We should honor and remember all of the Americans who died in the 9/11 attacks, all of the servicemen and women who gave their lives in Afghanistan, and also all the many innocent civilians who were killed by one side or the other in Afghanistan.
The USA response to 9/11 did more to damage the USA and its interests than the 9/11 attacks did.
You cannot bomb a people into loving you.
You cannot bomb a tribal civilization into a democracy.
“Money can’t buy will. You cannot purchase leadership” -said by John Kirby, chief spokesman for Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. And you can’t bribe dishonest military personnel into being honest.
No force has ever successfully invaded Afghanistan. Not Alexander the Great, not England (which tried three times), not Russia, not the USA.
No country can “win” an insurgency war without resorting to terrible cruelty – cruelty at a level that would today be exposed as intolerable given current abilities to document and disseminate information about atrocities in near-real-time. The last time an insurgency war was “won” might have been the USA occupation of the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century. And it was won through terrible, terrible cruelty.
The twin towers and the Pentagon were attacked – according to Al-Qaeda – because they both represented and were control centers of American imperialism. Without excusing the attack in any way, USA actions in the Mideast since 9/11/2001 have reinforced the image of Imperialist America more than supporting the image of America the home of the free, the land of the brave, and an example of democracy in action.
The USA has contributed to the support of Al-Qaeda through its errors in Afghanistan. For example, seethe book “10 Tage im ’Islamischen Staat’” by German journalist Jürgen Todenhöfer. The first ISIS fighter he met in Afghanistan was fighting against the USA because USA soldiers burst into his home and shot his mother to death, in front of him, in her own kitchen. Holding a spoon. Because of an address error on the part of the Americans.
If the United States wants to make the world better, let’s start by demonstrating democratic principles at home. And if we feel obligated to invade a country to better it, start with the worst countries in the world – which might have led to the USA invading Somalia, but definitely NOT Afghanistan nor Iraq.
The big winner in all of this is China, which is the most important superpower to never have invaded Afghanistan and which shares a border with Afghanistan. The big loser is the United States, which squandered the lives of many servicemen and servicewomen, trillions of dollars, and international respect because it pursued a war based on old grudges and lies, without an actual military goal, and thus doomed this war to be a failure from the start.