After two decades of war, the US occupation of Afghanistan finally came to an end.
“As of Sunday afternoon, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had fled his nation,” NPR reported, “the Taliban were on the verge of once again running the country, and President Biden authorized sending in thousands of additional troops to try and safely extract U.S. diplomatic personnel and others out of Kabul.”
The shock was not that the US had finally left Afghanistan. It was how swiftly the Afghanistan army collapsed—and how ill-prepared the Biden Administration and military brass appeared to be for it—that left the world stunned.
“The fall of the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan to the Taliban happened faster than almost anyone in Washington — or Kabul — could have imagined,” NPR reported, noting that many were comparing the fall of Kabul to Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War.
The rapid collapse of the American-backed regime immediately after its US military props were withdrawn shows how little was accomplished in spite of all the American blood and treasure expended on the double-decade “nation building” project in Afghanistan.
The shocking development prompted decade-old comments from Ron Paul to resurface. The former Texas Congressman begrudgingly voted for the initial use of force in Afghanistan in 2001, but became perhaps the most vocal critic of the war during his presidential runs.
Many have not forgotten.
“‘Ron Paul’ became a trending topic on Twitter on Monday, with many writing ‘Ron Paul was right,’” Newsweek reports. “Some shared a speech Paul, who ran to be the Republican presidential candidate three times, made about Afghanistan in 2011 and in his 2012 farewell speech.”
Ron Paul was right about Afghanistan.— Jon Miltimore (@miltimore79) August 15, 2021
A lot of people who died would be alive today if more had listened.
It took 20 years but finally people are admitting Ron Paul was right on this issue.— Being Libertarian (@beinlibertarian) August 16, 2021
Hopefully they read “End The Fed” next. pic.twitter.com/HwlVMidSeZ
You love to see it.— ----Linear Trav---- (@3DNuts) August 16, 2021
Ron Paul was right. pic.twitter.com/Qu6r487ugS
Was Paul really right? Let’s take a quick look at one of his speeches, made on March 17, 2011.
After 10 long years, $336 billion spent, 1,500 American lives lost, and thousands maimed, it is time to bring our troops home. Our servicemen and -women and their coalition allies have performed valiantly. The United States has done everything possible to provide opportunity for the Afghanistan people and the chance for a democratic government there to mature and take hold. Afghanistan must now take responsibility for its own destiny.
The fact of the matter is this: If now is not the time to leave, then when? Afghanistan has become the longest war in U.S. history, with a price tag of $100 billion a year. At a time when we are contemplating cutting services for seniors, educational programs for children, and tuition assistance for working college students, that money could be spent more wisely elsewhere.
Mr. Speaker, too much of our country's treasure has gone toward this war. But more importantly, the cost in human life, American and Afghan, has been enormous. As the world's greatest democracy, what kind of message does this war send to other nations? Do as we say, not as we do?
It is time to make our actions reflect our words. Get out of Afghanistan now. The question we are facing today is, should we leave Afghanistan? I think the answer is very clear, and it's not complicated. Of course we should, as soon as we can. This suggests that we can leave by the end of the year. If we don't, we'll be there for another decade, would be my prediction.
The American people are now with us. A group of us here in the Congress, a bipartisan group, for nearly a decade have been talking about this, arguing not to expand the war, not to be over there, not to be in nation building. And the American people didn't pay much attention. Now they are. The large majority of the American people now say it's time to get out of Afghanistan. It's a fruitless venture. Too much has been lost. The chance of winning, since we don't even know what we are going to win, doesn't exist. So they are tired of it.
Financially, there's a good reason to come home as well.
Some argue we have to be there because if we leave under these circumstances we'll lose face; it will look embarrassing to leave. So how many more men and women have to die, how many more dollars have to be spent to save face? That is one of the worst arguments possible.
The swift collapse of Kabul and Ghani’s government reveal just how right Paul was in his predictions a decade ago. It’s difficult to even think about the number of lives and treasure lost in the last 10 years because so many refused to see what had become so obvious—but it’s a reality we cannot ignore.
If we do, Americans will fail to learn from the mistakes—constitutional, moral, and political— that led to the tragedy of the Afghanistan War.
And if that happens, it’s only a matter of time before we’ll find ourselves entangled in yet another conflict half a world away.