The US and NATO lowered their flags on December 28, 2014, in Afghanistan and turned over the responsibility for security to Afghan forces. Nobody is seriously talking about winning or peace with honor. The US is just trying to stop the bleeding--its own bleeding. The Afghan people will continue to bleed for a long time. This is another lesson that wars are much easier to start than they are to stop. It is a lesson that the US just will not learn.
It was less than a year ago that President Obama told the graduation class of 2014 at West Point that they need not worry about dying in Iraq or Afghanistan:
"You are the first class to graduate since 9/11 who may not be sent into combat in Iraq or Afghanistan," said Obama then. (HERE )
In case any of the cadets were worried about not earning a Purple Heart posthumously, they needn't be. They will still have their chance in both Afghanistan and Iraq. If not there, Obama seems to have the will to find other battlefields for them to die on. As Obama reportedly once said, it turns out he is good at killing people. (HERE )
When NATO lowered its flag in December, Obama had little to say. He took a few minutes out from his Hawaii Christmas vacation to casually drop in on some troops. His words sounded hollow:
"Tomorrow, we will mark an important milestone in our country's history: After more than 13 years of war, our combat mission in Afghanistan is coming to a responsible end." (HERE)
It seems that only the New York Times still believes Obama's speeches. Their headline screamed: "U.S. and NATO Formally End War in Afghanistan." Not so fast. The US plans on leaving at least 10,000 pairs of US boots on the ground, more boots in the sky and plenty of US paid mercenaries. And the US will be doing combat missions, despite Obama's earlier promise that they would just be doing training and advising. If there is anything we should have learned about Obama it is to remain flexible on what he says.
A good indication of how badly the war in Afghanistan has gone in the past 13 years is that there was no big celebration in downtown Kabul. For security reasons the time and place of the flag-lowering ceremony was kept secret. Maybe that is why President Obama chose to give his "victory" speech at the 19th hole in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
Now that the war in Afghanistan is sort-of over, but not really over, it might be a good time to reflect back on how the US got into the Afghanistan War.
One myth about the war in Afghanistan is that the Taliban was responsible for the attacks on the US of September 11, 2001. No. The US did not accuse the Taliban of 9-11. The US did accuse al-Qaeda and its leader Osama bin Laden with responsibility for 9-11, but not the Taliban.
The gripe the US said it had against the Taliban was that the US demanded that the Taliban turn over Osama bin Laden and they refused. As the de facto, if unrecognized government of Afghanistan, the US blamed the Taliban for harboring Osama bin Laden.
The Taliban did imply that it would turn Osama over to the US, if the US provided them with proof that he was responsible for 9-11. According to the Los Angeles Times of September 22, 2001, the Taliban said:
"If there is no evidence and proof, we're not prepared to give up Osama bin Laden."(HERE)
The US refused to provide proof that Osama bin Laden was responsible for 9-11, with Bush saying:
"There's no need to discuss innocence or guilt. We know he's guilty." (HERE)