“American exceptionalism, the idea that we as a country are separate from the world at large, is what’s killing us right here. We don’t read the history and experiences left by others because we feel it doesn’t apply to us, and thus we are dooming ourselves to repeat it.”
Everyone knew that this September brought about the tenth anniversary of the infamous 9/11 attacks. Not quite as hyped but still a critical anniversary in our lives as young Americans, this October 7th will mark ten years since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom and US engagement in Afghanistan.
Ten years. That’s a pretty long time to keep our troops in danger, and we’re not even close to finishing. Which leads me to wonder; if we could go back to September 12th, 2001 knowing how brutal an Afghan campaign shaped up to be, would we do it again?
As fate would have it, the United States wasn’t the first superpower who thought invading Afghanistan was doable, if not a cake walk. On Christmas Eve in 1979, the Soviet Union’s 40th Army rolled across the border in hopes of bracing the pro-communist government against the Mujahideen, jihadist rebels in favor of a more conservative rule in the land.
Now normally the United States would have had a cow at the idea of communist expansion, as was the case with Korea, Vietnam, etc. Instead of firing up the draft boards and slapping Soviet premier Leonid Brezhnev in the mouth with the Truman Doctrine, we let them have their fun.
Why? Because we saw something in Afghanistan that the Soviets didn’t, as US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski called it the “Afghan trap”.
To make history quick, the US started heavily supplying the Mujahideen (who ended up becoming the guys we’re fighting now), the Soviets wandered around until they lost over 14,000 troops, and in 1989 Moscow decided to call it a decade and withdrew.
We knew exactly what we were getting into by invading Afghanistan. With hit-and-run guerrillas holding little to no regard for their own life popping up around massive swathes of hellish terrain, it’s every tactician’s nightmare.
We went in anyway. I mean, come on. We’ve got combat technology the Soviets couldn’t even dream of in 1979. We’re the baddest kids on the block and we were beyond vengeful in October 2001.
Our public cause at the time was noble, yes. Bringing the heat to those responsible for attacking us was on everyone’s to-do list, but we just couldn’t get the job done quickly and cheaply enough. Now we’re stuck, either waiting for the bad guys to collapse or for the plane ticket home.
I’m not saying I have the answers to why, how, or when we should be finished in Afghanistan, but there is absolutely no doubt in the fact that we’re in an enormous mess over there.