Sunday, August 15, 2021

Cry "Havoc!" and let slip the dogs of war

News sources report that the Taliban entered Kabul this morning, that the U.S. Embassy staff is burning sensitive documents on the roof and that additional U.S. troops are headed for Afghanistan to aid in evacuation. Sound familiar? Well, perhaps not --- unless you're as old and grouchy as I am.

I've been trying to remember if I designed and edited this front page from Oct. 8, 2001, one among countless others worldwide in newspapers large and small that marked the beginning of this 20-year debacle. That was what I did professionally for many years, but too many lines of type have passed under the bridge and I can't say for sure.

Since then, some 7,000 U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan and Iraq --- a relatively small number when compared to the hundreds of thousands of deaths among allied forces, civilians and enemy forces. But still notable when you consider the fact they died for no particular reason, as did the 50,000 or so who perished during "my" war, Vietnam.

I thought often of Vietnam over the years while playing a small part in reporting on our various wars in that part of the world --- most notably during 2003 when the U.S., having declared victory in Afghanistan, led an invasion of Iraq, justifying it with false intelligence reports.

There's bound to be a good deal of pontificating in the days that follow, but I liked this piece in today's The Washington Post: "From hubris to humiliation: America’s warrior class contends with the abject failure of its Afghanistan project."

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