Afghanistan reflections

1. We lost, so get over it. The media pundits can Monday morning quarterback the Afghan War all they want, but we had a flawed series of nation-building strategies for 20 years. We wanted it more than many of the Afghans did, and in the end we failed badly.

2. This is not the end of the threat from transnational Islamic terrorism. This is a war that cannot be ended by recognizing the Taliban, al Qaeda or ISIS-K. We can, and maybe should, have some manner of dialogue with them, but we don’t have to like them; and we should not hesitate to kill them when required.

3. Celebrate a great generation. Eight-hundred thousand young Americans and millions of their family members made a massive sacrifice in the war on terror in Afghanistan. Thank those veterans and those family members. The time to thank or help a vet is not when the band is playing at the Fourth of July parade. It’s in the dark of night when you hear that phone ring or when you just see that look during a chance encounter on the street.

4. Afghan refugees should be welcomed. Many were the best and most loyal allies we could ever hope for. My hope is that all those individuals and their families are able to eventually resettle in the United States. Especially the most at risk: empowered women, LGTBQ + persons, religious minorities, etc. My hope also is that we, as the Aspen community, are welcoming to these refugees. As a community we are rich beyond the rest of the world’s dreams. Let’s show some authentic concern and caring and make room in our community for these others who dared to dream big.

Jeremie Oates

US Army Special Forces (Retired)

Afghanistan veteran