Afghanistan soldiers guarding Bagram Airfield woke up Tuesday morning to discover that the U.S. Army had sneaked out in the night without telling its ally.
But the Army left some going-away gifts to soften the blow: several hundred armored vehicles, small arms, and tons of ammunition.
Good luck, guys! Don't forget to write!
Retired General Jack King, a television news analyst, said the Americans made a mistake. We should have left enough troops to support the Afghan army--particularly air support. Otherwise, the Taliban--America's sworn enemy--will retake the county in a matter of weeks or months.
And the Taliban will retaliate against the local people who worked for the United States as translators, security guards, and informants. Those people will have to leave their native country or be killed.
King is being proven right. Aljazeera News reports that the Taliban now controls about a third of the country, and Afghan soldiers are fleeing across the border into the old Soviet-era Asian republics.
Remember those hapless Vietnamese people scrambling onto retreating American helicopters? Yes, we've seen this movie before.
On the other hand, America's twenty-year war in Afghanistan--like a bad marriage--had to end sometime. The British were in Afghanistan in the nineteenth century and got their clock cleaned. If you want to read a fictional account of that disaster, check out George McDonald Fraser's humorous novel Flashman and the Great Game.
Then the Russians invaded Afghanistan and got their Slavic butts kicked. Wanna see a movie about that? Watch Charlie Wilson's War, starring Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Amy Adams.
Would America have been better off spending trillions of dollars on infrastructure rather than blowing it in Asia? What if we had built a high-speed train system like the Europeans or stabilized our eroding coastline instead of hauling gasoline into Afghanistan over the Khyber Pass?
But I do not claim to be a foreign-policy expert. Maybe our government did the right thing by invading Afghanistan after 9/11. I simply don't know.
When I face a philosophical quandary, I often consult the archives of country music, which ponders the cosmic issues. The Afghan army may be listening to Willy Nelson this morning as it tours the abandoned American military bases: