I am a long time activist in Rhode island on peace, environmental, and justice issues and have known Senator Whitehouse for a long time. About 15 years ago we had a short conversation at a conference at Brown when he jokingly commented how my beard reminded him of those of Afghan resistance fighters. I replied, also somewhat joking, but not really, that I was growing it in solidarity with Afghan resistance to American occupation. That ended the conversation.
While I too worry about what will happen in Afghanistan when American military forces leave, the problem is there because it appears Senator Whitehouse, who always votes for war and bigger Pentagon budgets, as well as the entire government apparatus in Washington DC did not learn the real lesson of the Vietnam war. The real lesson is that imperialism is a horrible governmental policy and that it is impossible to remake other countries. The US should never again invade other countries, should stop funding dictators and guerillas, and should stop selling weapons. Yes be worried that the Taliban will kill many people, but maybe the politicians in Washington DC should have thought about that before the US invaded and occupied the country. Other than continue killing many more people, there is nothing the US can do to salvage the situation. The aftermath will be harsh, but until the US leaves and leaves them alone, the long nightmare for the Afghan people will never end. If we leave it will take time, but eventually Vietnam and Laos put their own houses in order, and Afghanistan will too.