A divided US agrees Afghanistan withdrawal is a mess

Blame game aside, even the most jaded have compassion for the Afghan people

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As we approach the formal end to the war in Afghanistan, a conflict that has lasted 20 years and cost a trillion dollars as well as thousands of lives, Americans are as divided as ever.

It probably comes as no surprise that the majority on the right have chosen to blame US President Joe Biden for “losing the war” and that most Democrats are standing by their man and vocally supporting the drawdown and ultimate exit.

The conflict, launched by former US president George W Bush in response to the events of 9/11, was supported by flag-waving conservatives, only to be called a quagmire when former president Barack Obama took office.

Former president Donald Trump declared that all troops would be home by Christmas 2020 and one month later, told reporters that he had spoken with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the co-founder of the Taliban, saying, “We've agreed there's no violence, we don't want violence, we'll see what happens. They're dealing with Afghanistan, but we'll see what happens.”

Americans agree on little these days, turned inward by a lingering pandemic and sapped by a culture war that has divided families and friends. They also are often painted with the same broad brush — that they are ethnocentric and oblivious as to what happens beyond US shores.

But many now agree the Taliban have violated the agreement made with Mr Trump, and that they have little regard for UN sanctions or peace talks.

They also are fearful for the futures of the Afghans the US is leaving behind, many of whom served alongside American troops.

“No one is ever going to trust us again because people like me looked [the Afghans] in the eye and made them a promise,” former CIA analyst Matt Zeller told MSNBC.

“The only reason why I am here is because my interpreter shot two people during a battle that were about to kill me and he believed that Americans were honourable people who kept their word.”

Molly Montgomery, deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, worked in Afghanistan and expressed deep concern for the girls who remain behind.

“I woke up with a heavy heart thinking about the Afghan women and girls I worked with during my time in Kabul. They were the beneficiaries of many of the gains we made and now they stand to lose everything. We empowered them to lead and now we are powerless to protect them,” she said in a tweet she subsequently deleted.

Updated: August 17th 2021, 7:43 AM
Holly Aguirre

Holly Aguirre

Holly is a veteran journalist, producer, radio host and on-air correspondent. She has covered presidential elections, murder trials, the Oscars, the Emmys and much more for various publications including Vanity Fair, NBC, CBS Radio, The New York Times, The New York Post, Rolling Stone and others.