Monday, August 16, 2021

Not Afghanistan

A guy who describes himself as "retired C.I.A.":

We shouldn't fight wars for reasons of national pride, nor resist ending them because of fear of humiliation. If we choose to continue a military presence abroad, there needs to be a better reason, even from someone with such a great surname.

President Biden also may fail to recognize the stakes. Biden in 2010 had told Richard Holbrooke that the USA was not in Afghanistan to preserve womens' rights and earlier this year told CBS' Margaret Brennan

There are a thousand places we could go to deal with injustice. I can think of ten countries where women and/or children and/or people are being persecuted or being hurt. But the idea of us being able to use our armed forces to solve every single problem that exists throughout the world is not within our capacity.

The question is- is American's vital self interest at stake or are the vital self interests of one our allies at stake. And the fact that they have a system in parts of Afghanistan, as they do in parts of Pakistan, as they do in parts of other countries, that we're going to send troops because there is not- human rights are not being valued the same same degree that we are, that's a different story about sending combat troops....

After eight years during of a President not prioritizing the interests of our allies and four years in which a President actively undermined them, it is encouraging to have one who is vitally concerned with the self-interest of allies. (Presumably, Biden was unaware that when he said "women and/or children and/or people," he was suggesting women and children are not people.)

Biden correctly notes that the issue is whether the interests of our nation or of our allies is at stake. Brennan had helpfully asked Biden about Holbrooke's belief that the American military must remain in Afghanistan to safeguard the rights of women.  Biden then, credibly, noted that human rights are lacking in numerous countries across the world.

But of course the issue is not human rights or, more specifically, the rights of women. A much broader concern must be terrorism.  In light of the stunningly rapid deterioration of the situation in Afghanistan, a range of politicians, retired members of the military, and other pundits have sounded an alarm about Al Qaeda.

This has come about rather suddenly- about as sudden as the Taliban's recent march through Afghanistan.  From the time Biden announced on April 14 the decision to withdraw from the country until the collapse begun last week, there were few warnings about the possibility of Al Qaeda resuming its operations in Afghanistan as a staging area. Then-President Trump had declared the Middle East ISIS-free, and that was that, aside from an occasional article in the print media. Now, alarm.  

The dire predictions that Afghanistan now will become a hotbed of terrorism and- more importantly- a sort of homeland for terrorism may or may not become reality.

That is why it is so difficult to assess accurately the consequences of the withdrawal.  Womens' rights, left to radical Islamists who distort Islam to their own end, will deteriorate dramatically and Afghanistan probably will end up even worse off than when the American military invaded in 2003.

But no one cares. No one, except possibly the Iranian government and Jimmy Carter, cares about Afghanistan. The issue is the future of terrorism and no one can determine definitively what that is, other than the geniuses saturating the airwaves of cable news the past several days.


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