I am not going to post a lot about Afghanistan today. I will say I am heartbroken because of what is happening there. Innocent people are being slaughtered because of their faith, because of their political beliefs, or just because. I don’t entirely blame President Biden–it took us almost twenty years to mess this up so badly. He is only the last link on the chain. I believe an orderly withdrawal was possible, but there had to be some serious carrots and some serious sticks. Unfortunately President Biden’s track record on foreign policy has never been that good.
Yesterday The New York Sun posted its obituary for Afghanistan. Please follow the link to read the entire article. I will post a few highlights here.
The article notes that there actually is a strategic interest in dealing with the Taliban:
The first thing we did when the news came in that the capital of Afghanistan had fallen to our enemies was reach for our dog-eared copy of Peter Kann’s “Obituary for South Vietnam.” It was issued in the Wall Street Journal on May 2, 1975, the morrow of the communist conquest. We later personally heard the Journal’s legendary editor, Robert Bartley, call it the finest op-ed piece he’d ever published.
What distinguished it from the cataract gushing from the editorial pages of the day was a sympathy for our defeated allies, a fidelity to the ideals for which our GIs went to war, and a visceral distaste for the totalitarianism that drove the Soviet Union and its puppets in Hanoi to victory. He acknowledged that there were many Americans who “breathed a sigh of relief” when Vietnam fell, but he was with the mourners.
That is where our own sentiments lie today in respect of Afghanistan. They lie with the GIs who gave their hearts — and all too often their lives — to a fight that was launched against our country, out of the blue, by al Qaeda and their Taliban hosts in Afghanistan. They lie with the Afghan soldiers, warlords, and leaders who sided with America. And the millions of Afghan women and men who dreamed of an end of oppression.
To hear an American president talk as Mr. Biden does about a war-time ally is shocking. Mr. Biden has tried to palm off on his countrymen the idea that he was bound by an agreement President Trump made for a May deadline. Mr. Biden has made it his business to tear up every commitment Mr. Trump made on anything. That Mr. Biden couldn’t find it within himself to break with Mr. Trump on Afghanistan reeks of hypocrisy.
What a contrast to the way our presidents conducted themselves during Vietnam. When our Free Vietnamese allies had their backs to the wall, President Nixon and then President Ford pleaded with Congress to help Vietnam stay in the fight. Henry Kissinger literally prowled the halls of Congress. In contrast, when Afghanistan had its back to the wall against the Taliban blitzkrieg, Mr. Biden and his aides have resorted to blame-shifting the consequences of his actions.
There has been no talk of the strategic importance of Afghanistan and our bases there, though it is well understood by our military leaders (and GIs). Iran lies to the West, Pakistan to the South, China to the East. Afghanistan has long been known as the Asian roundabout. Without a presence there, we lose all access to Central Asia. Mr. Biden might come to miss that feature of the Afghan drama soon enough.
This event is a sad chapter for America and for freedom. We made many mistakes along the way. I think it is time to re-establish the idea that we cannot ever again enter a war without a plan to win it. Somehow since WWII we have lost the knowledge or the desire to actually win a war. It should also be noted that we cannot install freedom in a country that does not have the leadership to fight for it. It is no coincidence that the day before September 11, 2001, the Taliban killed the leader of the Northern Alliance. Tyrants have a history of removing anyone who may be a current or future threat to them.