Twenty years ago this Saturday, the world changed forever following an unthinkable act of terrorism. In the years since, an entire generation of kids born prior to the attacks have grown up in a country locked in a perpetual state of war. Some of those
Twenty years ago this Saturday, the world changed forever following an unthinkable act of terrorism.
In the years since, an entire generation of kids born prior to the attacks have grown up in a country locked in a perpetual state of war. Some of those same kids have gone off to fight in conflicts on foreign soil directly related to that momentous event that predates their birth.
Now that the United States occupation in Afghanistan has come to an end, so close to the 20th anniversary of the event that initiated our presence there, it conjures many difficult questions – with few answers – about the purpose of that conflict and the consequences it has wrought on millions of people.
The same extremist government that aided and abetted the terrorists who perpetrated the attacks are back in power, emboldened by their ability to outlast a multi-decade occupation and somehow come back stronger and more determined than ever to rule the area with a theocratic, iron fist which threatens the lives of women, religious minorities and anybody who assisted the allied invasion throughout the past 20 years.
We find it necessary to state that there is no defending the way in which the evacuation of Afghanistan occurred. It reflected a crucial lack of leadership and showed a blatant disregard for the well being of those who are now rightfully fearful for their lives under Taliban rule.
However, we must also call to attention the blatant hypocrisy of those who dare try to pretend that the debacle in Afghanistan is the result of one president, or one administration, and not a bipartisan failure from the beginning to adequately assess the situation and implement means by which to measure success – or what an acceptable end goal could even look like.
In the days and weeks and months following 9/11, America was united as one country and one people, justified in its anger and optimistic that not only would our democracy prevail, but that something positive could emerge from something so devastating.
We have forgotten that lesson today. It is a continuous national shame to see our people so consistently divided on issues that, 20 years ago, would not be even slightly politicized – like trusting medical professionals and scientific institutions, and neighbors considering neighbors their enemy based on what flag they fly on their lawn outside.
Popular culture depicts winners of wars often in concrete ways. Allies defeat the Axis; humanity triumphs against an invading force from outer space; superhero beats super villain. But 9/11 and the failure in Afghanistan should teach us once and for all that the true strength of America lies not only in our military might, but in the strength of our democratic system and the cohesion of our populace.
If the latter two of those forces continue to falter or eventually crumble, we will have failed to honor the memory of all those who were so horribly taken from us 20 years ago.