The Fall Of Afghanistan

15 August, 2021

This is not a post about politics, foreign policy, military strategy, or unwinnable wars.

It is about humans and the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Afghanistan.

I'm not doing so well.

The images coming out of Afghanistan are sending my nervous system into anticipatory PTSD and anticipatory grief. For that which is yet to come.

In the few years leading up to the withdrawal of US troops out of Vietnam, some Vietnamese were able to leave the country. They had connections.

After US troop withdrawal, in the months leading up to the fall of Saigon, many Vietnamese were able to leave the country. They had connections, too, and were lucky.

During the fall of Saigon, those connected to the US and the South Vietnamese government and military got wind earlier and were part of the mad exodus, similar to what we are now seeing in Afghanistan. They were lucky.

Then came the Communist takeover. The food rations. The land re-distribution. The re-education camps. Disappearances of family members into the night. Executions.

The saying in Vietnam at the time was that if the street lamps could grow feet and walk out of Vietnam, they would.

Everyone wanted out.

Some of us walked through Cambodia, to Thailand's refugee camps. More of us left by boat. Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Hong Kong. A third of us died to get to Anywhere-But-Here-Where-There-Is-No-Future. We were lucky beyond belief.

I feel like I am watching the unfolding of another twenty year humanitarian crisis. History repeating itself. And I just can't stop crying.

US air transport leaving Kabul, Afghanistan, August 16 2021, with ~650 Afghani refuge-seekers

Vietnamese refuge-seekers crowded aboard the Military Sealift Command ship Pioneer Contender to be evacuated. April 23, 1975


Sign up with your email to receive news and updates.