LET'S DISCUSS AFGHANISTAN...
This month, Grant and I made an effort to learn all we could about the quagmire that is the Middle East. I'm sure he'd agree that this topic is far more deserving than one month. In fact, the two podcasts that we invited on to help us discuss this are squarely focused on Afghanistan alone. The Panjwai Podcast and The Boardwalk Podcast are run by Afghanistan war veterans who provided Grant and I with a unique perspective and a refreshingly candid take on the situation. 20 years ago, our nation became embroiled in this war - and our main concern was picking their brains as to the why, and the what next.
When we reformatted the podcast a upon my return from Basic Training, we had one goal in mind: Keep it simple and focused. We cut out the video element and focused on making our content sound amazing, and narrowing our discussions to specific topics that we could research and form our opinions on. There are too many political pundits and grifters out there giving their unsolicited advice or opinion without even one shred of nuance, and its
creating more division. The Cogan Conversation was designed to be a podcast that welcomes respectful discourse and challenges our views. So since the reformat, Panjwai and Boardwalk are the first people we've had on the show - and boy was it thrilling. Aside from the anger, sadness, and frustration - these incredible personalities provided context and unfiltered discussion about the Afghanistan war and how they view the shortcomings of our top officials surrounding the evacuation, and tragic loss of 13 service members at HKIA in Kabul. We invited them on not just because I am a huge fan of their shows, but because I thought they could help springboard this conversation into the question "what's next?".
We chose the topic of US Military Interventionism long before we knew the shit-show that would be our withdrawal from Afghanistan. As soon as that occurred, we knew we had to pivot slightly - but it really emboldened our larger philosophical question: What is the United States role in the world?. North Korea and its insane human rights violations continues to reign today. China is currently "re-educating" Uyghur Muslims in concentration camps. Meanwhile Disney, the NBA, and all of Hollywood feel the need to kowtow to China as to not lose crucial overseas sales. But what atrocity is enough to drag us into the fight? Will it always take a Pearl Harbor, Gulf of Tonkin, or 9/11 to sell justification to the public? Or do we
have a moral obligation due to our vast resources and power? This 2 part episode with Panjwai and Boardwalk explores not only the current state of Afghanistan, but also what the US is morally obligated to do in the rest of the world. Their answers may surprise you!
Listen to Part 1 on October 11th and Part 2 on October 25th on all podcast platforms!
While it seems as though there was no plan, no proper execution, and no solid excuse as to why our forces didn't maintain Bagram ( a more tactically sound airfield), I will not be an armchair quarterback to this issue. Hindsight will always be 20/20, and it is incredibly difficult to blame leadership for unknowns. What is necessary however is accountability for mistakes made. Big or small, they factor into our withdrawal and unnecessarily killed 13 service members. The biggest issue I take is the sheer lack of transparency surrounding our tenure in Afghanistan for 20 years. Our failures had always been spun to our politicians and media that everything was going just fine, and that the Afghan National Army is well trained and fortified. Obviously this was the furthest from the truth.
What was the point then? After 9/11, we wanted to defeat Al-Qaeda and topple the Taliban... yet 20 years later and they both still exists and seem to have a new breath of confidence. Top officials must be able to explain to the American people the reasoning behind our prolonged involvement and why on earth the Afghan National Army fell so quickly to a small group of Taliban fighters without a shot ever being fired. They also need to answer for the Americans left behind after August 31st and why we EVER had a plan that called for military personnel to not be the last ones out. So many issues with this botched withdrawal. So many fingers to point blame with. But the buck stops with the presidency and his top advisors including Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley. Should they resign? Be fired? I'll forego my opinion, but I will say I was hardly satisfied with their testimony in congress. Watch a highlight below:
Accountability is needed to maintain the morale of our forces, and public trust in our military. Too many see top brass as a political elite immune to criticism and frankly how can you blame them? Our dealings in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, etc. have been mired by accusations of corruption and quests for oil. Measures our government took after 9/11 preyed on the fear we all felt on that day, and now the Patriot Act has allowed for the destruction of the 4th Amendment in the name of "safety" and we've thrown ourselves into conflicts that had nothing to do with the rag-tag group of jihadists responsible for September 11th. Perception grew skeptical as the years went on, especially to remain there 10 whole years AFTER we finally took out Bin Laden. Why? These are all questions our public is asking and should be answered in the most transparent ways to re-instill trust in our nation's forces. If our corrupt political theater can't be disconnected from elites in the US Military, I fear the thousands of lives lost these past 20 years will equate to so much heartache and despair - crippling the will power and morale of our current force and the public's support thereof.
We know you'll love these two episodes in which we further flesh out all things Afghanistan and even ask some larger picture questions. Let us know your thoughts!
WHAT WHISKY GOES WELL WITH THIS CONVERSATION??
Given the honor it was to speak with these incredibly experienced individuals, Grant and I decided to crack open my bottle of Ardbeg: Traigh Bhan 19yr old Scotch. This $350 bottle has been sitting on my expansive shelf, unopened, for the better part of a year. I had been waiting to enjoy it with Grant, as he so graciously gifted it to me, knowing how much of a fan I am of Ardbeg.
This expression was so well worth the wait, and dare I say even worth the price tag. Of course maintaining that classic Ardbeg smoke, this pour is the smoothest peated whisky I have ever experienced. Rich with dried fruits, notably raisins and dates, Ardbeg manages to perfectly balance a smokey, citrusy, and sherried taste. An absolutely worthwhile dram if you can get your hands on it. Cheers!
SHAMELESS PLUG TIME!
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LISTEN TO SEPTEMBER'S TOPIC NOW!
Should the government have the power to restrict harmful speech? Should private businesses have this power? These questions have been thrust back into the mainstream discussion with the advent of technology and seeming rise in censorship across the internet. Our founders were brilliant to enshrine the freedom of speech and press in the first amendment, but that was long before massive tech companies held such power of influence. Should big tech like Facebook and Twitter be beholden to our constitutional rights? Should Google be able to restrict search results for things they don’t want you to see because it doesn’t align with their ideology? Who’s job should it be to dictate what is good or bad, right or wrong, obscene or not? Big tech? Shouldn’t there be some personal responsibility in all this too? Either way, Censorship comes in many forms with so much to discuss. In just 2 episodes, its hard to penetrate the multi-layered issues at play, but we wanted to challenge our own thoughts and try to understand how to best frame our own opinions.
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