America’s Longest War. Is it Finally Over?

Statement on Afghanistan withdrawal by Global Exchange Executive Council
September 2021

The collapse of the American occupation in Afghanistan — and the pain-filled rush toward the exits by so many of those associated with it — is a humanitarian disaster foretold. 

The disaster was foretold just after the attacks of September 11, 2001 when we organized and appealed to the George W Bush administration NOT to respond with war and invasion — because more killing was not going to fix what was wrong — and that it would be much harder to get out, than it was to get in.

Our appeals not to go to war were shunned 20 years ago. Barabara Lee, was the only member of Congress who courageously voted NOT to give George W.Bush the “war making authority” he used to invade Afghanistan.  

Now, in 2021, headline after headline affirm that the original decision to go to war was hasty and hubristic. 

Twenty years of war in Afghanistan (plus Iraq) have led to hundreds of thousands of pointless deaths, needless division in our country, drained resources, and delay in finding solutions to urgent matters like climate change and so much more. We are glad that the high tech weapons of death will finally fall silent across much of Afghanistan, but that does not mean our country  should walk away from the mess we did so much to create.

Biden’s decision to end the US occupation was the right and inevitable one.  Someone had to put an end to America’s long imperial fling — and bear the political consequences. He did it. 

It is notable that most of the high-profile naysayers of the withdrawal or quibblers about its rough implementation were supporters of our frenzied charge into Afghanistan and the fantasy of nation building. 

Meanwhile, Barbara Lee and those who opposed this debacle from the start must patiently teach a new generation why we must never again wage wars of anger that inevitably turn cruel, bitter, and immoral. And we must do our best to help at least some of the people this disastrous war has left in harm’s way. 

We should support visas for people whose work on behalf of the American occupation now puts them at risk. We hope that any settling of scores is short lived and that the Taliban turn out to be better rulers than what we’d expect from wartime propaganda. In the meantime, we are obliged to help. And we should keep our minds open too. Look how our ideas of former “enemies” evolve –Japan, Italy, Vietnam, and the Philippines to name just a few.

If you know people in Afghanistan trying to get to safety, we are extending resources here that may help. Check back regularly for updates.