Your November article, “Looking Back at a Forever War,” stepped toward wisdom by looking through the eyes of real people who were really involved. But you mistook the start of the war. It was not after 9/11. It was 1979, the Soviet invasion.
My family started supporting the Afghans immediately in 1979. I am of Slovak ancestry, and the Soviet Union had crushed not just Slovakia but dozens of countries, killing millions of innocent people with impunity. They bestrode the world then, with an unbroken winning record stretching through the 1970s.
Our response to Afghanistan must be not so much humanitarianism as gratitude. They toppled the Soviet Union, and we have never said “thank you.”
Only in Afghanistan did the resistance hang on through a dark decade. Thanks largely to their Afghan failure, the Soviet Union fell — and the world immediately abandoned Afghanistan. Their national fault of too much reverence for the authority of foreigners (in this case Arabian) led them to the Taliban and terrorism by 2001. Then we went in, with massive arrogance, and the Afghans, with too much reverence for the authority of Americans, let us establish an ill-fitted, centralized, and totally corrupt regime while ignoring their homegrown local leaders (our allies, whom we smeared as “warlords”).
Now they are veering back into abandonment and starvation. Our response to Afghanistan must be not so much humanitarianism as gratitude. They toppled the Soviet Union, and we have never said “thank you.”