The heart-wrenching scenes that emerged from the Kabul Airport have been a tough pill to swallow for Americans as the hallmark of a war that spans 20 years.
The blood and treasure spent to win the first campaign in the War on Terror have left Americans divided, frustrated and confused over why exactly we stayed in Afghanistan.
One who has some thoughtful and rather provocative observations about this is Dave Galluch, U.S. Naval Academy graduate who served as an Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) officer in the Navy and was deployed to the Middle East and Somalia.
Galluch, now running for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 5th District, believes that what has happened in Afghanistan was entirely preventable and will escalate into a more precarious situation.
“All of these things were preventable mistakes,” he told The Conservative Digest. “And now we are now past an evacuation and we’re unfortunately more so in a hostage situation.”
Galluch noted that “there are tens of thousands of people with special visas and our Afghan partners that are outside the airport, and there are Taliban checkpoints that stand between them from the airport.”
The Taliban, he added, “is turning off the internet, turning off phones and the power. So we have thousands of isolated Americans held within an enemy-held city. And the Taliban has been known for slipping people into crowds disguised as citizens.”
After looking at how the United States has handled the withdrawal, Galluch concluded that we are strategically less safe than we were a few months ago.
“I don’t think you can argue that we are more safe today as a result of the pull out then we were before,” he told The Conservative Digest, “The Taliban controls more territory than it ever did. In the short term, the Taliban control with an environment conducive to extremist groups again.
“This is dangerous because they can target us abroad and at home. Also, a power vacuum in Afghanistan — that is close in proximity to Iran and China — allows them to exert their influence over Afghanistan to leverage whoever comes into power to their advantage — and our disadvantage.”
Galluch was also very critical of how President Joe Biden has handled the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.
In his words, “the actions of the President and the Democratic leaders have shown that we will not stand resolute in the face of threats and violence in the advance of a foe that means to do us harm, and that is the worst after-effects of this.
“Folks looking around who see China willing to go abroad and to challenge American power and its competitors also see an America that is backing away and retreating from pressure. That’s not to say we are going to fight a ‘forever war.’
“I understand the withdrawal,” said Galluch, “But the way it was executed and the way that we conduct operations and stand by our partners who fight along side us will create terrible consequences to us in terms of our international standing, reputation and trust of our allies.”
Galluch reiterated that the problem with U.S. foreign policy moving forward is going to be on shaky ground.
“I think that showing we were unwilling even to step in to provide air support to the Afghan army as we were conducting a withdrawal, shows that when the pressure is on, we will wait, we will waffle, and we will potentially make a deadly mistake,” he said.
The Navy veteran also pointed out that the U.S. mission in Afghanistan “showed what the limits of military power can be when trying to obtain political results. We need to be more deliberate when we put people into combat and put lives at risk.”
Speaking of the veterans’ community of which he is part, Galluch predicted that “heartbreak will remain with the veteran community and the country at large. This is certainly one of the worst foreign policy challenges in the last 5- years. When we see our partners holding onto landing gear of aircraft and falling from the sky there’s no real way to spin it except it’s extremely heartbreaking.”
Galluch believes that we need to remain undeterred as a nation and recommit ourselves to electing leaders who have courage to lead Americans troops and citizens through crises.
“I am a big believer that you earn hearts and minds through inspiration and leadership by stepping up to the plate and rising to the occasion,” he said, “This is a crisis and the fallout will continue to be a crisis, but the American people need to know that our best days are still ahead and the folks that are putting themselves forward to occupy those positions know that they are not going to shrink in these instances.
“Americans can’t lose hope and our military can’t lose hope in the fundamental promise of the country and the values that we have that my fellow brother and sister veterans ought for, and frankly a lot of Afghans fought for, too. So my message is simple: don’t lose hope.”
Michael Cozzi is a Ph.D candidate at Catholic University in Washington D.C.