At 7:48 on a Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, airplanes from militaristic Japan appeared over the US naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, as well as over other military installations on the island of Oahu. In short order, the Japanese combination of bombing, torpedoes, and strafing essentially disabled or destroyed most of our military assets in the Asia/Pacific region. The Japanese had sunk or damaged all eight battleships of the Pacific Fleet, as well as damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, and a number of other ships.
In one of the most lopsided and humiliating defeats in US history, 188 of our aircraft were destroyed and 157 were damaged…mostly while still on the ground, because the surprise attack was so sudden, there was no time to get the craft off the tarmac. The attack killed 2,335 US servicemen and wounded 1,143 more, in addition to 68 civilians and 34 wounded. (source)
Whether “by chance” or by the Grace of God, however, our greatest naval assets that day were still at sea and thus out of harm’s way: the three aircraft carriers Enterprise, Lexington, and Saratoga. By surviving December 7 unscathed, those three “floating airbases” were immediately available to lead the bloody, four-year counter-attack to defeat Japan and liberate the occupied lands of China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Southeast Asia, etc.
In a catastrophic blunder, Japanese top-brass thought a debilitating blow to US forces at Pearl Harbor would terrify the American population to curl into a fetal position and beg for peace. However, the opposite happened. Americans, white-hot with righteous indignation, entered WWII with a steely resolve that held steady until the surrenders of the three Axis powers: Italy, Nazi Germany, and Japan.
To learn more about Pearl Harbor, its location, and key role in history, please read my blog post.
Next to the 1941 disaster at Pearl Harbor, which stemmed from our forces and intelligence services being woefully unprepared, a second military and diplomatic disaster is more recent. The August 2021 fall of Afghanistan back into the clutches of the Taliban.
Because of its location, history, and culture, Afghanistan is a complex nation that defies easy answers. Most Americans believe keeping US forces there and funneling in billions of dollars forever was not sustainable. However, the way we exited was an unmitigated military, political, diplomatic and humanitarian disaster. Reports are rife that the Biden administration was caught flat-footed. There were conversations going on in the White House about how to help our Afghan allies exit the country…as the Taliban was reaching the outskirts of the capital Kabul.
President Biden, as Commander in Chief, and our military leaders ordered our forces to abandon the huge, fenced, state-of-the-art Bagram Air Base 30 miles north of Kabul that we had spent 20 years and one billion dollars developing. Even worse, our forces left in the middle of the night…without bothering to tell our Afghan allies, making a smooth hand-over impossible. Instead, the base was unoccupied for a couple of hours–allowing local looters to enter–until the Afghan forces realized we had left and quickly entered.
By giving up Bagram, that meant our entire evacuation would have to be done at Hamid Karzai International Airport, a civilian facility inside urban Kabul. As predicted, that became a logistical nightmare. “No one in their right mind would have closed Bagram Air Base while leaving behind thousands of civilians,” Arkansas GOP senator and Afghanistan war veteran Tom Cotton wrote on Twitter.
Sadly, as we have observed these past two years, being in one’s “right mind” doesn’t seem to be a job requirement for the Biden administration.
While our forces struggled to oversee the chaotic withdrawal, 13 US servicemembers were killed by a bomber, making it the most deadly day for American forces in ten years.
While the disaster was unspooling in real-time, and the world saw horrific images of terrified Afghanis clinging to departing airplanes then falling hundreds of feet to their deaths, the White House cranked up their propaganda machine by portraying the disaster as “the biggest, most successful airlift in history.”
Let’s not forget the $7 billion-plus military hardware and weapons we left on the ground intact. President Trump was excoriated for his MAGA position, but with all the weapons and supplies we left behind, President Biden’s legacy might be “Make the Taliban Great Again.”
But the corruption doesn’t end there. Many of us wonder, “Why do so many politicians think they can lie with impunity and know there will never be any consequences?”
More and more of us, it seems, are realizing a huge part of the problem is our dishonest corporate media. Instead of fulfilling their true task of “speaking truth to power,” many have become voice boxes for the Democrat Party. Not long after the humiliating Afghan rout, the media focus returned to Covid, Hurricane Ida, and a Texas abortion law.
The Afghanistan debacle, and the fate of Americans stranded there not to mention all the Afghanis quickly faded from the headlines. Military errors were glossed over because the Pentagon was going “woke.”
Related to Virginia, Sen. Warner (D) is Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and Sen. Kaine (D), who for eighteen years lived on Richmond’s Confederate Avenue, is on the Armed Services Committee. This disaster happened on their watch. But did they ever take any responsibility for the failure? Did they resign from their committees or from the Senate? No. Instead, as I write, many are celebrating the Democrats building their Senate majority from 50 to 51. In much of America, it seems, failure is celebrated and rewarded.
Kabul fell to the Taliban on August 15, 2021.
The FBI made their controversial and unprecedented raid on Mar-a-Lago–the private residence of a former president–on August 8, 2022.
Maybe the timing is a complete coincidence, but when I saw that raid, one of my first thoughts was: “Is this a hoax to distract us from the one-year anniversary of the Afghan Collapse?”
The raid immediately captured headlines and I’m sure most in the media were thrilled to have one more reason to ignore that tragic and embarrassing anniversary.
And the recent midterm elections? How much did the Afghan disaster serve as a factor, or news story?
And Afghanistan today? While most Americans were enjoying our Thanksgiving weekend or doing shopping, the Taliban recently resumed their public floggings they used to do…before our forces drove them from power after 9-11-2001. The Taliban filled a soccer stadium with spectators while they flogged 12 for the “moral crimes” of adultery, robbery, and homosexual sex. After the beatings, some were released while others were sent off to prison.
The Pearl Harbor disaster enraged our nation and filled us with resolve. The Afghan disaster? Well, turn the page and move on….
For all the people who voted for Biden and Democrats because they thought that was their way to promote women’s rights and gay rights…think about Afghanistan and consider the legacy.
Learn more about Pearl Harbor and its importance here.