Letter: The withdrawal from Afghanistan

I fully support President Biden’s decision to extract us from Afghanistan.

The 20-year war was not a Scrabble game. The end was bound to be messy, and the professional chaos-makers will be the first to point the finger. Then will come the ex-soldiers who want to promote their novels (I’ve read one such commentary in The New York Times) and the Republican presidential hopefuls who wish to promote their candidacies or prove their devotion to the former guy. The former guy grumbled the other day that he would have handled the end of the war better (just as he did the pandemic). Let us note that the evacuations are proceeding, that the international financial system gives us broad control over Afghanistan’s monetary reserves and that the Taliban are smart enough to know they no longer have a state to overthrow, but a country to govern.

The Taliban won because they played the long game. We had to leave their country eventually.


Afghanistan did not fall at the end because they laid siege to cities. It fell because the Taliban were busy anticipating the endgame. This spring they practiced what an 8/19/21 article in The New York Times described as “coercion and persuasion.” The Taliban “cut multiple surrender deals that handed them bases and ultimately entire provincial command centers.” They entered cities almost without any need to fire a gun.

What were we doing in Afghanistan? Revenge is never a good foundation for policy. Neither is that other essential American motivator: Let the insiders make as much money as possible for as long as possible. This was true for the warlords and the everyday Afghanis who served as police and military because there was no other way to work for a payday. At all levels, we paid indigenous mercenaries who served simply to make their buck.

The invasion of Iraq and the eventual destabilizing and restructuring of the Middle East, and the loss of many American and Iraqi lives, were premised on the greed of American oilmen and their related industries to grab the oil of Iraq, which they piggybacked on our invasion of Afghanistan. It was all destined to end in Hell.

War is Hell, and the guardian of Hell, Cerberus, had three heads. So did our own recent Cerberus: Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld, a/k/a The Decider/Halliburton’s Hustler/The Known Unknown. Bush could have had Osama bin Laden early in the war, but by that time his two puppet masters had their eyes set on Iraq, with Afghanistan an afterthought. Our Republican-led government lied our way into a second front, much to the surprise of the man they deposed, Saddam Hussein, who despised Al Qaeda – a feeling that was mutual. If you were too young to understand this lie, please look it up: Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11, and he had no weapons of mass destruction. Our Iraq invasion was premised on a lie.

Days after 9/11, the House granted wide latitude to President Bush to wage war against Afghanistan by a vote of 420-1. Congresswoman Barbara Lee was the only member of Congress to vote against invading Afghanistan. On the floor of the House, she stood to say, “[Let us] think through the implications of our actions today so that this does not spiral out of control.” She said, quoting the dean of the Washington Cathedral, the Rev. Nathan Baxter, “[Let us] not become the evil we deplore.”

President Biden, you have taken the necessary step. History will remember you well for having disengaged the United States from a moral and financial sinkhole. I fervently hope you aid effectively in the rescue of Afghanis who helped, and whose own sense of the possible had been broadened through their work. I fervently hope the raised hopes and expectations of Afghan women and men will change the facts on the ground within families and tribes, so that the Taliban’s medieval thinking is forced to make accommodations with the modern world. I fervently hope that the Taliban, now returning to power, will find surprising new ways to exist with the community of nations. Our ongoing, worldwide climate catastrophe requires no less of all of us.

For the men and women who served and died in Afghanistan, and their families, I mourn with you. I mourn the loss of life and limb; I mourn the dashed illusions of the nobility of war. On the ground, the shedding of blood is doubtless always accompanied by noble acts and the cementing of brother/sisterhood. But on the day after, while tallying the trillions wasted on a tragic loss of blood and treasure for the enrichment of the influential few, will we have awakened to a new day where our nation’s honor is determined not by the caliber of our guns, but by the actual and highest ideals of our nation’s character?

William Weinstein
New Paltz

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There are 15 comments

  1. Tracy P

    Well said my friend, well said. The recent events were and are hard to hear, and endure. Nonetheless, it had to happen. A misbegotten entry into this/that war, led to a misbegotten end. It was inevitable that we would have to exit, and inevitable that there would be both negative repercussions and loss of life. Loss of lives of individuals who knew their job, did it with honor, but accepted when their Commander In Chief told them It’s time to end this, because they agreed.
    Change is hard, most hard for those with their financial losses (namely the Cerberus). But, let us not make the same mistakes again, let us not have to send our new soldier children into another misbegotten “war”.
    I applaud you and your letter.

  2. Jaymes Nohns

    Biden has done a hell of a job with thus one. Just wait till you see how poorly he handles Hurricane Ida. He will most likely be be taking a nap again, while people suffer….

    1. Jaymes Nohns

      Have you seen the pics of people being hung via helicopter? The helicopters that Biden left behind? If you havent, please feel free to take a look…..its all you need to know. If it doesnt piss you off, you are part of the problem. And if you voted for Biden, blood is on your hands also. For the record, ALL veterans feel as I do. Remember this while you are drinking a latte, in the freedom of your own home. Freedom is not free…..unless you think like the clown in the White House that checks his watch while recieving dead veterans….gimme a break people. Y’all are upset with my “Negativity?”……its time all of you grow a spine, its amazing how to weak you have become.

      1. *Sigh*

        As always Jaymes, you make gross uniformed generalizations. 19 million veterans and you KNOW how they all feel. Still waiting on you and that big sign on Main Street so we can point and laugh.

        Countless tragedies in the world that no one cares about till it fits their narrative.

      2. Bill H

        Angry troll, the atrocities in Afghanistan have been on display for decades. I mean the real ones, not your false stuff. The “hanging from helicopter” video you speak of is false, but I am not surprised that you were duped by it and are now enflamed. It only takes the slightest movement of a few fingers to Google it and learn. But, no… not Nohns. QAnon’s version is plenty.
        Check this out (and dozens of other journalistic sources that have debunked the nonsense Nohns embraces as fact:

        In this day and age we must make sure we are not going to one source for information, or a few that are all too similar. We have to be sure to explore multiple perspectives, or we are too vulnerable to manipulation and disinformation. We can’t just read from the sources that we agree with (especially if they are routinely generating conspiracy theories that get you really upset).

        Notice in Nohn’s rant the absence of ideas about what SHOULD be done in Afghanistan to keep people from being terrorized as the U.S. exits. Like nearly all of his posts, this is all intensely fixated on Joseph Biden (and, formerly, Cuomo) who stole the election. No one else seems to exist, especially in terms of responsibility. Perhaps Nohns is one of those armchair warriors that thinks we should stay and continue unsuccessfully, directionlessly “smashing the hell out of ’em”.

        And notice this ridiculous statement: “For the record, ALL veterans feel as I do.” Wow. Watch out for such absolute statements because they will always be wrong. Nohns could try learning more about how nuanced and diverse the U.S. veteran population is. Either he does do not know veterans or is being dishonest. Here’s one of a thousand sources he might choose to read:

        Folks, I am sorry, I know that Nohns’s angry platitudes and generalities do not sway good people. Maybe it’s a flaw in me, but I am compelled to push back when the rage-filled Internet bullies try to ransack goodness and reason.

  3. BS

    Sorry, just have too handle this pest, of misinformation, truly I do not wish too repartee’ with a fool, but alas I must, it is written in my DNA, and every thread of my crusading fiber. President Biden (Your Leader, and if you do not think so, then, YOU, INDEED ARE THE PROBLEM.) looked down at the Rosary, from his lost and deceased son, that he wears around his wrist, close too his heart, in solemn prayer for his fallen Women and Men.

    Here is a little fact, that you may not have caught, being so uninformed and narrow minded, but President Biden was the good Senator, for many years mind you, of the State of Delaware, where all fallen overseas deployed military are flown home too, at Dover, he never missed one soldiers remains coming home, solemnly praying, as he looked at his son’s Rosary Beads.

    Jaymes, I wish you would just take a hike, nobody believes you, you are burying your reputation, and all but destroyed any chance of saving your veracity. You are a fool, moreover divvy. So what does that make me, huh?

  4. Fredi Jarmel

    A video showing the “Taliban hanging someone from a helicopter”, is being used as propaganda by Conservative blog sites, right-wing pundits and Republican Party politicians such as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to discredit Biden, our military, and state department as having a failed policy has been proven false by all credible fact checking sites. Yet Faux Fox News reports it as true? What the fuck is wrong with this station… The person can be seen in other photographs and videos moving and waving his arms while suspended from a harness.

    Several news outlets and fact-checkers reported that the person had been tasked with trying to fix a flag on a public building.

  5. Captain Trips

    Bill H. no need for apologies. This guy, as well as leaders such as Cruz, has(ve) been exposed here in an accredited news publication, with gazillions of evidential documentation, that he deceives. Not only causing the spread of a deadly pandemic, but ultimately causing economic instability, death, grief, medical services overload further causing sickness and death and possible fracture of all medical services for everyone, and the shut down of our economy causing more of the above listed maladies, in some Schadenfreude delight. His documented non-fact disguised as fact comments of misinformation causes no less than the above sentence, yet he thinks it’s a blast, and it is some game, that he has to win, no matter how many, nor who he hurts. Ha, ha, ha, as he get’s his jollies off. Everything that he has posted defy the tenets that the Father’s of this Great Nation, and the undersigned, marked, sealed and witnessed certificate’s they left us, stand for. Why he is forever marked and documented here a deceiver, an un-American, and possibly a mentally unstable tenet of our public comment area. Once tagged, who would ever, believe him again? Anyone, anywhere, and anytime, about anything at all, ever? So, no Bill H. Shutting this guy down using factual documentation, and truth, is all we can do. Informing, as you continually do, quite possibly keeping others from pain and death. Thank You Sir! Amazing that the truth does set one free. I, as I noticed you, can not ignore a pest, once in your home, our fly swatter is just the facts, just the facts. Peace my friend.

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