On Wednesday Axios reported that “the Taliban has stunned even some seasoned military and national security officials in the U.S. government with the speed of its conquests over the past week.”
This admission that much of the D.C. national security establishment was clueless to the rapid rise of Taliban rule and swift fall of the Afghan government is not surprising. They are at fault for promoting an unattainable outcome in Afghanistan for almost two decades, and are suddenly “stunned” when faced with the reality that has existed in Afghanistan all along.
I’ve said it for years: The end result in Afghanistan will look the same, whether we leave in two months or 10 years. The Taliban will quickly topple the Afghan military and government and rule Afghanistan once again.
The Afghan government was never going to be able to stand on its own without the U.S. military and dollars propping it up. That is what the situation on the ground in Afghanistan has always been.
But generals, political leadership at the Pentagon, and DC think tanks painted a different picture. They sold the story of women’s rights, freedom, kids going to school and peace, and overall an Afghan government and military that was self-sustainable, in one of the most volatile regions in the world often referred to as the Graveyard of Empires. Year after year, they continued to make the case that investing in Afghanistan’s future was worth the cost of thousands of American lives and what is now more than $2 trillion of U.S. taxpayer dollars.
They knew the truth, but they lied to us anyway—for almost 20 years. The story was always the same: we are making progress in Afghanistan, the war was worth it, it’s preventing another 9/11, all that’s needed is more time and money. They continued to make these proclamations with nothing to back them up, but met little to no resistance.
In late 2019, the Afghanistan Papers revealed what was being said behind closed doors. The secret government documents divulged that the war was unwinnable, those making decisions did not do so in the context of Afghanistan, and that the American people were continually lied to. John Sopko, the head of the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), even acknowledged “the American people have constantly been lied to.”
Lt. Gen Douglas Lute, the former Afghan White House war czar during the Obama and Bush administrations, said, “If the American people knew the magnitude of this dysfunction … 2,400 lives lost. Who will say this was in vain?” He blamed military deaths on bureaucracy and dysfunction in Congress, the Department of Defense, and the State Department. “What are we trying to do here? We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking.”
The Afghanistan Papers is one of the biggest stories in decades, yet was largely ignored. You’d think that Congress would take issue with being lied to for years and want to hold those accountable for the failures of the Afghanistan war.
But why would they? They are just as guilty for looking the other way while Americans continued to die in a war they continued to fund with taxpayer money and zero results. A war should not last two decades. Congress is just as culpable for throwing money at the problem instead of demanding results and answers.
These people are not stunned. They have just finally realized the jig is up.