I served in Afghanistan as a US Marine, twice. Here’s the truth in two sentences

What we are seeing in Afghanistan right now shouldn’t shock you. It only seems that way because our institutions are steeped in systematic dishonesty. It doesn’t require a dissertation to explain what you’re seeing. Just two sentences.

One: For 20 years, politicians, elites and D.C. military leaders lied to us about Afghanistan.

Two: What happened last week was inevitable, and anyone saying differently is still lying to you.

I know because I was there. Twice. On special operations task forces. I learned Pashto as a U.S. Marine captain and spoke to everyone I could there: everyday people, elites, allies and yes, even the Taliban.

The truth is that the Afghan National Security Forces was a jobs program for Afghans, propped up by U.S. taxpayer dollars — a military jobs program populated by nonmilitary people or “paper” forces (that didn’t really exist) and a bevy of elites grabbing what they could when they could.

You probably didn’t know that. That’s the point.

And it wasn’t just in Afghanistan. They also lied about Iraq.

I led a team of Marines training Iraqi security forces to defend their country. When I arrived I received a “stoplight” chart on their supposed capabilities in dozens of missions and responsibilities. Green meant they were good. Yellow was needed improvement; red said they couldn’t do it at all.

I was delighted to see how far along they were on paper — until I actually began working with them. I attempted to adjust the charts to reflect reality and was quickly shut down. The ratings could not go down. That was the deal. It was the kind of lie that kept the war going.

So when people ask me if we made the right call getting out of Afghanistan in 2021, I answer truthfully: Absolutely not. The right call was getting out in 2002. 2003. Every year we didn’t get out was another year the Taliban used to refine their skills and tactics against us — the best fighting force in the world. After two decades, $2 trillion and nearly 2,500 American lives lost, 2021 was way too late to make the right call.

You’d think when it all came crumbling down around them, they’d accept the truth. Think again.

War-hungry hawks are suggesting our soldiers weren’t in harm’s way. Well, when I was there, two incredible Marines in my unit were killed.

Elitist hacks are even blaming the American people for what happened last week. The same American people that they spent years lying to about Afghanistan. Are you kidding me?

We deserve better. Instead of politicians spending $6.4 trillion to “nation build” in the Middle East, we should start nation building right here at home.

I can’t believe that would be a controversial proposal, but already in Washington, we see some of the same architects of these Middle Eastern disasters balking at the idea of investing a fraction of that amount to build up our own country.

The lies about Afghanistan matter not just because of the money spent or the lives lost, but because they are representative of a systematic dishonesty that is destroying our country from the inside out.

Remember when they told us the economy was back? Another lie.

Our state of Missouri was home to the worst economic recovery from the Great Recession in this part of the country. I see the boarded-up stores and the vacant lots — one of which used to be my family’s home. When our country’s elites were preaching about how they had solved the financial crisis and the housing market was booming, I watched the house I joined the Marine Corps out of sit on the market for two years. My dad finally got $43,000 for it. He owed $78,000.

The only way out is to level with the American people. I’ll start. With the two-sentence truth about what we are seeing in Afghanistan right now:

For 20 years, politicians, elites and D.C. military leaders lied to us about Afghanistan.

What happened last week was inevitable, and anyone saying differently is still lying to you.

Cole County native Lucas Kunce is a Marine veteran and antitrust advocate. He is a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate.