I told my sixth grade teacher post-9/11 that, given historical Soviet and British failures there, I’d probably end up going to Afghanistan myself when I was older. She stared at me and said, “Well I certainly hope not.”

Twelve years later as a Marine I did in fact deploy to Afghanistan. Eight years after that, we are finally leaving.

It’s literally the longest war in American history. I don’t think that fact is said enough or appreciated enough. The Revolutionary War, the Civil War, either of the World Wars, the Korean War, or even the Vietnam War or the Iraq War: not a single one has lasted longer than Afghanistan. There just hasn’t been a coherent, actionable strategy for a long time: if one ever existed.

It could have absolutely been handled better, but we’re just ripping off the band-aid. Staying longer would have simply meant that a different president suffers the ridicule of partisan, otherwise uninterested actors.

They had the numbers, they had the weapons, they had the technology, and they had the training — and they still fell in no time at all. It was a total structural failure.

We couldn’t have stayed there forever. They had to take charge of their own country eventually, or risk losing it. We now know how that test went.

If you’ll be mad, be mad at who and what put us into this situation to begin with: who put our friends into this situation. Multiple tears have already been shed for the mere kids in uniform I trained who don’t get to escape this news from the safety of a Macbook. Yet here I am escaped to that very safety.



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Christopher Sharp

This effort has evolved to primarily be for clearly communicating technical subject matter to the public: largely my two passions astrophysics and space travel.