The Gate

Blood. Body bags. Beheadings.

Stephen P. Watkins
3 min readSep 11, 2021


Trillions of dollars of treasure. Used for our health, education economy, environment, infrastructure. Or not.

Instead, our blood and treasure were used in our quest for justice, for national pride, and, yes, to satisfy a President’s ego and feed the inflamed passions of his Republican followers.

What did they create?

The deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraquis and Afghans. ISIS. ISIS-K. The bloated, insane PATRIOT Act. The Dept. of Homeland Security. Travel restrictions that would make a Third World dictator blush with envy. The leviathan budgets for the military-industrial complex.

And, in the end, a disgraceful, haphazard departure from Kabul, showing that the world’s most powerful nation couldn’t organize an exit from its quagmire in Afghanistan with at least a modicum of grace.

The Taliban, after 10 years of Russian warfare, and 20 years of the same from America, looked at our technological superiority and said:

You may have the wristwatch….but we have the time.

The same people, starting 2,000 years before the advent of Islam, repulsed the Macedonians, the Greeks, the Bactrians, the Sogdians, the British, and others, not by military superiority, but by three factors.

  1. Intimate knowledge of the topography of their country.
  2. An equally intimate knowledge of relationships between families, clans, and tribes, in terms of who was and who wasn’t trustworthy as an ally.
  3. A fixed resistance to domination by any and all outside powers. Temporary setbacks were just that: temporary. But in the eyes of its warrior culture, in the long run, invaders would never defeat Afghan fighters.

Much the same attitude was demonstrated by the North Vietnamese, fighting as the Viet Cong. They became masters of asymmetrical warfare, not burdened by traditional concepts of well-recognized and organized battle lines, but by so-called guerilla warfare, where you use your enemy’s strengths against him, and exploit his weaknesses.

In today’s America, a riven society divided far more than at any time in its history, we can learn from 20 years’ worth…



Stephen P. Watkins

Top Writer in Politics. Author of “The ‘Plenty’ Book — the Answer to the Question: What Can I do to Make This a Better World?,” available on