America’s Moral Collapse in Afghanistan

Considering America’s shambolic retreat from Afghanistan, Ayaan Hirsi Ali—who has spent much of her life warning of the dangers of Islamist radicals like the Taliban, and trying to protect the rights of Muslim women—takes President Biden to task for his claim that America’s “only vital national interest” in that country lies in “preventing a terrorist attack” on U.S. soil:

In reality, this chaotic, humiliating withdrawal significantly increases the risk of a terror attack on the U.S. homeland; . . . in intelligence terms Afghanistan is now a black hole. Even if we are able to extricate some of our Afghan intelligence assets, the U.S. has lost a key source of information on jihadist activity.

A little bit more imagination would also have revealed how China, Iran, and other current adversaries will likely use the Afghan fiasco to their advantage. . . . And what about our allies? Will India trust the U.S. as the leading partner of the “Quad” (along with Australia and Japan) designed to check the growing power of China? How about our European partners and the transatlantic alliance?

The second problem informing Biden’s approach concerns the moral decay of Western civilization. . . . We’ve become so focused on microaggressions in America that we have lost sight of the macroaggressions happening to women around the world. . . . In today’s perverse American culture, . . . more attention is devoted to the use of preferred gender pronouns than to the plight of women whose most basic rights—to education, personal autonomy, the right to be present in a public space—are either removed or under serious threat.

What we’ve witnessed this week in Afghanistan is a watershed moment in Western decline. [A segment of] American culture today tells us not to be proud of our country; not to believe in the superiority of American values; not to promote the rights we are afforded by our Constitution so that they can be enjoyed by people around the world.

Let us hope that enough Americans have not succumbed to this moral decay.

Read more at UnHerd

More about: Afghanistan, Joseph Biden, Taliban, U.S. Foreign policy


Recognizing a Palestinian State Won’t Help Palestinians, or Even Make Palestinian Statehood More Likely

While Shira Efron and Michael Koplow are more sanguine about the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and more critical of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, than I am, I found much worth considering in their recent article on the condition of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Particularly perceptive are their comments on the drive to grant diplomatic recognition to a fictive Palestinian state, a step taken by nine countries in the past few months, and almost as many in total as recognize Israel.

Efron and Koplow argue that this move isn’t a mere empty gesture, but one that would actually make things worse, while providing “no tangible benefits for Palestinians.”

In areas under its direct control—Areas A and B of the West Bank, comprising 40 percent of the territory—the PA struggles severely to provide services, livelihoods, and dignity to inhabitants. This is only partly due to its budgetary woes; it has also never established a properly functioning West Bank economy. President Mahmoud Abbas, who will turn ninety next year, administers the PA almost exclusively by executive decrees, with little transparency or oversight. Security is a particular problem, as militants from different factions now openly defy the underfunded and undermotivated PA security forces in cities such as Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm.

Turning the Palestinian Authority (PA) from a transitional authority into a permanent state with the stroke of a pen will not make [its] litany of problems go away. The risk that the state of Palestine would become a failed state is very real given the PA’s dysfunctional, insolvent status and its dearth of public legitimacy. Further declines in its ability to provide social services and maintain law and order could yield a situation in which warlords and gangs become de-facto rulers in some areas of the West Bank.

Otherwise, any steps toward realizing two states will be fanciful, built atop a crumbling foundation—and likely to help turn the West Bank into a third front in the current war.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian statehood