By Ken Stiles
We have all witnessed this botched evacuation at the hands of Joe Biden. The visuals are not for the faint of heart. One can’t help but ask why and how this happened.
I was the CIA’s lead targeter during the operation in response to the 9/11 attacks. I first arrived in Afghanistan in early January 2002 to work with our CIA teams, the US Military’s Special Forces, and the Afghan teams we formed to fight the Taliban and hunt down terrorists. My deployments continued throughout 2002 and 2003. I worked with every CIA team prior to their launch into Afghanistan.
None of these ‘military experts,’ nor ‘politicians,’ nor ‘pundits’ has ever talked to an everyday Afghan [some of these idiots use the term ‘Afghani’, which is the currency. NOTE: when someone says ‘Afghani’ you can start ignoring their pontificating]. These so called ‘leaders’ and ‘experts’ have only talked to corrupt Afghan politicians and inept, corrupt military leaders; or read misguided—if not totally politized—reports. On top of that the “great military minds” of our services lied about the competency of the Afghan security forces for years [read any of the SIGAR reports and the forthcoming Afghanistan Papers publication].
None had any ‘Ground Truth.’
Don’t even get me started about the Pentagon Press Secretary John ‘Baghdad Bob’ Kirby and his nonsensical dribble over the last week. Remember this, Jake Sullivan, the National Security Advisor, has done nothing except read books and write academic papers that no one has read.
The White House doesn’t know how many American citizens are in Afghanistan, nor where. They have informed those in country to make their way to the Kabul Airport; BUT CANNOT guarantee their safety while doing so. They are pleading with the Taliban to allow such travel—yeah, right. Just a week ago these idiots were advertising for a Public Engagement officer.
Talk about tone deaf to reality.
I came away from Afghanistan with one major impression. The average Afghan cares about three things: his family, his tribe, and his valley. No wonder so many military and police forces simply walked away. No Baluch is willing to die to defend Mazar-i-Sharif.
Some Afgans I met didn’t even know what Kabul was, much less Al Qaeda or 9/11.
The small, dedicated group of Afghans I worked with were prideful, dedicated, smart, and driven. However, they were the extreme minority and not nearly enough in numbers to keep the Taliban at bay and Afghans free.
The second mistake of our so-called political and military leaders is their belief that everyone in the world longs for—and can create—a democracy in our image. Gen. Milley, Secretary Austin, and our so-called Commander in Chief Joe Biden, as well as every leader before them, are fools to think everyone wants our form of government. Apparently, none have read Egyptian President Abdelfattah Said el Sisi’s 2006 US Army War College Thesis ‘Democracy in the Middle East’. Everyone should read this!
When I was in the middle of nowhere in Afghanistan, our commo guy, a great big African-American, came to me worried about the little kid who had been squatting, watching him for hours. ‘Jim’ said, “I don’t think this kid has blinked in four hours…. It’s kind of freaking me out.” I responded not to worry, saying “He’s never seen a computer, electricity, or for that matter–a Black Man.” We both nodded and laughed. That’s the real Afghanistan.
Fast forward to last week, I received a text message from my nephew as Kabul was in the throes of its panicked evacuation. He wrote, “[You’ve] been calling this for a very long time… and [you’ve] been retired for quite a while!!” Yeah, a blind man could have seen this coming, or anyone who had spent time in Afghanistan.
We went into Afghanistan to destroy Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda after the 9/11 attack. First, we helped many anti-Taliban war lords, tribal leaders, and the Northern Alliance topple the Taliban [accomplished by December 2001] when they did not honor President Bush’s request to turn over the Al Qaeda leader. We then decimated Al Qaeda in the country. That mission was accomplished by the spring of 2002.
Game over. We should have come home, but our vaunted policy makers decided to build a new nation-state within the made-up boundaries of Afghanistan–remember the Brits drew the lines on a map in London without ever having been there.
Will our great leaders read and learn from el Sisi’s thesis? Will they ever talk to normal, everyday locals in a far-off land before invading to bring them McDonalds and democracy? Probably not. Maybe the next group will if those who got us into, and kept us in, this most recent graveyard are held accountable and fired—because none have the integrity to resign.
Ken Stiles is a retired CIA officer and Counterterrorist Targeter in Afghanistan and currently a professor in the Hume Center for National Security and Technology at Virginia Tech. He is also a speaker for Young America’s Foundation.