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An open letter to President Biden

By Dr. J. Lyle Story

The events that occurred the last weeks have been tragic with far-reaching consequences. Your decision was rash, incompetent and ill-informed. How could you not consider the deadly consequences? To me, it underscores incompetence, tragedy, an inability to think about the real consequences, denials, shifting of blame, bordering treason (giving names to the Taliban so that they would be on a hit list), betrayal of the public trust and military service members, shame, devaluing of our military, American citizens, and Afghan people who have been supportive of the American military. Lies lead to further lies to cover an original lie. This is an earthquake of seismic proportions, not only to Americans but foreign governments, both our allies and enemies — not simply an erosion. What about Afghanistan women and girls, who now will be subject to execution and torture under Sharia law? Their hopes are dashed into oblivion.

Currently, I cannot say President Biden and commander-in-chief in one sentence. I grew up in Beirut, Lebanon, and am familiar with Middle Eastern culture. I was never supportive of nation-rebuilding, for I saw this as American arrogance in thinking that our imposition of American democracy on tribal cultures over thousands of years would ever work.

However, with the withdrawal, Afghanistan is a safe haven for any number of training camps and planning for terrorism from several Islamic groups. What did you really think would happen? I am neither a politician nor a military person, but it was easy for me to predict what would actually happen.

I am a graduate school professor and I instruct so many military learners in my classes — many are now retired vets. Today, I had a conversation with one of my adult learners, who completed 600 combat missions in the Middle East in the Delta force, including Iraq and Afghanistan, suffering traumatic brain injury and PTSD. He is enraged, disgusted, degraded and filled with shame for what you have done. Your decision is not only an insulting slap in the face but a kick to his gut. I understand and feel his rage. I also have a son who was an officer with charge over a platoon of Humvees, who daily drove through the danger zones in Baghdad. Over Labor Day, we talked about his feelings.

When I was in junior high, our family came on a ship from Beirut, Lebanon, to New York City. I well remember my tears of joy, pride, and patriotism that streamed down my face when I saw the Statue of Liberty. But now, that image is tarnished.

In addition, I am deeply alarmed about our culture and further division in an already polarized country, particularly with principles of CRT training for teachers, even as a “litmus-test” for applicants for teaching positions. These principles will be taught to our children. Yes, I have always abhorred racism and feel a corporate shame for racism against Blacks and subsequent segregation, and the Jim Crow laws. But now, the CRT indoctrination imposes another form of racism that pit Black and white children against each other. The CRT principles counter the commitment and message of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with his mission and plea to evaluate and respect people for their character and not the color of their skin. What happened to this?

I saw that you took responsibility for the Afghan decision, but this is not enough; it’s simply political and impersonal. Acknowledgment needs to follow, with you asking forgiveness from the American people and our military for such rash and unconscionable decisions; you owe this to the American people, including the military. These events and decisions counter American values. Healing and reconciliation, not further polarization, should be the mantra of this administration. When you assumed office, you vowed to be committed to the unity and security of our country — now, a hollow vow, including the irresponsible decisions and mixed-messages for the southern border.

Trust is the very currency of leadership. Trust is delicate, for it is forged over time but quickly melts in a split second. For so many American citizens, trust has been decimated and for others, it is impossible to be renewed.

Dr. J. Lyle Story, a Suffolk resident, has taught graduate learners for 42 years, authored books, chapters in books, and numerous professional and academic journal articles. He enjoys life in Suffolk with his wife and fishing for largemouth bass in the Suffolk lakes. Contact him at storylyle2@gmail.com.