Nebraska military members holding up Nebraska flag
Left to right: Gerald Meyer, Jeff Agriesti, Robert Keck and Tom Pirrone holding up a Nebraska flag while stationed in Afghanistan. Photo courtesy of Gerald Meyer.

Two bombs went off in Kabul airport, Afghanistan Aug. 26, killing 90 Afghans and 13 U.S. servicemen. UNL professor James D. Le Sueur and retired Army Col. Gerald Meyer shared their reactions. 

“It’s really heartbreaking. Those soldiers are good people; they went over to help Afghans and others in a crisis. I have nothing but respect for the military members,” Le Sueur said 

Le Sueur said the strategic effort of ISIS was to attack Afghans that were fleeing but more importantly the U.S. military. Le Sueur said he has always been critical of the invasion and occupation of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, but that the U.S. had the right to strike strategic al-Qaeda targets after 9/11. Although Le Sueur never supported the occupation of Afghanistan, he does not agree with how the Biden administration withdrew the military from Afghanistan.

“The Biden administration withdrew military forces before the other elements of evacuation were prepared. It was a disaster,” Le Sueur said. “It’s great they could get a hundred thousand people out, but this was clearly an afterthought, and many of us are still attempting to get our friends out of Afghanistan.”

Le Sueur said the bombing is evidence of poor planning by the Biden administration, and he is infuriated by how the aftermath of the bombings has been handled with pulling troops out of Kabul. He said Biden has brought an orientalist view by making it seem that the U.S. engagement with Afghanistan only mattered in terms of fighting against terrorism. Le Sueur said the way troops were forced to abandon their base in Kabul makes it a transactional relationship, which is not how he thinks of America. 

President Biden and his administration’s decision to remove troops from Kabul when the goal was to help build a society in Afghanistan has left Le Sueur furious. 

“He’s completely left out the civil society components in Afghanistan,” he said. “I think it’s fair to say that many people on the left and the right consider it a debacle. This has given us reason to doubt how well this was planned.”

Le Sueur has been working with state officials for the last two months applying for visas and trying to come up with solutions to help bring Afghans to safety. Le Sueur said Sen. Deb Fischer and other Republican politicians responded to him almost immediately with his appeals for help, and that he is thankful for the help of the Republican senators and congressmen.

“They have been concerned, they are doing things, they are trying to help but this is so overwhelming and now everybody’s trying to help when it’s too late,” Le Sueur said. “The State Department really blew this.”

Retired Army Col. Gerald Meyer of Seward had a similar reaction. 

“It’s been tough to watch the news over the last four weeks,” Meyer said. “I feel bad for the families. It’s tough to understand that your loved ones will be the last ones to be killed in Afghanistan.”

Biden decided to withdraw American troops from a two-decade war against the Taliban ending the longest war in United States history. According to the New York Times, Biden withdrew American troops because Afghanistan’s own armed forces refused to stand and fight the Taliban.

Meyer was deployed to Afghanistan in 2003, 2004 and then again in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and became really familiar with the area and the Afghan people. He said he is working with Task Force Dunkirk, a team working to evacuate Afghan interpreters, translators, other allies and their families to bring them to the U.S. Meyer said under normal circumstances, applying for visas is the way of helping bring people to the U.S., but that now it’s too late. 

“It’s almost tragic to think people are going to lose their lives over a piece of paperwork,” Meyer said. 

20032004AfghanistanP - Nebraskans react to bombings in Kabul
Left to right: Ronald Gordan and Gerald Meyer were stationed in Afghanistan in 2003. Courtesy Photo/Gerald Meyer
Senior student majoring in Journalism with a minor in Communications at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln.