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The Public Pulse: Strong reactions to the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan

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Omaha connection

In 2018, my daughter and I began volunteering with a refugee resettlement organization. We received training to fellowship and teach English to a newly arrived family of five from Kabul, Afghanistan. During our preparation, we learned that violence and death threats were aimed at this young family at home because of the father’s help and support for the U.S. military. He provided transportation, information and translation for our troops. For his brave service and for his family’s protection, they were granted special immigration visas to our country.

In the beginning, it seemed like we would have very little in common with them. We speak English. They speak Dari. We are Christian. They are Muslim. We are from the Midwest. They are from the Middle East. However, over time, we discovered we shared many things in common including a deep devotion to our families, a strong faith in God, and a love of good food and laughter. We even had the great pleasure of helping them welcome the birth of their first son. We loved them, and they loved us.

As we watch what is currently unfolding in Afghanistan, we are heartbroken for the many other good families like our friends who are currently being threatened with violence and death. How can we leave them in such a precarious position?

We should have the moral courage to put aside politics and timelines in favor of protecting these brave, vulnerable people where they live and quickly get them out of harm’s way.

Emily Glasgow, Omaha

Biden debacle

President Biden’s careless abandonment of our allies in Afghanistan has humiliated the U.S. on the world stage; our southern border is swarming with more illegal aliens than have been seen in over 20 years; some aliens are allowed in the country without COVID tests, while Biden wants grade schoolers masked with little scientific justification; inflation is climbing rapidly; our national debt is reaching unsustainable levels; and crime is out of control in major cities all across the country.

That is after eight months in office. I wonder what he will do next?

Wade Winingham, Omaha

Afghanistan, Vietnam

Like most Americans of 1962, I accepted the American government’s explanation as to why our troops fought in Vietnam. I didn’t admire actress Jane Fonda’s interaction with the North Vietnamese, but after losing three remarkable students to that combat, I began to wonder whether her actions might have hastened the end and later thought that if even one U.S. serviceman or woman lived on because of her actions, it was probably worth the damage to my national pride.

Today, I’m not pleased by the ignominious way we seem to be leaving Afghanistan, but then, I think that maybe our exit might save the life of another American serviceman or woman. Not to mention the lives of some Afghans, many of whom may love their country as much as we do ours. The Vietnam War, with the many lies perpetrated by our leaders and press, destroyed my belief in the axiom “My country, right or wrong” and gave new credence to the protesters’ slogan “My mother, drunk or sober.”

Dan M. Sullivan, Omaha

Will we learn?

We must look into the mirror and see the self-deception and pride that led to this sorry pass. Kabul’s quandary brings to mind the crumbling of the Saigon government prior to its fall in 1975, but it is taking place much, much faster. In both cases, we supported regimes rotten with corruption that served no one but themselves, while our leaders deluded themselves and us into thinking that we were building a modern democratic nation state with our blood and treasure. In both cases, the phantasm evaporated before the onslaught of a determined and united foe.

In the case of Vietnam, we were fighting both nationalism and ideology. At present, the Taliban are strongly united by fundamentalist Wahhabi Islam exported by Saudi Arabia and Pashtun tribal loyalty. I only allude to the debacle that unfolded after our duplicitous invasion of Iraq, “the worst disaster in U.S. foreign policy,” according to Madeleine Albright.

Will we ever learn? Can we ever learn?

Peter Gadzinski, Omaha

Time to leave

Republicans are criticizing Biden for the messy ending of the war in Afghanistan, but they will criticize everything he does. According to the Washington Post, U.S. officials deliberately misled the public about how training of the Afghan army was going. According to author Craig Whitlock, who wrote “The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War,” most of the recruits were illiterate, and had no desire to defend their country.

U.S. troops couldn’t stay there forever on what was essentially an impossible occupation, just like Iraq. Twenty years and billions of dollars later, Biden was right to get the U.S. out. It was always going to end this way.

As I look at the pictures of Afghans trying to climb aboard departing planes, clinging to the sides and running to get in front of the planes, I noticed one thing that was curious: They were all men. The men were abandoning their wives and children to the Taliban rather than stay and defend them. That tells me all I need to know, that Afghans will never stand up and defend themselves, but they will let others do it for them.

Are you still criticizing Biden?

Valerie Bender, Lincoln

Much blame

Just as Johnson and Nixon share the blame for America’s failure in Vietnam, so too Trump and Biden share the blame for Afghanistan. Nice to see our politicians can work together.

Robert Hathaway, Omaha

Bush’s failure

Before everyone piles on President Biden and blames him for the results of the last 20 years in Afghanistan, let’s remember it was President George W. Bush who invaded Afghanistan then diverted troops and resources to Iraq. If he would have stuck to the mission of stopping Al-Qaida, who was responsible for 9/11, then brought troops home, we would have avoided 19 years in Afghanistan and in Iraq.

It is an awful tragedy that lives and suffering in all three countries plus destabilization in the region and the rise of ISIS have resulted from these decisions made back in Bush’s two terms. Talk about being handed a mess.

Karen Guilfoyle, Omaha

Confusing proposal

Relieved as I am at the University of Nebraska Board Of Regents’ rejection of the critical race theory resolution by Jim Pillen, a regent and gubernatorial hopeful, I am still trying to tease out the meaning of the resolution as described by Pillen. Was he proposing an opt out for certain lectures, a speech ban for professors, for students, or what? Pillen’s strained explanation sounds a bit like the accused in a shooting case defending himself by saying he was not aiming at the victim but only at the victim’s shirt.

It is time to cut the hysteria and let the university do its work. Nebraskans might start enjoying rather than fearing reasoned discussions of ideas.

Patricia Zieg, Omaha

Need for masks

To parents who don’t want their children to wear masks in school (not during lunch time or recess): These parents are supposed to protect their kids. I heard these parents on TV from the OPS meeting stating the parents would make their own decisions and how much damage psychologically/physically mask wearing would do to their kids in 20 years. We are fully vaccinated and have not stopped wearing a mask. We want to protect these kids who are not vaccinated.

I just wonder if these parents who don’t want their kids wearing masks in school are the same parents who let their kids wear masks on Halloween night running up and down the streets screaming. Just think of the psychological damage that does.

Barbara Krzemien, La Vista

Masks, abortion

To Roger Brodersen’s contradiction (Aug. 14 Pulse):

Here’s one for you: People who want masks and vaccinations to save lives and support abortion which had eliminated an entire generation!

Karen Hiles, Omaha

China threat

It should come as no surprise that China is building hundreds of ICBM silos (all aimed at the U.S.). The thug regime that runs the most populous and soon to be the No. 1 economy in the world has made no secret of its contempt for our country and its utter disregard for everything that we value. China is a criminal entity and like all such prior dictatorships, it will seek to threaten and bully all enemies/rivals (perceived as well as real) in order to secure its goals.

The U.S. must take all necessary measures to protect itself and its allies in the region from such predatory designs, or face the grim prospect of being at the mercy of this gangster state.

John Brodston, Omaha


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