Wednesday, August 31, 2022

A Stain Unfaded by Time: a Year After the Fall of Kabul

All month I tried to ... no ... I asked myself to come up with something good at the 1-yr anniversary of the national humiliation that was our negotiated retreat/surrender of Kabul a year ago, but here I am the night of the 30th and the morning of the 31st ... and I have pretty much nothing. "Good?" No.

I failed you and myself. I'm not all that happy about it either - but that kind of fits the moment.

I looked at the subtitles of the posts I did a year ago on the 31st of August, 5th of September, and 7th of September of 2021; 

- the fault, shame and humiliation is all ours; all red, white, and blue

- the good in the shadows

- the people, promises, and reputation we left in a sewage ditch  

...and I think that I will just roll with that.

While in uniform, Iraq was not "my war." From the C5F AOR and AFG proper from 07SEP01 and months following, AFG was my war for most of the rest of my years until then towards the end of 2QFY09, I left Kabul for good and inside six months later became a civilian. Most of that almost 8-yrs was either focused directly on AFG or indirectly supporting it - the archive is there for new readers and over on Midrats. It was an old war when I left it, yet it went on for another dozen years.

I failed. They failed. We failed.

I do have a lot to say on the topic, but not today. So many good Americans gave their lives and bodies - and those of their husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters - and friends - for what in the end accomplished ... I'm not sure much more than another example of what not to do.

It did not have to end this way - but it did and we need to account for it. 

Even in our retreat from the airport, we lost 13 (11 Marines, one Soldier, one Sailor), and yet - almost silence from our most senior people who a year later feel content to enjoy their high positions and intact reputations.

It is sociopathic.

I wish as a nation we would demand accountability. Our military will fire field grade officers in command for a whole host of reasons - from serious felonies to subjective performance in exercises - and yet a year on from our greatest national humiliation since our defeat in Vietnam - where is the accountability for the 4-stars and SES who failed?

No one was fired in DOD or DOS for what happened in Afghanistan. No one resigned. Indeed, when we do hear from them, our most senior leaders at the time make excuses and point blame ... looking to do little more than keep their position and privilege in their carefully curated circle. 

The real heroes of the fall are mostly unknown. I know a few, and I am sure some of you do too.

In the last year I know people who have invested huge amounts of personal time and money to help their Afghan friends - and even fellow Americans - who we shamefully abandoned in that hellhole of our creation. They are still working, mostly in silence to get good people out. Our own State Department has stood in their way by acts of both commission and omission; our DOD distracted elsewhere.

No, I'm not over things. Not close. I have not moved past my thoughts of last August and September.

My bust.

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