Thursday, August 26, 2021

An American Tragedy in Afghanistan

The American tragedy of Afghanistan is deeper than the 12 U.S. servicemen and 60 Afghans who perished Thursday in twin suicide bombing attacks at the Kabul airport, site of a desperate evacuation drama.  

The tragedy is that after 20 years fighting religious extremists we remain unable to understand, much less quash, their ideology or devotion to indifference to the pain and suffering of their victims. 

As sad and as tragic the loss of life was for our troops, they died fulfilling their mission. Military life is inherently dangerous. We had been warned a suicide bombing was possible. It is almost impossible to thwart such an endeavor by a lone, dedicated practitioner. 

The tragedy is that even after America and our allies leave Afghanistan there will be more such atrocities, be they from ISIS or Taliban or other ideologues with a grievance against schools, women, ex-government employees, or religious sects not to their liking. 

The tragedy is that partisan politics permeates every reaction to events however positive or negative. Republican calls for Joe Biden’s resignation ring hollow from a party that dismissed multiple unconstitutional actions by Donald Trump. 

The tragedy is that another U.S. president with a domestic agenda intended to enhance the lives of millions of needy, less fortunate Americans may have his legacy tainted by an international foe. Lyndon Johnson stayed put in Vietnam, sapping his ability to fully implement his Great Society initiative. Biden sought a hasty departure from Afghanistan even as Democrats try with the slimmest of margins to enact groundbreaking civil rights and social benefit programs. 

The tragedy is that the political storm over the bombings will shift attention away from tragedies at home—COVID with its impact on health, the economy and education; devastating fires; hurricane and flood damage; drought; voting rights suppression; home foreclosures; unchecked immigration along the Southern border. 

The tragedy is that Biden will forever be blamed for Thursday’s deaths while his predecessors—Bush II, Obama, Trump—will get off lighter even though they were commanders-in-chief during an unwinnable, prolonged war that claimed the lives of some 2,300-2,500 Americans. 

According to Reuters, “Thursday’s U.S. military casualties were the first in Afghanistan since February 2020 and represented the deadliest day for American troops there in a decade.”