Talking, debating, and conversing with others who don’t share your political views may cause some consternation, but this practice has definite benefits. We all suffer from confirmation bias, preferring to ingest information that supports our opinions. A good healthy dose of another perspective forces you to reflect on what you think you know and how you understand your sources. Of course, you can’t have that kind of conversation with a dolt! You have to share some tenets so that there is a bridge on which to meet. In my case, that shared value is family support and generosity.
After one such conversation and some reflection, I came up with a laundry list of “what ifs?” as well as would-haves/should-haves.
What if President Obama had not publicly pronounced that the U.S. would pull out of Afghanistan in 2014, giving the Taliban the first sign that we would not stay forever?
What if we had pulled out of Afghanistan in 2014? Would we now face a larger ISIS and Al-Qaeda threat?
What if President Trump had not negotiated with the Taliban, without the presence of the “legitimate” Afghan government? Would the Taliban not have counted on the U.S. leaving soon? Would they have known the waiting game was almost over? Would the Afghan government’s officials not be negotiating every side deal they could in order to save their own butts, rather than their country’s?
What if President Biden’s intelligence sources had predicted more accurately how fast the government—already undermined and aware that our troops were leaving—would fall?
What if the U.S. military had not left its allies, the Afghan forces, the equipment they needed to stand off the Taliban, but instead had destroyed it before it could fall into the hands of the enemy? Which is the greater sin?
What would have happened if we had evacuated people from our military base instead of from the airport in Kabul?
The events of 9/11 so stunned the country that President Bush’s decision to invade Afghanistan would probably have been made, no matter who was in the White House. Successive governments have kept Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and the Taliban in check, albeit by spending a horrendous portion of the U.S. budget and generating huge profits for our military-industrial complex.
Maybe, just maybe, we should really raise taxes on the rich, who continue to get richer while our bridges collapse, our fight against climate change is hamstrung by a lack of funding and will, and Big Pharma grows bigger. It seems neither political party wants to tax the rich, so why not abandon Afghanistan instead and save three billion dollars a year?