Opinion | The war in Afghanistan will end as it began: in the blood

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Like the US military today, the British found themselves stranded geographically and obtained conditions of withdrawal of their opponents, but when their column – some 16,500 soldiers and camp supporters – left the gates of Kabul for Jalalabad, the Afghans descended, slaughtering all but one: an army surgeon, William Brydon. When Dr. Brydon – the original Lonely survivor – arrived on horseback at the gates of Jalalabad, near death himself, part of his skull sheared off, a sentry asked him where the army was, to which he replied: “I am the army”.

Although the Soviet army avoided this fate a century later, the regime it left behind did not fare much better. Mohammad Najibullah, an infamous torturer and former head of the Afghan intelligence service, the KHAD, as well as a KGB agent, had been installed by the Soviets as president and were able to hold power for more than two years after their departure. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, his financial support for his regime evaporated. Mr. Najibullah was quickly dropped off and eventually found himself at the end of the rope of a Taliban executioner when they took control of Kabul. Which begs the question of how long the United States will continue to support the government of President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan after our withdrawal. One year? Of them? Three? What is the “decent interval, “ to borrow Nixon’s phrase from our calamitous withdrawal from Vietnam?

As Jack and I ran, we discussed this story and other complex aspects of the US withdrawal: how many senior Afghan government leaders were dual nationals and would likely leave the country, leaving behind less able subordinates to occupy positions. critical positions; the challenges of collapsing more distant outposts; and if the State Department would grant visas to those Afghans who had cast their spell with their government and us.

Jack concluded, “America may be done with Afghanistan, but Afghanistan is not done with America.” According to him, my lunch at the Ambassador’s residence would not mark the end of the war at all. Not for me. Not for anyone.

Credit…Lexey Swall for The New York Times

After finishing her call, the ambassador apologized for being so careless. She admitted that she had an item on the agenda that we had not been able to discuss. She wanted advice because she was considering writing a book. Like those of the millions of Afghan girls we are currently abandoning, her story is marked by war and the overcoming of an oppressive version of Islam defended by the Taliban, a personal journey that leads to a final chapter. in which she is named as the first Afghan Ambassador to the United States. I advised her to take notes and told her that she might not be ready to write this final chapter yet. Because she may not be remembered above all for having been the first ambassador of her government, but rather for having been, as far as America is concerned, her last.

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