In Afghanistan, America Exchanges Victory for Defeat

Over the weekend, the Taliban seized Kabul as remaining Americans scrambled to get out of the country. David French, writing before the fall of Kabul, but after the Taliban offensive had already overwhelmed much of Afghanistan, comments:

With minimal exertion of military force (relative to our immense national strength), we could have prevented—and for a long while did prevent—this collapse. In fact, America hasn’t suffered a combat casualty in Afghanistan since February 8, 2020. Our military footprint was a fraction of the footprint at the height of the Afghan surge. The Taliban were never going to defeat even a small American force so long as that force remained in the nation.

Sadly, the failure of the nation-building mission obscures the Afghan war’s central success, the very success that we put at risk with our headlong withdrawal—the defense of the United States of America from terrorist attack. I’ve written this before, and I’ll keep writing it, but if you told Americans on September 12, 2001 that we were about to embark on a military mission that would help keep America safe from a significant terror attack for twenty consecutive years, they would have been astounded. It would have been tough for them to imagine that level of success.

Yet the failure of the secondary nation-building mission is causing us to risk, unacceptably, the successes of the primary self-defense mission of the American military. We are in the process of handing the Taliban back its territory and granting jihadists a safe haven. And we’re doing that when we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that terrorists can hit our cities even when their safe havens are located in backwards, tribal societies on the far side of the world.

Because of the lesser failure, we’re throwing away the greater victory. I pray that our nation does not suffer a deadly consequence.

Read more at Dispatch

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


How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus