In that heading, I have quoted the words of Christopher Meyer: “Afghanistan is not done.” The United States has withdrawn, yes. But individual Americans are doing everything they can to rescue their allies from the Taliban. Terrorists are consolidating in Afghanistan, as they did once before. So, yes: In multiple ways, Afghanistan is not done.
Chris Meyer is my guest on Q&A, here. (This is a podcast, I should say.) Chris has led an eventful life. (We’re old friends, which is why I refer to him by his first name.) I’ll tell you a little: He was deployed across three combat zones for 33 months. He received the Bronze Star for his service in Afghanistan. He is the artistic director of a new theater: Veterans Repertory Theater.
And, like many other vets, he is involved in this rescue effort. Our erstwhile allies in Afghanistan are on the run and facing death. Some want to help them. This effort is known, in some quarters, as a “digital Dunkirk.”
One big difference between the current Dunkirk and the original one, says Chris, is that the British government was behind the original one. The current one is being carried out by private citizens, with little government support, and, worse, with government opposition: roadblocks.
It’s hard to put into words how disgusted many American vets feel about our withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the abandonment of people there: U.S. citizens; Afghan soldiers; various people who assisted us over the years; various people who relied on us. These vets are sickened and furious. Some are also highly energetic, working night and day, in the “digital Dunkirk.”
This effort is something that “any American can take pride in,” says Chris — no matter what your views of the Afghan War. This is “America at its finest.” People are standing up and trying to meet what should be a government responsibility — a nation-state responsibility.
Many vets are disgusted by sneers at the Afghan military. Chris Meyer is one of them. They fought shoulder to shoulder with us, says Chris. Many times they were in the lead, especially in the last years. They were injured and killed. Afghan special forces, in particular, were tremendously impressive.
And we “cut the legs out from under them,” says Chris. Suddenly, there was no air support, no intelligence support, no maintenance of aircraft, no drones, etc. The Afghans lost the technological advantages that make our own military so formidable.
Then people snorted at the Afghans for being weak.
Chris Meyer was in Afghanistan when thousands of Taliban prisoners — the most hardened fighters and terrorists — were released. On our say-so. The American say-so. It is hard to imagine how galling — how alarming and shocking — this was for people like Chris. The Taliban could scarcely believe their luck.
We Americans kept the Afghan government out of the room when we negotiated with the Taliban. (President Trump had invited the Taliban to Camp David, but the Taliban messed this up, by committing a bomb attack, which killed twelve people, including a U.S. soldier.) We handed the government a fait accompli — sealing the fate of the country.
In the course of our podcast, Chris Meyer deals with various beliefs about Afghanistan. “Graveyard of empires,” for one. For another? “The Afghans didn’t want us there.” Chris is scorchingly eloquent on this. How about “20 years,” “forever wars,” and the like? Chris is eloquent — and unvarnished — on all of it.
Our pullout from Afghanistan was tragic and self-defeating, he says. Afghanistan is in the neighborhood of some of the most problematic states in the world: Pakistan, Iran, Russia, China . . . It also “houses almost every single Sunni terror group on the planet.” We will be back, Chris fears and predicts. Afghanistan is “not done,” whether we like it or not. (Sometimes the enemy has a vote, too.) “We will pay a price for our short-term memory on the dangers that Afghanistan presents.”
Our podcast, once more, is here.