There will be many books, studies, and congressional committee reports written, as well as endless reporting and media analyses, looking back on what happened in the month of August, 2021, related to the upheaval in Afghanistan. A Biblical Christian perspective will have many facets based on the need for grace and the reality of God’s will. In the midst of the chaos, there is perhaps one question that can be answered definitively. It is arguably the most important observation to come out of this horrific situation. As Afghanistan goes, so goes America.
Our entrance into Afghanistan was predicated on rooting out al-Qaeda, and in particular, Osama bin Laden. We completed that goal on May 2nd, 2011. For the next 10 years the US continued to provide significant military training, equipment, and support to the newly formed government of Afghanistan. Numbers vary, however, the US spent approximately $2.2 trillion of which $83 billion was directed at training 300,000 Afghan security forces.
On February 29, 2020 former president Trump announced the US departure of all forces by May 1st, 2021. In April, President Biden revised that timetable to September 11 and then revised it again to August 31, 2021.
Beginning in July of this year, the Taliban, with approximately 66,000 untrained and poorly equipped (initially) forces began taking over regional capital cities throughout Afghanistan. On August 15th, they secured the capital city, Kabul, with practically no shots fired.
Again, much will be said by those who make a living playing Monday-morning-quarterback regarding all the mistakes made in the methodology of the US departure. Regardless of our obvious mistakes, the truth is that no one expected the speed with which the Taliban captured the country. And, therein lies the most important observation that could come from this debacle.
Why did the well-funded, well-trained, and well-equipped Afghan military lay down their arms to a significantly inferior force, and what does that have to do with America and Biblical Christians?
The reason the Afghan army retreated against a weaker and poorly equipped Taliban forces had nothing to do with troop counts, training, or equipment. The Taliban had little more than rifles, no air force, no tanks, no drones, no command-and-control communications. The Afghan army had all that and much more. However, as the Taliban swept through the countryside, the Afghan army abandoned their sophisticated, US supplied war machines and ran.
Simply put, the Taliban were fighting for a unified cause. They trusted and respected their leaders. The Afghan army, made up of tribal mercenaries looking for a way to support their families, had no loyalty or trust toward the central government, no will to fight for a cause.
What the Taliban had that the Afghans did not was a will to fight for a cause. Both sides recognized that difference and both sides knew before the “battle” even started who was going to be the winner. Specifically,
- The government in Kabul was not respected by the soldiers. It was considered corrupt.
- The Afghan forces were not being adequately supplied with food, water, and their pay.
- The Afghan’s are historically tribal, not unified under a centralized government.
The Afghan army was not an army in the way America understands the term. The US provides a list of attributes that are intentionally pressed into every soldier. Those seven values are:
- Loyalty – Bear true faith and allegiance to the U.S. Constitution.
- Duty – Fulfill your obligations.
- Respect – Treat people as they should be treated.
- Selfless Service – Put the welfare of the nation, the Army and your subordinates before your own.
- Honor – Live up to Army values.
- Integrity – Do what’s right, legally and morally.
- Personal Courage – Face fear, danger, or adversity (physical or moral).
The Taliban, from their own religious perspective expressed each of the attributes as Sharia Muslims. As Biblical Christians, we can stand on our soapbox and challenge their views, especially related to Respect and Integrity. However, from their frame of reference, these are the attributes of a cohesive fighting force and was not the case for the demoralized and unpatriotic Afghan army.
Why is this Important for Us?
Today in this country we are undermining every single attribute listed above. In late June of this year, as the Taliban were moving rapidly throughout Afghanistan, General Milley, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was testifying before Congress, being challenged about his views on the importance of Critical Race Theory as he defended a need to “understand white rage” as part of military training.
Do we, as a nation, still believe in loyalty toward our Constitution or have we become tribal to our own narrow belief systems and causes? Do we feel a sense of duty to fulfill our obligations to protect America for the next generation? Do we respect and treat people as they should be treated, allowing for freedom of speech without condemnation? Are we willing to put the welfare of the nation before our own? Do we honor those who are protecting us from those who wish to destroy us as a nation? Do we do what is right, legal, and morally sound? Finally, do we face fear, danger, and adversity head on?
Consider the depth of our engagement in these attributes 20 years ago vs. today. Are these not Scripturally based values? As we continue headlong down the path of a post-Christian nation, we are losing the underpinnings that founded and prospered our nation.
- Loyalty – Titus 3:1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work,
- Duty – Ecclesiastes 12:13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
- Respect – Matthew 7:12 So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
- Self Service – Acts 2:44-45 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.
- Honor – Hebrews 13:18 Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things.
- Integrity – Proverbs 11:3 The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.
- Personal Courage – Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
How can we expect our military to continue with these values if we do not share them? What type of young people are we raising through our liberal educational system that will be the next protectors of our freedoms and way of life?
As Afghanistan goes, so goes America.