Afghanistan Withdrawal: Not Pretty But Overdue – OpEd


On April 30, 1975, Saigon Fell. The North Vietnamese swept into the city to claim the spoils. In the days before, more than 7,000 people (Americans and South Vietnamese allies) were evacuated by helicopter from various areas of Saigon. Recent pictures of the mad scramble to escape Kabul can only remind us of the iconic photograph of a Huey helicopter landing on the roof of a CIA safe house as people lined up hoping to getaway.

What we are seeing, and what will happen in the coming months, is ugly. One must have sympathy for the young Afghans clinging to a military plane as it taxied and prepared to take off. A Taliban-run Afghanistan is not a place most of us would choose to live. There will surely be reprisals for those who collaborated with the U.S., prefer a secular state to an Islamic one, and would simply like to be left alone.

But finally, after almost 20 years, our intervention in Afghanistan is coming to an end. According to The Military Times, the war there cost over two trillion dollars and claimed 240,000 lives. But that is the measurable cost. There is no way to calculate how American involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria has destabilized the region and undermined the implementation of a sane foreign policy.

Our tenure in Afghanistan should have been a few months. It was reasonable policy to strike hard and fast in 2001 to punish and cripple Al Qaeda and their hosts the Taliban. And this was achieved quickly. What happened next was simply a failed experiment at nation-building. It highlighted the ridiculous belief that liberal democracy can and should be exported across the globe regardless of a people’s experience with constitutionalism, the rule of law, and property rights. Secular American Leftists (in the GOP and Democratic Party), having long abandoned any serious commitment to tenets of the Christian Faith, could simply not understand how religion–Islam–was taken seriously by a large segment of the Afghan population who would happily give their lives to kill Infidels. Offers of cash, technology, and infrastructure could not persuade them to part with religious convictions. Nor could bribes overcome a people’s deep-seated desire to rule themselves without outside interference. The American establishment could not comprehend this. Hence, American soldiers endured long tours of duty and watched billions of dollars being wasted in a country that, in geopolitical terms, did not matter a farthing to American interests.

Pulling out of Afghanistan is the smartest thing Joe Biden has done as president. Let’s just hope the military-industrial complex does not persuade him to change his mind.

This article was published by The Beacon

William J. Watkins, Jr.

William J. Watkins, Jr. is a Research Fellow at The Independent Institute and author of the Independent books, Crossroads for Liberty: Recovering the Anti-Federalist Values of America’s First Constitution, Reclaiming the American Revolution: The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions and Their Legacy, and Patent Trolls: Predatory Litigation and the Smothering of Innovation. Full Biography and Recent Publications

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