9/11 Redux And The Country’s Newest Forever Wars*

8 min readSep 11

Originally Posted September 11, 2021

Untitled, Pencil on Paper, 18" x 20", Richard J Van Wagoner, Courtesy of Van Wagoner Family Trust**

As inevitable waves of criticism pounded from every quarter, for both the withdrawal and how it was carried out, President Biden ended one of America’s forever wars. The President’s levies seem to be holding. The US carried out an historic airlift of over 122,000 Americans, vulnerable Afghans, and Special Immigrant Visa applicants. My son-in-law, who served a tour in Afghanistan as a US Army medic, refers to those invaluable Afghan interpreters as “terps.”

While the United States may have withdrawn, I have some assurance that the Afghanistan forever war continues to haunt its soldiers and their families. Among those who survived, the number of physically and mentally harmed and with permanent disabilities is astonishing. During his speech on the withdrawal from Afghanistan, President Biden repeated the disturbing statistic that every day a combined 18 US soldiers and veterans end their lives.

Do the math.

In a single year, that’s more than double the number of people killed on 9/11 and approaching triple the number of US soldiers killed during the 20 years in Afghanistan.

History will judge whether the Biden Administration made mistakes in planning and executing the withdrawal. Admittedly, it has considerable work left to do. Unfortunately, that work includes disarming and dismantling landmines Trump set to thwart the new administration from succeeding, including to prevent Afghans who provided vital aid to the US military from immigrating to and assimilating in the United States. In the minds of Trump and Steven Miller, they are the wrong kind — and color — of religious extremists. They’d probably even vote for Democrats if they had the chance.

We don’t know the outcome of different decisions, ones President Biden didn’t make. With past as prologue, however, Mr. Trump’s record — disastrous incompetence, dishonesty, destruction and death, self-absorption, and consorting with demagogues, authoritarians, and even enemies of the United States — should reasonably assure every fair-minded person that the Afghanistan withdrawal was a finely tuned, well-oiled machine compared to what it would have been under Trump. And under Trump, into the millions more Americans would be dead from…


Exercising my right not to remain silent. Criminal defense and First Amendment attorney.