The Naked Truth/Jamala Rogers

Jamala RogersColor

What’s Left Behind in the U.S. — Afghanistan Tragedy


Most people I know don’t know the Taliban from ISIS or from Al-Qaeda. What they do understand is the heartbreaking images of desperate people literally hanging on to ascending American military planes in their hasty retreat from Afghanistan. They understand the images of deserted military aircraft and sophisticated weapons of mass destruction left behind to be swooped up by occupying forces on the ground.

With this 20-year war, we have little to show for our sacrifice except dead loved ones, broken soldiers and empty pockets. It’s time for people in the U.S. to be more aware of what’s being done in our name and how our hard-earned tax dollars are being spent.

Let’s start with the people-killing weaponry. The U.S. has provided an estimated $83 billion worth of training and equipment to Afghan security forces since 2001. This year alone, the U.S. provided $3 billion military aid to Afghan forces. Only a month ago, the U.S. delivered seven helicopters to the Afghani government. Blackhawks cost about $20 million each.

It’s challenging to track the military equipment left behind in Afghanistan. Some reports have exposed a treasure trove of weaponry left behind: 600,000 assault rifles, 2,000 armored vehicles, 40 aircraft including Black Hawks, 600,000 infantry weapons including M16 assault rifles, 16,000 night-vision goggles, 7,035 machine guns, 4,702 Humvees, 1,394 grenade launchers and 162,000 pieces of communication equipment — for starters.

This has been a messy situation from Day One so there was no reason to expect a clean and safe departure. The role of the U.S. military in Afghanistan has been self-serving and complicit with a changing enemy. Most of the history and reason why the U.S. invades other countries is foggy in the heads of Americans.

A brief snapshot has the Soviet Union invading Afghanistan in 1979 to side with the Afghans fighting the mujahedeen. After ten brutal years of fighting, at the cost of millions of lives and billions of dollars, the Soviet Union left a shattered country and an opening for the Taliban to seize control. The Soviet defeat was helped along by the CIA covert operations which secretly sent billions of dollars in military aid to the mujahedeen. This was sanctioned by then President Ronald Reagan who we also know had his hand deep into the Iran-Contra scandal.

Many foreign affairs scholars have blamed the rise of terrorism on the actions of the U.S. government. With split offs going in many directions with different goals, the U.S. can’t possibly keep up with the little monsters it has created. The so-called war against terrorism is looking like the so-called war against drugs.

Our congress people are co-conspirators to these situations because they have to approve military actions and funding. The funding is facilitated by powerful lobbyists from the defense industry. Everyone is getting their share of our tax dollars turned-blood money.

Americans get fed diets of fear about non-white peoples around the world. Working class people have a lot going on in our lives, especially with COVID hovering over us. This is exactly why we must know where our money is going. Just think how the $4 trillion squandered in Afghanistan could’ve helped ease the pain and suffering of this pandemic.

The United States must be accountable for its plunder of natural resources in other countries and for its role in toppling democratically-elected governments. Because of the internet and dogged investigative reporters, it’s become harder and harder for our country to hide its devilish deeds. We who believe in freedom must always analyze what’s left behind and take responsibility for our part. Let’s stop repeating the ugly parts of our history and make a clear distinction between us and our government. If not, the price to be paid will not necessarily be different.