Now the truth begins to emerge

Reflecting on the strategic importance of U.S. air power in Iraq, which also held true for Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Dave Deptula of the United States Air Force, nailed the argument in a 2014 Washington Post article. Deptula, who orchestrated and led previous air campaigns over Iraq and Afghanistan, and is now the Dean of the Mitchell Institute of Aerospace Power Studies said, “Militarily, we can do just about anything we want,” before addressing the crux: “The question is, to what end?”

In answering the question “to what end” – never, ever underestimate the Left’s ability to walk away from strategic moral choices. On April 14, 1975, the Democrat-held Congress severed all aid to South Vietnam, and Saigon fell just sixteen days later – with different political leadership, that debacle could have been avoided. However, even in those days, the media machine went to great lengths to sanitize the story, and ignored the tragic suffering and death that followed.

Fast forward to the utter collapse of Afghanistan last year, in which the blame is solely on the Biden administration’s executive department. And again, the media quickly put that military disaster in the symbolic rear-view mirror.

The commanding general of CENTCOM, a Marine no less, ignored the history of the Corps captured by Guadalcanal Diary and Sands of Iwo Jima in which many, many, infantrymen were killed in securing tactical and strategic airfields. His guidance to quietly desert his post in the dark of night from a significant strategic asset will be duly recorded in the opening chapter of one of the nastiest and most shameful defeats in American history. According to Afghan military officials:

The U.S. left Afghanistan’s Bagram Airfield after nearly 20 years by shutting off the electricity and slipping away in the night without notifying the base’s new Afghan commander, who discovered the Americans’ departure more than two hours after they left….

Military decisions made during those fateful days will be studied for decades. However, in protecting executive department ineptitude, probably because of watchful Democrats in power, some things are still a mystery: The fates of abandoned Americans, for the most part, remain  ignored in our national political debate.

The conflict in Vietnam exhibited those same blinders. However, the truth eventually comes out albeit often in artistic form on the Silver Screen. Sadly though, it will likely take time for Hollywood to capture the essential, and bitter truths of the human cost of the botched Afghanistan withdrawal.  

It took four years after the fall of Saigon before the 1960s post-war era phrase “don’t blame the warrior for the war” began to lose its sway, when British/American movie The Deer Hunter won Best Picture. The profound effect of the movie empowered American combat veterans to begin the process of building the artistically powerful Vietnam Memorial on our nation’s Mall.

A few years after The Deer Hunter, Hollywood produced another weighty movie. Premiering in 1984, The Killing Fields showed the horrific, genocidal rampage in Cambodia, where the Khmer Rouge murdered 25% of the population.

Consequently, if the media and journalists continue to ignore the ongoing horror and unbelievable fear of those we left behind in Afghanistan, sensitive artists may lead the way. One such brilliant harbinger of truth, Jeannine Gibson, addresses the unfinished tragedy in her recent work, “Outside the Gate”:

Left behind

Not a friend to rely on nor to find

For twenty years we fought side by side 

To help keep the flame of freedom alive,

You gave up, gave in and gifted our mortal

enemy with storehouses full of murderous machinery.  

They’ve plundered it all

Made us kowtow and fall

Jubilant dancers roam blood-stained streets

celebrating their victory and our shameful 

departure of defeat.

You turned out the lights

Slipped away in the middle of the night

Up and walked away

Without a parting punch or fight.

“Too tired,” you say 

We just don’t care enough to stay

a few days more

To make sure we return to loving arms

or new welcoming shores.

We are left standing at 

outside the gate

While you fly up and away

To live another day

Too late.

So we and all the world will wait

For the harbingers of hate 

To seal our shared fate.

Image: United States Army, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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