When our nation’s military must intervene, it never ends well

If there is a local entity with the competence to be our partner in the foreign country, they probably have things under control already and need only our hardware and cash.

SHARE When our nation’s military must intervene, it never ends well

Evacuees from Afghanistan wait to board a plane at the airport in Kabul Aug. 30, 2021.

AP Photos

There is a tell for determining whether we can successfully intervene in a foreign country:

If we have to be there, it won’t work.

If there is a local entity with sufficient competence and integrity to be our partner in the operation, they would, probably, have things under control already and their need for support would be satisfied by some hardware and cash. It is when we have to intervene militarily that we should, instead, be looking for the exit.

The government of South Vietnam was corrupt. The government of Afghanistan was corrupt. Corruption undermines effectiveness and public support and makes the opposition seem less dreadful for some who might otherwise support the government.

If we have to be there, it won’t work. Can we remember this simple rule the next time?

Curt Fredrikson, Mokena

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Obama missed on Afghanistan

Unless I’ve missed something, former President Barack Obama has been pretty much silent all through the ongoing debacle in Afghanistan, and with good reason. We killed Osama Bin Laden in May of 2011, just less than two and a half years into Obama’s first term. If our “mission” in that country was to get Bin Laden and eliminate the threat from Al Qaeda, it was pretty much accomplished by then. The emphasis shifted to the Taliban and the supposed goal of making Afghanistan over into a democracy.

If Obama wanted to end the war in Afghanistan, he could have told the Pentagon and Congress, look, we need to reevaluate why we’re there, and come up with an exit strategy. After he was elected to a second term, he had four years to get us out and prepare the Afghan government and military for our departure.

But Obama never did a controversial thing in his political career, with the possible exception of the Affordable Care Act. For eight of the 20 years we were in Afghanistan, the heart of that occupation, Obama was at the helm in the United States — not Donald Trump and not Joe Biden, who inherited the worst hand an American president was ever dealt.

John Vukmirovich, Lemont

Afghan exit was doomed

Critics who attack the way the Biden administration managed the withdrawal from Afghanistan are just plain wrong. As one commentator has pointed out, no country has ever cleanly pulled out of a losing war in another country and successfully aided what was essentially a migration of over 100,000 people to other countries.

Afghanistan has been in a state of war, internally or with invaders, for more than 150 years. Britain invaded three times between 1838 and 1919. The Soviet Union invaded in 1979. We were the fifth invaders, in 2001, and we were there the longest.

The Soviets had the advantage of a land border with Afghanistan. They marched across a bridge and out of the country into what is now Uzbekistan in 1989. They did not take 100,000 civilians with them. And international terrorism was not as common as it is today.

So it was always going to be a mess. Starting the pullout earlier, spreading it out over a month or more, would have prolonged the risk, giving terrorists more time and more targets. It needed to be done and done quickly, and that’s what Biden chose to do.

However, the Biden administration has the blackest of marks for one action near the very end of the process: one last drone strike.

Testifying before Congress in 1971, John Kerry said, “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?” This time, 13 Americans died for the mistake, but they were not the last to die. Ten civilian members of one Afghan family members died in a drone strike. They were the last to die for our mistake.

Michael Hart, West Ridge

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