I would have expected the former Swedish prime minister to have a better appreciation of the challenges political leaders face when confronted with a choice like Afghanistan:
The media focuses on the 12,000 casualties and more than $1 trillion spent over the past 20 years. A complete waste. Especially when you consider the end result. But the alternative is even worse: to continue spending good money after bad, wasting more lives unnecessarily in the process. Your first duty as a leader is to avoid another young soldier returning home with his/her legs blown off or with brain trauma from an IED.
Sacrifice is necessary when there is a clear and attainable end goal in mind. But the worst kind of sacrifice is the kind politicians make because they don’t want to take a hit in the ratings. That isn’t courage, it’s cowardice.
A long, long time ago I served in a counterinsurgency operation where one of my fellow 18-year olds had his legs blown off above the knee when his horse stepped on a landmine. He died several years later. I often think of him in times like this because the conflict has long since been forgotten, the outcome was inevitable and time has marched on.
No one has the right to ask young men and women to serve in those kind of circumstances. Not you, not me, nor Joe Biden.