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These Videos of People Falling Off US Military Jets as They Take Off From Kabul Will Fuel Nightmares

By now we should all have seen this footage of Afghani people - all of them men, it would appear - chasing a US Air Force C-17 down the runway and clinging to whatever piece of it they could hold onto. What their endgame was, I suppose only someone who is caught up in the same desperate, chaotic madness as them could possibly imagine. Which is to say, few people on Earth. 

Perhaps they thought if they just hung onto something, they could find a way inside the craft? Or that they could survive a transoceanic flight clinging to the side of a cargo jet flying higher than a commercial airliner? This is not the time for a Tom Cruise Mission Impossible reference, but maybe that was in their thoughts? More likely, they saw the alternative of staying in Afghanistan and suffering the consequences of living under a brutal, oppressive, extremist caliphate and just decided grabbing hold of a flying fortress and hoping for the best was a better option. 

Dwell on that thought for a minute. Given the choice between clutching to the side of an aircraft in the upper atmosphere or having their feet on the ground under Taliban rule, the C-17 was the lesser of two evils. Keep that in your mind and in your heart and cherish the freedoms we enjoy, because they have been won and preserved at a high cost by brave people. And they are precious. And fragile. 

The results of these desperate attempts were as horrifying as they were inevitable. WARNING: THESE VIDEOS ARE HORRIFYING:

I wouldn't deign to try and add anything to Kate's post about the whole situation in Afghanistan, which is quite honestly one of the best and most important things ever to appear on this site:

But I can't think of anything that illustrates the utter futility of this 20 year fiasco than these images. The United States sent military personnel over there to topple a government in answer to a terrorist attack in a move that practically every American supported. The government had to respond to 9/11, we all thought, or else we'll look weak and just invite more attacks. Then after that government fell, we stayed. And stayed. Through two eight-year Commanders in Chief and one one-termer, they refused to declare victory and bring everyone home. Even after one President gave a speech on an aircraft carrier in front of a banner that read "Mission Accomplished," they didn't decide the mission was accomplished. Even after Bin Laden was taken out, they stayed. To build and maintain a new government that was never anything more than a house of cards on a rickety table and had no hope of ever remaining standing once we left. Whether the US pulled out in 2002, 2012, 2022 or 2032. 

But the people in charge used the chaos that would most definitely occur once the US stood down as an excuse to keep sending young Americans into harm's way. To risk death, injury, maiming and the kinds of wounds you can't see. While government and military leaders and weapons manufacturers got rich. Along with some of the worst human beings on the planet over there. They either criminally ignorant of the fact that Afghanistan has been known as "The Graveyard of Empires," or they did know and decided through their own hubris that they could go in there and do what other nations have been failing to do for millennia: Establish order. And not one of them will pay a price. The cost of this two decade debacle has been paid, like it always is, by working class Americans. And by people so caught up in the meat grinder of history that they'd rather risk plummeting to their death off the wheels of a jet than live the future that awaits them. 

Lastly, I can't shake this thought. In fact, it's probably how we'll all remember this as history looks back at the debacle that has been the war in Afghanistan. It began with gut wrenching footage of ordinary people falling to their deaths in the World Trade Center towers. And ended almost exactly 20 years later with ordinary people falling to their deaths on a United States Air Force jet. History has a warped and tragic sense of irony.