The Significance of Afghanistan to the U.S. II. What Should We Do Now?

“You were given the choice between war and dishonor.  You chose dishonor and you will have war”
Winston Churchill to Neville Chamberlin, 1938

As the chaotic withdrawal from Kabul continues and the Taliban now control Afghanistan, how should the U.S. respond to its disastrous withdrawal?

Mr. Paul Wolfowitz, a veteran foreign policy and military analyst, offers the following suggestions for how the U.S. can recover from this disaster.  Start out by acknowledging the mistakes that were made:

  • First, acknowledge that the war on terrorism isn’t over and will last for a long time. Decisive victory isn’t necessarily better than “forever war” if a long commitment can keep America safe at a much lower cost in American lives.
  • Second, the rush to get out and the failure to respond to Taliban aggression hastened the collapse of the Afghan army.
  • Third, choosing to avoid “forever war” by abandoning our Afghan allies was both costly and dishonorable. We have now lost the Afghan army which was keeping the Taliban at bay with much reduced costs in American lives and money.
  • Fourth, it was wrong to disparage the bravery of the Afghans, 66,000 of whom have died defending their country. S. fatalities had been averaging about 20 per year since the U.S. switched to a largely advisory role in 2015.  But now the Taliban victory could reverberate far beyond Afghanistan and inspire terrorists around the world.

Then it is necessary to chart a path forward for recovery from this fiasco:

  • First, attend to the safety of Americans, citizens of allied nations, and Afghans now endangered because they assisted in the fight against the Taliban. Do not let the Taliban dictate the terms under which we conduct such a morally and strategically vital mission.
  • Second, there now needs to be more visible action and coordination with Japan and other allies to strengthen deterrence in order to forestall an attack on Taiwan by China.
  • Third, more needs to be done to assure the weaker Persian Gulf countries that the U.S. will protect them against Iran.

Conclusion.  How can a President who is known for his opposition to the 1991 Gulf War, his eagerness to leave both Iraq in 2011 and Afghanistan in 2021, and his opposition to the 2011 raid which killed Osama bin Laden, admit major errors of judgment with regard to the current situation in Afghanistan and propose a sensible road forward?  It won’t be easy, of course, but the success of Biden’s Presidency; and therefore the near-term future of U.S. world-standing and security, depend on his willingness to bite the bullet and be willing to stand up much more firmly against our major adversaries.

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6 thoughts on “The Significance of Afghanistan to the U.S. II. What Should We Do Now?

  1. I would add the following:

    Maintaining a regularly initiated, multi-faceted, and precisely implemented cluster of strategic capabilities to thwart the efforts of our adversaries to disassemble the Common Good of the United States and our allies.

  2. As a Marine veteran of Vietnam these last two weeks has brought back vivid memories of what happened during our exit from that country. I had hoped our State Department and military commanders had laid out contingency plans in the years after Vietnam in case of a future similar withdrawal. The sobering fact is that we have left both American citizens and Afghan allies behind. And just the value of the military equipment regardless of its operational status is a huge loss to the United States. It will come to the point that those left behind will either become pawns at best or hostages at worse. And that prospect is likely to guide our foreign policy in Asia. I see this whole withdrawal debacle as a diplomatic failure that will encourage China to become even more adventuresome throughout the Asian economic sphere.

    • I suspect that you are right about the new challenges to U.S world leadership as a result of our botched Afghan withdrawal. It’s going to be a long 3 and 1/2 more years of Biden unless he toughens up to our adversaries.

    • The likely resurgence of Afghan genocide will especially undermine our nation’s worldwide, leadership capabilities within the evolving Anthropocene era, not to mention the erosion of our own social cohesion.

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