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There are no solutions; there are only trade-offs. – Thomas Sowell
There is no better illustration of this piece of Sowell food than the events of August. Joe Biden claimed he has solved the problem of America’s endless war in Afghanistan, through a precipitous pullout. This is only sort-of, kind-of true. The US’s war in Afghanistan is over. We are not there. However, war in Afghanistan continues, albeit between different groups of Afghans. And it certainly continues for the thousands of US citizens stuck in Afghanistan.
(Please do not insult me by repeating the Administration lie that only a few hundred US citizens remain in Afghanistan. The Administration gave a low-ball estimate of 10,000 US citizens in Afghanistan in early August and admits we only withdrew several thousand that month. Plus other estimates in early August stated there were 15,000 to 40,000 US citizens scattered throughout Afghanistan. Do the math.)
But is the greater war over? That depends entirely on the Taliban, ISIS and Al Qaeda. The enemy gets a vote. They have a secure base from which to launch terror attacks on the United States and an open southern US border from which to mount them. And no fear of the consequences of making another attack on this country. Why should they after we tucked our tails and ran from them?
Additionally, the US pullout was done without consulting our allies and partners in this venture. I am not talking about the Afghans. I am talking about the British, French, Germans, and even the Ukrainians. I know there are Ricochetti who claim these allies have no other choice than to suck up this US betrayal, and that legally we were entitled to behave in this manner. That is short-sighted. An unreliable ally is worse than no ally. These nations, and many around the world, will make plans excluding the US.
Can Taiwan, Japan, or South Korea depend upon the US nuclear umbrella to protect them going forward? I would not if I were them. And all three are capable of producing nuclear weapons virtually overnight. What will the US do? Sanction them? That would be cutting off our nose to spite our face. It would make us more economically dependent on our chief international adversary, China.
Will central Asian (the ‘stans) or Middle Eastern nations be more or less willing to host US military bases now than they were before? Why stick your neck out to support a feckless, unreliable United States? Better to hike the price of your oil exports to them and rely on your own resources.
No, withdrawing from Afghanistan was not a solution. It was a trade-off. A particularly poorly thought out one.Published in