It was a pleasant day, sun shining in the sky, a group of American and NATO troops doing their jobs at the Kabul airport when an Afghan pilot changed their lives. He had been in the Afghan air force for over twenty years, he was considered an excellent member of the armed forces, but something made him angry. He took an automatic weapon, pointed it at the American and NATO soldiers and began blasting away. Within moments eight young men lay dead and the pilot himself was killed. No one knows why he fired at his “allies,” no one knows what he became upset, and, most probably no one will ever know.
The Taliban claim he was a member of their group. Perhaps, this is true. Perhaps not. The real issue is why are there repeated such examples in which members of the Afghan armed forces kill American and NATO soldiers? The only logical answer is the lack of a sense of purpose and belief in their own government. If one believes in country, if one believes their country is at risk, then a sense of patriotism develops and a desire to sacrifice for the people of the nation. Few people in Afghanistan believe their government represents them, few trust government officials, and few regard themselves as “Afghans.”
The reality is American troops are fighting in a land that lacks a government which can gain the trust and respect of its own people. We experienced this same situation during the Vietnam war forty years ago. At that time, Senator Aikens of Vermont said, why not just declare victory and get the heck out of Vietnam. Perhaps, it is time to declare victory and leave.