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The Afghanistan withdrawal is not a political football.
It's a deeply painful wound to the Afghan people and every veteran that served there.
TAT readers, today is not a rant, but a deeply emotional request, not just for me but for every veteran of the war in Afghanistan and more importantly, the long-suffering people of a persistently, war-torn nation. It has taken me the past five hours to calm my thoughts after reading a powerful Atlantic article, about the final days of our involvement in Afghanistan. By all accounts, I believe the article to be honest, well-researched and accurate. Some of this I know firsthand after spending part of 5 years straight, deployed there and having worked directly, for one of those mentioned in the article. Please understand the depth of the emotional investment that will flavor today’s article. I began to write, through tears clouding my vision. I can’t tell if the tears are anger, frustration, deep sadness or…? All I know is that those tears sank fully into my soul.
The US, like it or not, is already fully immersed in the 2024 election and the narratives emanating from political “sides” on this topic, are more than a little painful, to those of us who left Afghan brothers and sisters-in-arms behind and some of our friends on the battlefields of Afghanistan.
I am asking that the (insert harsh expletives here) politicos and writers of campaign narratives, cease and desist with their political drive to paint the current administration as incompetent and the sole reason for the failure of the fall of Afghanistan. Also, for those on the “other side,” to stop painting the withdrawal as a remarkable success. Neither are true and to date, the only one accepting responsibility is the current White House. When someone is in charge, the term made famous in politics by President Truman, is the operative one: “The buck stops here.”
There is more than enough blame to go around from all four administrations involved in the war. If one looks closely and from well-informed perspectives, the most critical failures for the generation we spent at war there, stem from the Pentagon, the IC/ Intelligence Community and their insistence on high-priced defense contractors, alleged experts, and antiquated thinking. All of their ideas failed, and human beings lost their lives. Again, living up to the name “Truth about Threats,” I’m letting everyone know that the emperor, has no clothes. The emperor (s) are the national security community, politicians, dishonest media etc.
Over the past couple of years, the FOX, NewsMax, Breitbart, OAN propaganda outlets have been busy building a case for exclusively blaming the current administration for the globally witnessed scenes in Kabul, late August of 2021, 7 months into yet the fourth administration to oversee the war. Despite an intense, brutally honest and non-partisan, seventy-page interim report by the SIGAR/Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, report over the failures, Representative Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican Congressman, Chairman of the House of Representatives committee on Foreign Affairs, led a highly partisan and dishonest investigation into the withdrawal, unashamedly published it like it was anything but a political hack job.
I have plenty of reasons to despise the elected Republicans in Texas, but this report sticks in my crawl like leftovers left in the sun for days, before I ate them. In fact, it does the same in the crawls of all honest Afghan Vets who know and acknowledge the truth.
The non-partisan SIGAR report is from the only office that had access, experience and the power to assemble all of the facts into a coherent narrative:
The 70-page SIGAR report opens with:
“SIGAR found that the single most important factor in the ANDSF’s collapse in August 2021 was the U.S. decision to withdraw military forces and contractors from Afghanistan through signing the U.S.-Taliban agreement in February 2020 under the Trump administration, followed by President Biden’s withdrawal announcement in April 2021. Due to the ANDSF’s dependency on U.S. military forces, these events destroyed ANDSF morale. The ANDSF had long relied on the U.S. military’s presence to protect against large-scale ANDSF losses, and Afghan troops saw the United States as a means of holding their government accountable for paying their salaries. The U.S.-Taliban agreement made it clear that this was no longer the case, resulting in a sense of abandonment within the ANDSF and the Afghan population. The agreement set in motion a series of events crucial to understanding the ANDSF’s collapse.”
- May 2022
Now, the dishonest, hyper-partisan report from McCaul and his Republican political hacks:
I. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY On April 14, 2021, President Joe Biden announced his decision to unconditionally withdraw all U.S. military personnel from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021. Over the following four months, the administration repeatedly delayed critical action that was necessary to mitigate the likely consequences of the decision. The result of their inaction was a chaotic Non-combatant Evacuation Operation (NEO) where 13 U.S. servicemembers lost their lives and more than 800 Americans were abandoned behind enemy lines. This report will examine the Biden administration’s decisions and actions in detail, from the announcement of the president’s decision to withdraw to the months following that decision, the resulting Taliban seizure of power, the chaotic and deadly evacuation, and the long-term impact the withdrawal has had on the United States and our allies.”
- House GOP Foreign Affairs Committee Interim Report "A Strategic Failure: Assessing the Administration's Afghanistan Withdrawal.”
- House GOP Foreign Affairs Committee
- August 18, 2022
Every soul, Afghan, Allied or US involved in this generational conflict, has paid a price, physically, emotionally or both. Like most in my military community, I am in both categories. The US military is largely a family affair with most who serve having family members that preceded them or like my son, served concurrently with me during the twenty years we spent at war. Many families serve our nation or communities in so many ways, so I intend no disrespect to those serving “the greater good” in other capacities. I am saying that those who serve in combat often share their own unique “baggage,” that can have painful, lifelong repercussions.
Then there are Congressmen like McCaul, one of the wealthiest of sitting Congressman who has no idea of what it’s like to put himself on the line for his nation. He even offered full-throated support for the one thing that the SIGAR report assessed, was the primary reason for the Taliban/ withdrawal catastrophe, yes, the same one that he now blames the Biden administration for. Below is his full statement:
"Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX), Lead Republican of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released the following statement on the agreement to try and bring peace to Afghanistan following the week long reduction in violence. “I applaud President Trump, and Secretaries Pompeo and Esper for reaching an agreement with the Taliban and a corresponding joint declaration with the Afghan government. I was briefed by Secretary Pompeo and am hopeful these are the first steps on the path ahead for a safer and more prosperous future for the people of Afghanistan. “This Agreement stipulates there will be a phased withdrawal of our armed forces based on conditions on the ground and our military commander’s assessment. I share the administration’s clear-eyed recognition that our counterterrorism capabilities must continue to be robust until the Taliban verifiably adhere to all elements of the agreement. “As Secretary Pompeo said, the pace of our withdrawal will be contingent on the Taliban’s actions. It is critical that a residual force remain in place until a lasting peace is achieved. This will be vital in ensuring that Afghanistan does not serve as a staging ground for terrorist attacks against the homeland. “Moving forward, a constructive dialogue between the Taliban, Afghan government and other representatives from Afghan society, including women, will be an important test for the viability of this significant effort for a lasting peace. The United States will be working hand in hand with the international community during the next phase of this process. Ultimately, the success of this quest for peace depends on the Taliban upholding their commitments. “While I hope the Taliban live up to their end of the agreement, including cutting ties to al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups, I have serious reservations that they can act as legitimate partners. Strong monitoring and enforcement mechanisms as well as appropriate snapback measures must be ready if they do not follow through. “Ambassador Khalilzad and his team deserve credit for their efforts and bipartisan support as they work towards reaching the next phase of the agreement. I look forward to continued engagement with the Administration as this process moves forward.” - McCaul Statement on Potential Pathway to Peace in Afghanistan Press Release 02.29.20
Here are a few more ugly, utterly dishonest headlines from other far-right congressmen and their media on the withdrawal:
1. “ICYMI, Fox News: House Armed Services Chairman Torches Biden Admin's Afghanistan Withdrawal Memo: ‘Propounds Outright Untruths’
Washington, June 16, 2023
WASHINGTON – Today, Fox News published an exclusive story detailing U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers’ (AL- 03), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, response to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s Afghanistan withdrawal report.
June 16, 2023
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Ala., torched Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s Afghanistan withdrawal report because it pushed "outright untruths."
In a Tuesday letter exclusively obtained by Fox News Digital, Rogers referred to his classified correspondence with Austin earlier this month concerning "multiple discrepancies in the classified version of the After Action Review concerning the botched and deadly withdrawal of U.S. Forces from Afghanistan."
Here’s a dishonest NewMax report from Republican congressman from Florida, Mike Waltz, COL (R) US Special Forces/ Green Beret who should know better and who also stood up and recently endorsed a president that tried to overthrow the US government. In the link he puts the current administration on notice that he thinks it’s all their fault despite the primary finding of the SIGAR Report.
Then there’s this from the NewsMax propaganda media": Exclusive — Trump, Waltz to Meet Afghanistan Withdrawal Gold Star Families at Bedminster
“Former President Donald Trump and Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL) will meet with several Gold Star family members who lost loved ones in Democrat President Joe Biden’s disastrous withdrawal from the war in Afghanistan on Wednesday, Breitbart News has learned exclusively.”
These are but three examples among the thousands reported by far-right propaganda sites masquerading as news outlets.
As I edge towards the summary of this impassioned plea to my fellow citizens and voters, I again ask everyone to seek truth. Yes, there are plenty of examples on the other side of the left of the aisle too, that shows propaganda proclaiming the opposite of the far-right MAGA GOP hacks that now control the GOP and by extension, the House of Representatives. The left side of the aisle’s dishonesty, though just as painful to vets who know better, still pales in comparison to the far-right media machine drumming up false narratives for the upcoming 2024 elections.
At least the left false narratives contain some truth as to the numbers of rescued Afghans, the dedication and courage of troops and supporters, etc. The same cannot be said for hacks like McCaul, Mike Rodgers, Congressman Waltz and yes, the actual Speaker of the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy who sold his soul to the craziest of the MAGA crazies in congress, just to become Speaker.
Something that is critical to combat veterans, is truth. Our lives depend on it on the battlefield and afterwards, our mental health. The folks delivering these hyper-partisan narratives like McCaul and the GOP, don’t give a damn about veterans’ mental health. If they did, they would do what veterans require, which is to, “man up” and accept their role in the debacle. As I said earlier in this piece, there is plenty of blame to go around, from every single administration, Republican or Democratic.
Every one of the congressmen pushing these lies about Afghanistan, fully supported the primary reason that the final days were a failure, the Trump debacle of an agreement with the Taliban, that he and Mike Pompeo failed to put plans in motion for. Of the hundreds of thousands of SIVs/ Special Immigration Visas required, Pompeo’s Dept. of State had only begun processing a little over 400, before they left office. The old saying about people in glass houses not throwing stones… applies here.
The bottom line:
I began this impassioned plea for truth, to not only manage my own mental health but that of countless Afghan Veterans who are sick and tired of being lied to. We’ve heard the Bullsh$$ from military leadership, a bunch of highly paid faux experts that the natsec community is so fond of, from politicians, from our own media etc. What we don’t need is for dishonest politicians to spend a campaign season, perpetually pulling the scabs off our wounds.
Right now, we need to find a little closure from the blood
and treasure lost in a faraway land. These lies by the right, and some on the left, in hopes of winning an election, only pour salt into our proverbial wounds.
Combat Vets like me, won’t stand for it. Our mental health depends on it. If congress and political parties won’t tell the truth, TAT will. That’s what real patriots do.
Best to all,