigned to my fate. Soon I’d be back on a plane to America with my tail between my legs. “Screw the embassy. This counts as me being in Lisbon” I thought to myself. Pathetic. I looked out into the customs area I had walked into hours ago. I put my hand up on the glass in despair and mouthed “help me” to a happy family walking by. The mom looked at me with grave concern. I quickly conveyed that I was joking. I mean I wasn’t but what could she do about it?
Hours passed slowly. Nine of them to be exact. The border agents/police had long forgotten me. I decided to stretch me legs and walked back out into the terminal without any protest. I noticed a TAP Portugal employee with a clipboard at the start of the customs area. All day I had been playing whack-a-mole with airport employees, desperately trying to find anyone that could actually help me and finally, I had found someone. I told her my story.
“Un momento.” She took out a phone and called her supervisor. “Is your bag black and green with a pocket?”
I practically screamed, “YES!!!”
As she spoke, one of the border agents briskly walked up to me, arms up in the air, baffled at what I was doing. I was Sirius Black and the dementor had come to take me back to Azkaban. *(The officers were actually all very nice people)
“What are you doing? Why did you leave?” the officer asked me.
“She found my luggage” I replied.
The border agent was more surprised than I was. She escorted me back into the Immigrations office and 30 minutes later I was finally allowed down into Baggage Claim. I had never been more nervous. We cut the line and a lady rolled out my carry-on luggage. I unzipped the pocket, throwing out anything that wasn’t my passport.
There it was! ♫♪ I got the golden ticket! ♫♪ I held up my passport like Simba and kissed it. I walked out of the airport several hours later, battered, bruised, but not defeated. My friend, who I had also been panickily texting all day, met me at the gate. We hopped in a cab and headed for dinner. It took over 48 hours of travel nightmares, but I finally got my Polvo Grenhaldo. Worth it.
*Special thanks to my brother Dylan and my friend Teddy for helping me out during this endeavor
Early Thursday morning, Feb 2022, Ukrainian citizens awakened to the sounds of bombs while thousands of Russian troops and tanks moved into the country on three fronts.
Soon after, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia was launching a “special military operation” in Ukraine. This special operation includes sending in over 100,000 troops in a full scale invasion of the country that has resulted in dozens of Ukrainians having already been killed.
So how and why is this happening? This situation is incredibly complex but there are three main reasons.
1) Putin wants to restore the Russian Empire to its former glory and prestige
2) Russia wants to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and protect its border with Western Europe
3) Russian is protecting its economic and national interests/sovereignty
1. Restore Former Glory
To understand why Russia would invade its neighbor, you first have to understand the history behind the collapse of the Soviet Union. When the USSR ended in 1991, one of the world’s powerful nations split into 15 countries, Ukraine being one of them. Relations between Russia and its former satellite states have been tenuously fragile ever since. During the waning years of the Soviet Union, Western nations verbally promised former Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev that they would respect Russia’s sphere of influence and not expand NATO onto its borders. This promise was short-lived as many former Soviet countries, such as Lithuania, Latvia, Hungary and the Czech Republic joined NATO after 1997. Although there was never a written agreement, Putin is under the impression that NATO willingly deceived Gorbachev and has fostered mistrust for the West ever since.
In his most recent speech announcing the invasion, Putin listed all of the grievances Russia has suffered since the end of the USSR. He claimed that Russia has been habitually humiliated and wouldn’t take it any longer.
Putin was born during the height of the Cold War, started his career as a KGB agent, led its successor the FSB and became the country’s leader. He is a man of extreme nationalistic and patriotic pride who believes the collapse of the Soviet Union was the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe”. He believes that these former Soviet state’s independent sovereignty is a mistake and their newfound alliance with the West/NATO as an embarrassing humiliation. In previous speeches, such as in July 2021, he argued that Ukrainians and Russians are one people and hinted at his ultimate goal being the reunification of Ancient Rus. Now, it seems that Putin is trying to make this idealized goal into reality and Ukraine is paying the price.
2. NATO/Border Protection
Diplomatic relations between the two nations was actually cordial for many years until 2014, when Ukraine authoritarian leader Viktor Yanukovych was ousted after he rejected a Ukrainian-EU trade treaty in favor of improving relations with Russia. Yanukovych had previously expressed tepid interest in joining NATO only to back away from the idea in 2010. Once he was removed from office, Ukraine’s interest in joining NATO was reignited. While that wasn’t going to happen for least several years, the idea that Ukraine, which borders Russia, would join a Western alliance was a frightening prospect for Russia. Ukraine would be one of many former Soviet states that moved away from Russia and positioned itself with Western Europe instead.
The United States has the Monroe Doctrine and Russia has the Putrin Doctrine. If Eastern Europe falls under Russian domain, then Western interference in Ukraine is an attack on Russian sovereignty.
In 2008, this belief was put into action when Russia invaded Georgia. Russian separatists had been fighting Georgian troops in the disputed region of of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Putin, under the guise of a peacekeeping mission to protect Russian citizens, invaded Georgia. While the war was over within weeks, Russia successfully annexed the disputed regions, expelled ethnic Georgians and established permanent military bases. Putin has made it very clear that he is willing to use Russia’s military to protect Russian’s geopolitical influence in its neighboring states.
In 2014, Russia used the same playbook when they invaded Crimea, a disputed region in Ukraine where Russian separatists had been fighting Ukrainian troops in a shadow war for years. Once again, Russia invaded Crimea only to then quickly pull back their military a few weeks later, but not until illegally annexing the region.
In December 2021, after the invasions of Georgia and Crimea, Russia demanded that the U.S. prevent further eastward expansion of NATO, prevent any military bases from being established in former Soviet territories and disallow former Soviet states to join the alliance. This was an impossible demand. The US and it’s fellow NATO nations were never going to agree to permanently prevent Ukraine or any other future nation from joining their alliance. Even if such an agreement were to be accepted, how could either nation trust one another to uphold the agreement? For all of the mistrust that Russia has towards the West, it’s not like Putin is entirely trustworthy either. Putin has lied, misled and repeatedly went back on his word when it comes to diplomacy with the West. He has ordered cyberattacks on other nation’s infrastructure and their elections. In 2004, Ukraine agreed to dismantle 5000 nuclear warheads in exchange for security guarantees from the US and Russia. Clearly, Putin has shown little regard for previously agreed upon treaties.
Now, in February 2022, Russia once again declared two more disputed regions (Donetsk and Luhansk) as Russian territory where, wouldn’t you know it, Russian separatists had been fighting Ukrainian troops. This new invasion of Ukraine is itself a violation of the Minsk Agreement, signed after Crimea in 2015. That agreement promised to end the 10 months of fighting in the Donbas region of Ukraine, the region Putin claimed was now Russian. Putin has also said the Minsk Agreement is null and void.
3. Economic Interests
In addition to Putin’s personal motivations to restore Russia’s former glory and prevent NATO from establishing itself on its borders, there are also economical reasons why Russia would invade Ukraine.
While not a petrol state in the sense of Saudi Arabia or other Middle Eastern nations, Russian gas exports account for 60% of Russia’s GDP. Russia’s economy would greatly suffer if they could not export their natural gas. However, the countries Russia exports oil to to includes Ukraine and much of Europe, which means the stoppage of oil would also cause economic problems for those countries as well. Russia is the second biggest exporter of crude oil and the world’s largest natural gas exporter. The EU is dependent on Russia for about 35% of its natural gas supply. Much of Europe would be economically damaged if Russian oil stopped flowing and vice versa.
As of now, Russia exports their gas to the EU through two major pipeline. One major pipeline (Northern Druzhba) is through Belarus, a Russian ally who has facilitated and aided the Russian invasion of Ukraine from its own borders and the second (Southern Druzhba) goes through Ukraine. Russia sends 40% of its gas through the Ukrainian pipeline. Without this pipeline, it would be incredibly difficult to export their oil into the rest of Europe. That is why there have been several legal and economical disputes between Gazprom (Russia’s Oil producer) and Ukraine. In 2019, Gazprom paid a $1.9 billion settlement to Ukraine to transport gas for 5 more years. Germany is particularly vulnerable as it has shut down nearly all of its nuclear power stations and aims to eliminate coal by 2030. It’s why Germany and Russia agreed to a newly proposed pipeline called the Nordic 2 which would bypass Ukraine. Russia would no longer have to pay Ukraine’s high transit fees to distribute their oil and weaken Ukraine’s diplomatic leverage with Russia. The world has become a tangled global web of economical interdependency. The EU would face gas shortages and economical panic if Russian gas exports were to stop or sharply decline.
So how and what should Biden and NATO do in response?
For the last several weeks, the Biden administration has openly broadcasted Russia’s intentions to invade. He has combated Russia’s misinformation campaign by directly confronting Putin’s lies and laying the blame of this incursion solely on his feet.
In terms of retaliation, the US and EU have a few avenues they could explore to punish Russia. One option that is off the table though, is direct military intervention. Biden already said he won’t be sending US troops into Ukraine. There is also a complete lack of will by NATO and the US to be dragged into another war. War fatigue, pandemic fatigue and a global economical recession has rendered a US military intervention a non starter. Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Zelenskyy himself has said that he does not want US troops on Ukrainian soil. Instead, the US and NATO have agreed to provide military equipment and intelligence in order to support Ukraine on the ground. This equipment has been slow getting into the country and may arrive too late to help Ukrainian troops. *It should be noted that the withholding of $400 million in military aid to Ukraine was the reason behind Trump’s Impeachment. Trump threatened to withhold the aid unless PM Zelenskyy “did him a favor” by finding dirt on Biden before the 2020 election.
The US and the EU have also agreed to a new round of economic sanctions against Russia. The particular aspects of these sanctions is still unclear. Russia is a Kleptocracy. While there is economic freedom in Russia, most of the money is concentrated in the hands of powerful businessmen who rapidly accumulated wealth during the era of Russian privatization in the aftermath of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and who Putin is reliant on to stay in power. They have formed a partnership in which Putin allows them to accumulate wealth (and give him a large cut) as long as they stay out of politics. That relationship is a delicate situation, one that Putin has formidably controlled for decades. Here’s the deal though, as Biden likes to say, sanctions only work when everyone follows them. The US can freeze Russian bank accounts, levy fines on Russian imports and ban Russian individuals from conducting business in certain areas, but that only works if everyone adheres to the law. Past sanctions levied against Russia have been effective but many other sanctions have been relatively toothless. It depends on how far the EU/US is willing to go.
This time around though, with a full on invasion taking place, there does seem to be the political will to actually impose severe sanctions, the likes of which we haven’t seen in quite a while. There are currently discussions being held that could ban Russia from using SWIFT. Swift global messaging system for financial transactions that connects more than 11,000 banks and other organizations in more than 200 countries and territories. It’s a critical part of the infrastructure needed to conduct business between international banks. This would be a major, historical step against Russia. It would also result in economic damage for the US and Europe.
Sanctions could be levied at specific Russian citizens. Biden’s team have talked openly about confiscating Russian oligarch’s US properties and any other assets they own outside of Russia. They could, theoretically, make it nearly impossible for any Russian to conduct business with the EU or US by freezing their bank accounts and blacklisting them. By putting pressure on the Russian elite, they would start to put pressure on Putin to end the war, or so the theory goes. Putin however, has shown an incredibly resiliency and in the past, has refused to capitulate to the complaints of the Russian elites.
America and Europe could also ban imports of Russian oil, but again, that would have repercussions for not just Russia. Germany however, in a major win for NATO, has put the Nordic 2 pipeline on hold. The EU will most likely adhere to a ban on other Russian exports such as wheat, but China has already said they would allow wheat imports from Russia which will ease the blow.
So how will this end?
Honestly, I don’t know and anyone telling you otherwise is just guessing. Putin is a mostly rational person but he is only rational based on his internal beliefs. These beliefs happen to be that Ukraine is actually Russian territory.
Putin decided this course of action as soon as his ally in Ukraine was deposed, possibly earlier. Crimea was clearly just a test run. He also backed himself into a corner. By amassing troops and preparing for war for months, only for Russia to withdrawal now, it would be a humiliating defeat, as he would’ve conceded to NATO without taking any tangible action. Russia has already secured a win by severely weakening Ukraine. Ukrainians are leaving in droves and a prolonged war will cause citizens to pour into Poland and other NATO states, possibly causing another refugee crisis. It has also, in theory, helped Putin’s position in securing a written agreement that Ukraine won’t join NATO. If that is truly his goal, which seems doubtful, he will most likely claim that a signed agreement would result in the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops and he will have gotten what he originally wanted in the first place.
On the flip side, this invasion is incredibly unpopular within Russia. Already we are seeing mass protests in Russia, something that doesn’t often happen. If Russia is planning on occupying Ukraine, they will face a unyielding insurgency by Ukrainian nationalists. They will also, as previously stated, face devastating and crippling sanctions, nothing like they’ve seen before.
Previous sanctions and overall antagonism between Russia and Europe have pushed Putin to look east. Russia and China have formed a quasi-partnership between their respective authoritarian states, but China is a geopolitical rival. Putin has in turn, isolated Russia from the rest of the world and made it dependent on China. By focusing on a delusional notion of rebuilding the Russia empire, Putin has enfeebled Russia’s international standing and turned any remaining international public support against him.
There is still a chance that this is all just a repeat of the last two invasions, which included a rapid military incursion, a quick annexation of disputed territory, negotiations and then a partial withdrawal. Putin would spin this as a victory by claiming that he has freed Russians from the tyranny of Ukraine and demonstrated that Russia will not back down from NATO. If the goal is to make Russia seem like a premier superpower once again, this symbolic victory could placate Putin, for now.
At this present time though, it certainly seems this is more than just a quick attack. It appears Russia is trying to occupy and annex all of Ukraine.
Putin is an aging tyrant with fantasizes about being Alexander the Great. For Putin, the past is the present and the future. Yet, for someone so focused on the past, he seems to have forgotten how the US invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan ended. He also seems to have forgot about the USSR’s own failed invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s which helped facilitate the downfall of the communist regime. We could be witnessing yet again, the last dying grasp of declining nation. A new paradigm shift in this quasi post-cold war European détente. In the meantime, thousands will die, refugees will pour out of Ukraine and the global economy will suffer even more. My thoughts are with the people of Ukraine.
If you’re so inclined. Here is the Kenyan ambassador to the UN eloquently explaining how people suffer under manufactured borders.
As Kabul falls and the Taliban retakes the country they once ruled over with an iron fist, there is palpable frustration over how it all unfolded. Over $200 billion spent, nearly 3,000 American lives and countless Afghan lives lost and all of the civil rights progress, was wiped out in mere hours.
Much of the current dialogue in the media has centered around which President deserves the blame instead of focusing on the real issues that prevented America from being able to build a stable and long-lasting democracy in Afghanistan. While there is much blame to go around, there are 4 major reasons why America’s intervention in Afghanistan failed.
1) America’s lack of a cohesive vision for the war
2) Misunderstanding of the tribal dynamics in Afghanistan
3) Corruption/Payroll problems
4) The U.S. Military industrial complex
After 9/11, America wanted revenge. Osama Bin Laden and his fighters were hiding in Afghanistan, so President George W. Bush’s administration decided to invade, while still concurrently fighting in Iraq. After that fateful day, the American government itself was entirely remade and repurposed for counter terrorism (i.e The NSA, TSA etc). In regard to defeating terorrism, America was actually quite successful. We destroyed Al-Qaeda and there hasn’t been a major attack on the West since 2005. In 2003, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declared the new goal of the war to “rebuilding” Afghanistan. In that regard, 18 years later, it’s safe to say that we failed.
America was never going to succeed in rebuilding Afghanistan, never. It takes an imperialistic arrogance, a nation fueled by jingoistic, nationalistic pride, to think the USA could invade a territory with a two-thousand years history of internal turmoil and warring tribes and create a westernized, puppet government of our own design. How else can we describe our beliefs after watching the Russians invade Afghanistan just 20 years prior? A war that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
We rebuilt Afghanistan, sure, but America never intended to establish a government by and for the Afghan people. No, we built a government designed to combat terrorism and ally itself with the West. A government that crumbled within hours of America’s withdrawal.
America has always failed to understand the dynamics of tribal politics. That’s what Afghanistan is, a nation of tribes (Pashtun, Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazara). The Taliban itself are mostly Pashtun tribesmen. To establish a stable peace, America brokered with warlords, tribal leaders, militia groups and various former terrorist groups to form a coalition, but nothing bound these people other than the American military paying/supporting them. We built a government with a leader, but not a government with a state. There was no underlying social infrastructure or cohesive ideology holding the government together, only America’s military might.
What’s worse is that America had ample knowledge and prior experience with the tribal politics of Afghanistan. When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in the 1980s, America armed the Mujahideen rebels who fought alongside the Taliban to repel the invasion. After the Soviets pulled out in 1989, Afghanistan went through a civil war, ending with the Taliban taking over in 1996. Bin Laden himself and his fighters received American funding and they were even trained by the CIA itself.
The U.S has known for years that the Afghan government/military was rife with corruption and incapable of carrying out its duties. According to the International Corruption Perception Index, Afghanistan ranks 177 out of 180 countries. During the waning years of the war, due to corruption and mismanagement, Afghan soldiers weren’t even getting paid and lacked basic necessities. Soldiers would take bribes, illegally steal land, and confiscate civilian goods. Many Afghan soldiers didn’t actually even exist. Afghanistan was a nation of “ghost soldiers”, soldiers who didn’t exist but were used to inflate the numbers in the salary bill and siphon off millions of dollars annually. Former President Hamid Karzai (2001-2014) allegedly stuffed the ballot boxes for his re-election campaign and openly admitted that the CIA had delivered bags of cash to his office for years.
The most recent President of Afghanistan disappeared and left the country with over $190 million dollars. He has most recently shown up in the UAE. The government we built in Afghanistan had a judicial system that rewarded bribery, leaders that stole from their own people and a military with inflated numbers that was seemingly incapable of defending itself. How and why would the Afghan people support a government that they couldn’t trust?
Most of the criticism over the collapse of Afghanistan is being directed at President Biden. However, this withdrawal plan was signed by Trump and the Taliban in 2020. President Trump himself, while in office, was adamant in withdrawing all troops as quickly as possible.
It seems people aren’t so angry about the withdrawal itself, but the execution of it.
Here’s a question though.
What else could America have done? What could we do when Afghanistan’s own President quickly left the country with millions of our money and not a single Afghan soldier fired a bullet against the Taliban? In fact, the complete surrender to the Taliban only reinforces the fact that we shouldn’t be there anymore. A government that collapses within hours isn’t and wasn’t ever actually viable.
President George. W. Bush started this war, but in 2001 and for many years after, Congress and the American public supported it. President Obama inherited the war in Afghanistan, but he too was committed to it, electing to keep troops there while drastically increasing the use of drone strikes. In 2009, Obama even launched his own “Tet offensive” and sent in a surge of 17,000 troops. President Trump also sent in a surge of troops in 2017, before reversing course two years later.
So why did 3 consecutive U.S Presidents continue fighting an increasingly costly and increasingly unpopular war even as our allies abandoned us?
As former U.S WWII General and President Eisenhower said in his farewell address in 1961, “We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” This military industrial complex has had a stranglehold over foreign policy for decades.
The U.S military has known that Afghanistan was an unwinnable war for the last decade. The Washington Post proved this with the release of the “Afghanistan Papers”. In it, it shows how U.S. officials have known for the last several years that U.S.-backed personnel in Afghanistan were not a viable fighting force. Even as our NATO allies abandoned us and America was left to fight entirely on its own, the Pentagon insisted that things would turn around. In 2014, US and NATO officials declared the war to have officially ended and held a ceremony to make the occasion. In reality, during that same time, Russia had shut off their supply route into Afghanistan in retaliation for U.S Sanctions and left the U.S solely reliant on Pakistan for moving supplies, crippling America’s ability to move goods into the landlocked Afghanistan. Still, even after the war was declared over, American troops stayed and military leaders insisted that things would turn around. For nearly a decade, government officials lied about the reality of the war and the chances of successfully leaving behind a stable Afghanistan.
The war in Afghanistan was an unwinnable war that plunged the U.S into insurmountable debt, destroyed any privacy Americans once had and ignited a global conflict in the Middle East. For a long time. America had a debate whether the country should have interventionalist or isolationist foreign policy. After the Allies victory in WWII, the debate ended and America spent the next seven decades using its newfound confidence and military might to fight wars all across the globe.
America should intervene in global affairs. It is how we intervene that is the problem. America is a nation of great promise and can do great things for people abroad. Sending in our military to topple a government and creating a generation of Afghans who have known nothing but war, is not the solution. Even after the failures of Vietnam, we continue to make the same mistakes.
All across our screens, we are seeing images of the Taliban taking control of Afghanistan. In the past week, the three major news networks have devoted dozens of hours to Afghanistan, but in the past 5 years, Afghanistan coverage averaged only 24 minutes a year. Biden has gotten more negative press about America’s evacuation than Trump and Obama got combined for their failed policies and for all the troops that died under their watch. All of the media’s coverage has centered on America’s “botched” withdrawal plan. What is never talked about, after America’s troops leave another nation, is the lasting damage we leave behind. What about the Afghan people? We’ve seen videos of desperate people trying to escape their home country, of women bravely protesting the Taliban and countless other inspiring stories. Do you think we will still hear about any of this in a week or two? No, we won’t. We will quickly move onto the next story. The Afghan people won’t be able to do that. Many of them will be killed, put in jail, and have all of their civil rights taken away. The attention we will spend on Afghanistan will last a week but the damage we’ve left behind will last for generations.