How can we declare victory?

By John Kanelis /

Twenty years ago, the United States decided to retaliate against the monsters who attacked us on 9/11.

I recall asking back then: How will we be able to know when to end this war against international terrorism? I also wondered how we can declare victory in a war that might seem to have no end.

Well, one aspect of that war is coming to a conclusion. President Biden has ordered all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, which had given safe haven to the terrorists who hit us on 9/11.

My questions remain the same today as they were when I posed them back in 2001. President Biden has made what amounts to an executive decision. The time has come, he said, to end the war. How does he know that? Well, he hasn’t explained that to us in terms that I have heard.

As for a victory declaration … there won’t be anything of the sort. We will see no “Mission Accomplished” banner hanging across the White House portico.

Indeed, the decision carries plenty of risk. The Taliban are on the march in Afghanistan. The future of women and children in that country now become tenuous. Biden’s predecessor as POTUS sought to negotiate with the terrorists; it didn’t go well for either side.

To be honest, it has been a haphazard withdrawal. There is no clear plan to offer safety for the thousands of contractors who worked with our forces during the Afghan War. I will retain plenty of hope that the president will come up with a plan to provide refuge for the translators and others who assisted our men and women on the battlefield.

However, a war against international terror cannot possibly signal that we have defeated the terrorists, that we have eliminated the threat. Indeed, the threat was always there, always lurking just below the surface, just beyond our consciousness.

It will be there even as we exit the field of battle in Afghanistan.