Don’t Worry, Ukraine. We’ll Look Out for You, Just Like Afghanistan
The Bourbon dynasty lost power in the French Revolution, got restored after Napoleon, repeated all the same mistakes, and lost the throne again forever. One statesman said of the Bourbons, “They learned nothing, and forgot nothing.” Some of our leaders in Congress are promising to do exactly the same after our devastating surrender in Afghanistan.
My organization, the Vulnerable People Project, works on the ground trying to help the vulnerable in Afghanistan and in Ukraine. We focused our efforts especially on the 170,000 or so Afghans who helped American soldiers on the front lines, and were promised U.S. visas — then abandoned by Joe Biden in his infamous cut and run. So when Congress held long-overdue hearings about America’s vast strategic failure in the country, I was riveted.
The event was historic. Republicans took the hearings seriously, and gravely recounted the staggering failures of our government, and the price that innocents paid. They avoided easy political digs at the clown show in the White House. We heard from military heroes who’d bled for us, and now demanded answers. Some crucial truths emerged which too few Americans wish to think about.
Democrats Sneering and Sniping
But Democrats utterly lacked the gravitas and seriousness you’d expect from the ruling elite of the most powerful nation on earth, as they looked at what their party got wrong in the deepest humiliation that nation had suffered in decades. One which resulted in thousands of deaths, and the transfer of $88 billion in military assets to its bitterest enemies.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee, finally controlled by Republicans, was courageous in calling such hearings. And the testimony by American service members was wrenching. As an Army infantry veteran, I well imagine the profound frustration and pain our troops experienced. Their commanders back home enabled absolute chaos on the ground in Kabul and elsewhere, squandering the service members’ courage, and in many cases their lives.
A Hero Demands Answers
Marine Sgt. Tyler Vargas-Andrews, present at the bombing of Kabul airport’s Abbey Gate on Aug. 26, 2021, testified:
I opened my eyes to Marines dead or unconscious lying around me. … My body was overwhelmed from the trauma of the blast. My abdomen had been ripped open, every inch of my exposed body except for my face took ball bearings and shrapnel.
The withdrawal was a catastrophe in my opinion, and there was an inexcusable lack of accountability and negligence. The 11 Marines, one sailor and one soldier that were murdered that day have not been answered for.
Sgt. Vargas-Andrews lost an arm and a leg in the blast. Nobody in the FBI or NCIS even interviewed him after the terror strike — maybe because their superiors didn’t want to hear about the order he’d received not to shoot the terrorist before he set off the bomb.
The Biden Regime Didn’t Even Show Up
Neither the U.S. Secretary of State nor our Secretary of Defense even bothered to attend and listen to this Marine. (To be fair, Secretary Blinken was busy conferring an International Women of Courage award on a biological male.)
The Biden gang would like us all to forget about Afghanistan, and focus instead on the latest shiny object waved in front of us. (Look, we found someone with a totally new sexual kink to run some federal agency!) But the substance of the testimony, for anyone who cares about U.S. security and the well-being of Afghans, was profoundly alarming.
Rep. Susan Wild set the tone. On the one hand, she grandstanded that America must learn from its Afghan blunders the price of “forever wars.” Then she made sure to signal to our current crop of militarists that she didn’t really mean it: “I categorically reject any comparison on what is going on in Ukraine and the United States’ support of Ukraine.”
The Real Isolationists
These people in charge aren’t serious. They don’t really care what happens in other countries, except insofar as it either buffs or tarnishes their image here at home, at the Beltway parties where they nibble on canapes, and the meetings with defense industry lobbyists where they butter their bread.
In country after country, American elites of both parties like to throw our weight around, then when things get ugly cut and run and shrug it all off. They leave behind the poor victims who were niave enough to trust us: The freedom-loving South Vietnamese, the Christians and Kurds in Iraq, the U.S. allies in Afghanistan.
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We at the VPP don’t believe in that. Neither do thousands of U.S. veterans, who care deeply about the people who helped preserve their lives and advance their missions in Afghanistan. Many of our volunteers and biggest supporters are U.S. combat veterans who served there, and feel ashamed of how Biden squandered their efforts, betrayed their friends, and empowered the Taliban. Some 74 percent of U.S. veterans who served there feel “betrayed” by how we left Afghanistan. No wonder that calls to Veterans Administration suicide hotlines spiked 81% since August 2021.
Skin in the Game
I personally feel that the best way to make sure that we don’t make the same false promises and bloody mistakes again in Ukraine is to force American elites to pay the price for their last set of betrayals and blunders — in Afghanistan. I can’t think of a legal way to make the defense contractors who got rich promoting endless American wars in the Middle East pay for the damage they did. I’m doing all I can through VPP to assuage the human cost to innocents and our allies.
One thing each of us can do? Stop voting for the candidates who flippantly sign on for “forever wars.” Before we listen to what someone like Lindsey Graham or Nikki Haley has to say about Ukraine, look back at what they said on Iraq and Afghanistan. How’d that hold up? Maybe we shouldn’t trust such people’s judgment ever again. And maybe the Ukrainians should think twice about trusting their promises.
Jason Jones is a senior contributor to The Stream. He is a film producer, author, activist and human rights worker.