(Aug. 31) To learn the right lessons for future foreign policy and military decisions, we must reanalyze not just what the United States did wrong in how it left Afghanistan, but also what was wrong in deciding to leave at all.

The decision to leave Afghanistan was made, ham-handedly and tragically , by former President Donald Trump and confirmed with feckless and even more tragic operational follow-up by President Joe Biden. Every sentient person should be unendingly furious at Biden, his Cabinet, and the top generals who completed the retreat and defeat without rescuing all Americans who wanted to leave and while Biden failed to honor a law requiring him to report to Congress in advance of his withdrawal plans. The behavior of Biden and his team is a monumental disgrace, the worst diplomatic/military conduct of my lifetime and perhaps in all of U.S. history. Mass resignations are in order, but apparently, these people have little sense of honor.

But everybody seems to just blow by the question of whether the U.S. should have withdrawn from Afghanistan at all. I already have argued that we should have remained. On Monday, a thoughtful reader named Gary Lester put the issue in sharper perspective.

“Another way of considering the question of our involvement there,” he wrote me. “If there had been no ‘war’ there 2001-2020 and the U.S.A. were offered the opportunity to take control of Bagram AFB, wouldn’t we jump on that as a chance to establish a viable, defensible base in a forward position vis a vis both Russia and China? Irregardless of the war in Afghanistan itself, didn’t that base offer us major strategic advantages in that part of the world? For the life of me, I don’t understand why we would give up that toehold.”…. [The full column is at this link.]


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