An Anecdotal Account From Afghanistan
I was talking to a former US Army Officer whom I served with the other day. He had deployed to Afghanistan after I left the service, and he became friends with numerous interpreters and other civilians there. In fact, he still keeps up with them and has been in touch as much as possible during this time of chaos.
During our conversation, he related to me a story that one of his interpreters told him. This is purely anecdotal, there is no evidence, and therefore it is recommended to take its veracity with a grain of salt, but it does highlight the terror and danger now facing the women of Afghanistan and their victimization from it.
The interpreter related the following story:
While living in his village, the interpreter heard that the Taliban was on their way. He, along with many other villagers, immediately began packing what they could and attempted to get out of the village and to flee to Kabul. During the frantic scene, a family that he knew was apparently not going to be able to make it out in time (though I am not sure why), and he saw the daughter of that family (whom he knew well) yelling and screaming at her family to hurry up and to move.
It was at that point that the panic started as they heard the first shots of the Taliban's arrival. The interpreter states that he saw that young lady disappear into her home and the reappear on the top of the roof. It was there that she took her own life with the family's firearm rather than be captured by the Taliban.
Now, as I said, neither the officer nor I were there, neither one of us could tell you with any certainty that this story is even remotely true, but the storyline is in line with many anecdotes that service members have related to one another for the entirety of the 20 years that we have been in Afghanistan. Apparently it is not uncommon to see women take their own lives rather than face being married off to be forcibly raped, being burned with acid for going to school, and so many other horrible and cruel fates that await them.
So while I cannot say that this story is true, I can tell you that the spirit of this story is, and that it apparently is enough of a truth that women had been living in fear constantly of exactly what happened. They were terrified that we would abandon them.
And guess what, we did.
We're still in Germany and Japan 76 years later. We're still in Korea 68 years later. We're still, kinda, in Iraq, but not really, 6 years later. Yet now we have left Afghanistan wholly and completely to the mercy of the Taliban, and for what? No American has died there in 18 months. Why were we pulling out the small number of troops that we had left who were mainly logistical support and air support?
Heck, why did we not create another Ramstein Air Base or Kadena Air Force Base in Afghanistan and tell the Taliban that, "we are not going anywhere so you had better leave?"
That would have been a better choice, a right choice, but it would have taken moral courage. That's something that has been lacking in the White House since at least George W. Bush and honestly more likely since Reagan. Before that? You have to go back to J.F. Kennedy to find the type of GEOPOLITICAL moral clarity necessary to have made that move.
Kennedy was not a moral man, but we are not talking about personal morals at this point.
Instead we have sent a message back to Taiwan, Myanmar, Hong Kong, Iran, and others that they should not start a revolution unless they think they can win it without us, because we are only one election away from abandoning them.
As a father to two beautiful and intelligent daughters, I find myself morally ripped to shreds over this. On one hand I am unambiguously against suicide or euthanasia, but the reality that these women face is so horrific that I find myself understanding their decision, and I find that reality within myself to be repugnant, yet true.
If I am feeling that way being safe here in the US, how must those fathers be feeling over there looking at their daughters and knowing what fate awaits them? How will they remember our country in their history? How will they write about us? We will be the cowards who abandoned their daughters to the Taliban.
That is what will be said about us.
After watching that cowardice from the bully pulpit the other day, it would be hard to argue with them.
Unfortunately my brothers in arms and I will be painted with that same brush.
After all, he is the "Commander In Chief."
We do not deserve that, the Afghan people do not deserve this abandonment, and he, the President, does not deserve either one of us.
I have never been so embarrassed of my service before.