I want to address our ungraceful exit from Afghanistan and the Sept. 9 Maine Voices op-ed commenting on this issue (“Twenty years after 9/11, ‘unthinkable’ looks a lot different”). I do this as an Army veteran, a retired physician and a war orphan whose father was killed by friendly fire during World War II.

But war is almost never a good solution to problems, should always be entered into with reasoned objectives, and should never be based solely on the emotion of anger. The Afghanistan war violated each of these conditions. The 9/11 attack was, among other reasons, based mainly on the hate that people of the Middle East feel toward the United States. Our decision to attack the source countries could only make the hate more intense and result in the deaths of many who had nothing to do with the attack. In addition, the war lost all reasonable justification following the death of Osama bin Laden.

We lost the war. The exit was shameful and poorly executed, but exits following lost wars almost always are. However, I believe that the decision to leave was courageous.

What an important but underappreciated lesson. On the next occasion when hate results in the deaths of thousands of innocent people, shouldn’t we pay more attention to the sources of the hate and not useless punishment that only serves to increase anger?

The Afghanistan war has revealed failures at many levels of our government. The decision to exit the country, though delayed, is not one of them.

David Scotton
Cape Elizabeth

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