16 August 2021


Farflung correspondents, 

Although it can hardly be clearer that this juncture in history is an unmitigated tragedy for Afghanistan, and there is much to criticize in the way the pullout was allowed to transpire, in the end, I believe, there was no choice but to bring the 20 year conflict involving the US to an end and pull out. This kind of conflict has no real possibility of "victory." The irreducible truth is that there is substantial support in the country for the Islamist forces of the Taliban, and, again, in the end, who governs Afghanistan simply is not up to us. 
I believe that although the way this has gone will not inure to the benefit of Biden and Democrats in the short run, in the longer term, by which I suspect we mean months not years, most Americans will have all but forgotten Afghanistan. We are ready to turn the page and no longer be involved in an unwinnable conflict on a permanent basis. The citizens of a country, however problematic its cultural traditions and rulers, are responsible for their own governance. We cannot and should not expect to use military force to maintain a regime we consider more favorable to our geopolitical interests or concepts of how societies should be governed. Unless we were to choose the path of literal empire, and take control of every place in the world whose government we don't like (clearly not an option anyway), we just have to live with the multipolar world where not everyone is our friend. 

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