As the Taliban recaptured Afghanistan with blistering speed, many Americans are criticizing the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Chaos and the fog of war are currently clouding our complete understanding of our failures and lessons we need to learn from our hasty withdrawal. However, the decision to withdraw was a decision 20 years in the making.
We as Americans became too comfortable in outsourcing our wars. War is a serious decision. The cost of human life and treasure are immense. It demands attention and sacrifice. People die and no one leaves unscarred. Refugees are forcibly displaced from their homes and soldiers are left maimed. Women and children are killed. Combat tests our commitment to our morality and ethics as we weigh choices that are life or death. Our desire for self-preservation clashes with our desire to help one another. Civilians bear the brunt of the fighting and must pick up what remains. Repeat.
War is a serious decision and must only be executed if necessary.
Yet, Americans believed we could lean on the sacrifice of others to fight this war rather than do so ourselves. No draft was instituted, no war bonds were issued, no taxes were raised, and no wartime mobilization occurred. Was America ever serious about fighting this war?
Were we ever really committed to fighting together as a country? Or were we more than willing to let others fight this war abroad while we sat behind a desk and wrote papers about why we need to be in Afghanistan?
Should we send kids into war to risk their lives if we ourselves are not willing to?
So, while the Taliban reinstitute their brutal regime — rescinding the gains of women’s rights and reconstituting their extremist rule — this failure is not just on our government, this is on all of us. Including you and me. Because I cannot ask another person to do something I am not willing to do so myself.
I joined the Army because I felt it was necessary for us to be there. And if I was going to tell others to go over there, I needed to be willing to myself. I never went, and I do not want to go anymore. Therefore, I cannot in good conscience continue to ask others to go. Many of my soldiers finally have some time to focus on their lives and their family. And I want to keep it that way. They deserve it.
But I am willing to share this land and its riches to refugees we can help. And we should all be willing to do so too. In the same path we owed Korean and Vietnamese refugees, we have an obligation to provide sanctuary for Iraqis, Afghanis, Libyans, Syrians, Kurds, and so many more. Let us put down our fears of others and instead welcome them to our land. We should provide them with an opportunity to live in peace. They deserve it.