Readers write: America's exit from Afghanistan

Letter to the editor for the October 4, 2021 weekly magazine. A reader discusses the desire to place blame following the fall of Kabul. 

Staff

Processing defeat

In response to the Sept. 6 article “Vets see many US failures in Kabul. Military intelligence is just one,” it’s clear that America’s head is hanging low. While many Americans seethe in anger at what they perceive as ineptness on the part of President Joe Biden, there are millions of us simply sad and perplexed that we find Americans and our Afghan allies in a quagmire of such dire circumstances.

No president would risk his or her political future on an operation that had “failure” written all over it. Clearly, the rapidity and relative ease with which the Taliban marched into Kabul and took over the whole city, including the presidential palace, with nary a shot fired, took the world by surprise. Chaos ensued. How could it not? And America’s credibility hangs in the balance. 

As a veteran, I will assure all of you: Military personnel are not trained for defeat. We have a belief that we have the strongest, best equipped forces in the world, and we always feel invincible. We are trained to win. To think we lost to the Taliban, even though we can argue it was not entirely up to us, causes a collective depression which has probably already morphed into a deep-seated anger in the hearts and minds of many veterans and active-duty soldiers, airmen and women, and sailors. Yet we must still rely on the leadership, those in command, the president, to save the day, and to save face.

We cannot discount the devastating tsunami we face if we cannot get Americans and Afghans out of the country. If we want democracy in this country – already threatened, already with huge cracks and tears in its very fabric – the president, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the secretary of state, all commanders everywhere, must focus on this one objective: Get everyone out of Afghanistan, coûte que coûte (at all costs).

In the meantime, we watch, listen, pay attention, and whenever possible, remind the finger-pointers that no one, especially President Biden, would have made his decision at the time he made it, had he known the country would simply fold and allow the Taliban to take over in 11 days. Need I add that our military would never have allowed it? Finally, for the faithful, prayers won’t hurt either.

Vicki Bliss
San Pedro, California

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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