By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
On Wednesday, April 14th, Joe Biden announced that America was going to end what he calls the “Forever War” on the 20th anniversary of the jihadist attacks that snuffed out the lives of more than 3,000 souls on our soil. That attack changed our lives forever, from the invasion of privacy to having to partially undress before getting on a plane, or, as I have personally experienced, being searched and touched in ways that in any other context would be considered criminal.
The response to the announcement was fairly predictable, and reminded me of the drawdown of the Vietnam War, except so far there is no drama over the physical shape of the negotiating table as there was when we met with the Viet Cong, and inadvertently set that table for one of the most iconic war-time photos ever—people hanging off of American planes as they lifted off the airfield in Saigon. Some things never change: there were “hawks” and “doves” then, and there are “hawks” and “doves” now, although you don’t hear the term as much this time around. Below are three samples of responses from well-known lawmakers.
“President Biden recognizes the reality that our continued presence there does not make the U.S. or the world safer,” said Massachusetts Senator and former presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren. “Year after year, military leaders told Congress and the American people that we were finally turning the corner in Afghanistan, but ultimately we were only turning in a vicious circle.”
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders basically echoed Senator Warren’s sentiments when he added that it was “the brave and right decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan and bring an end to the longest war in our country’s history.”
And Representative Liz Cheney, who sought to have President Trump impeached, said by contrast,
“Wars don’t end when one side abandons the fight.
“Withdrawing our forces from Afghanistan by September 11 will only embolden the very jihadists who attacked our homeland on that day twenty years ago. By declaring that this withdrawal is not based on conditions on the ground, the Biden Administration is sending a dangerous signal that the United States fundamentally does not understand—or is willfully ignorant of—the terrorist threat.
President Biden’s decision hands the Taliban and al Qaeda a propaganda victory, (emphasis mine) abandons our global leadership position, and plays into our adversaries’ hands. As we saw with President Obama’s reckless decision to pull troops out of Iraq in 2011, retreat does not end the fight against terrorism. It merely gives our enemies more room to reconstitute and plot attacks against the homeland.”
I am in no way suggesting that things should just keep on going on the way that they have, but I agree with Senator Cheney on this. However, here is my bigger beef, and it stems from my time in Iraq and trying to encourage our soldiers on the morning that the announcement of a phased withdrawal sent the same message to our enemies. Essentially, we signaled them to regroup, and then thankfully the unexpected “surge” pushed them back. I was so angry at the effect of that announcement on our Joes and Janes that I nearly shook. So, now that history seems to be repeating itself, I have to ask it: Why in the Billy-blue-Sam-hill are you announcing that “the end” will come on the very day that jihadists danced as the Towers came down? Is it really your intention to create yet another generation of vets that have been made to feel that their efforts and sacrifices over the past two decades have been pointless? I certainly hope not.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner