On February 15th, 1989 Soviet General Boris Gromov stoically walked across the Afghan-Uzbek border, as camera crews filmed the momentous event. He was the last Soviet officer to leave Afghanistan, marking an official end to a nine-year war that had killed nearly 15,000 soldiers, and had drained the coffers of a crumbling communist regime. While it was a somewhat dignified end to the bloody quagmire, nobody had any illusions as to what this meant for Russia. The soviet war machine had clearly lost the war to the ragtag Mujahideen, and their American supporters.
Fast forward 15 years later, and what you’ll see is a somewhat similar scene playing out for US military forces in Afghanistan, though I would argue it is far less dignified. The White House recently released a statement claiming that the war is finally over and, get this, we’ve made Afghanistan safe for democracy!
Today’s ceremony in Kabul marks a milestone for our country. For more than 13 years, ever since nearly 3,000 innocent lives were taken from us on 9/11, our nation has been at war in Afghanistan. Now, thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, our combat mission in Afghanistan is ending, and the longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion.
On this day we give thanks to our troops and intelligence personnel who have been relentless against the terrorists responsible for 9/11–devastating the core al Qaeda leadership, delivering justice to Osama bin Laden, disrupting terrorist plots and saving countless American lives. We are safer, and our nation is more secure, because of their service. At the same time, our courageous military and diplomatic personnel in Afghanistan–along with our NATO allies and coalition partners–have helped the Afghan people reclaim their communities, take the lead for their own security, hold historic elections and complete the first democratic transfer of power in their country’s history.
The president has decided to leave a small contingent of 11,000 soldiers, to help train and equip the fledgling state police and military. What he doesn’t understand, is that the Taliban and its allies do not view this as the end. They aren’t going to stop until all US forces leave, and Afghanistan’s armed forces are defeated.
In fact, this past year has been one of the deadliest for Afghanistan’s military. The past 6 months has seen 1,300 casualties among security forces, as the Taliban continues to push into territory that was previously secured by NATO. Without the aid of Western air support, the local military and police that we spent so much time and effort to train, are being hammered by the insurgency.
And while Washington is busy spinning this PR disaster into a momentous victory, the Taliban is calling it like it is.
(Reuters) – Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan on Monday declared the “defeat” of the U.S. and its allies in the 13-year-old war, a day after the coalition officially marked the end of its combat mission…
…“ISAF rolled up its flag in an atmosphere of failure and disappointment without having achieved anything substantial or tangible,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in an statement emailed on Monday.
The Soviets knew when they’d been beat, and acted accordingly. They were only stupid enough to keep the war going for 9 years. So far we’ve been 4 years dumber than them and counting, because this war isn’t really over. We’ve heard this all before with Iraq. How many times was victory declared there before we pulled our troops out, and how long did it take for ISIS to drag us back in?
In truth, Afghanistan isn’t over until the Taliban says it’s over. And they’re not going to stop until all US forces leave, and our corrupt puppet regime has been thoroughly defeated.
Image: Depiction of the sole survivor of Britain’s 1842 Retreat From Kabul, The first, but certainly not the final British defeat in Afghanistan.