foreign news coverage


Afghanistan and the Decline of Enlightenment Values

The withdrawal of the U.S. and its allies from Afghanistan, and its inenluctable consequences, represent a signal retreat by the U.S. and its democratic allies from the defense of democratic values and the ideal of democracy.

The great tragedy is that 20 years of support for the democratic project in Afghanistan had produced impressive progress, in what was necessarily a long-term project. The failure of U.S. military and political leaders to understand and accept the long-term nature of the project—framing the question of Afghanistan as one of “When can we bring the troops home?”–was the fundamental and ultimately fatal flaw in U.S. strategy in the country.

Powerless. That’s how I and many others feel in the face of President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw completely from Afghanistan. Despite the wholly predictable consequences of that decision, Biden remains stubbornly defiant, ignoring or indifferent to the realities unfolding before him.

Powerless, as undoubtedly many millions of Afghans in Kabul, Kandahar, Herat and other cities must feel today.


We have forgotten the lessons of the 20th Century. International Peace and Security cannot be taken for granted. They depend on support of and adherence to international law, and the constant reaffirmation of international law, including human rights law and humanitarian law.

We have fogotten the lesson that aggression and crimes against humanity and war crimes must be vigorously resisted, or their perpetrators, like Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, will triumph.

We have forgotten the lessons of Srebrenica, that crimes against humanity must be resisted, stopped, and punished.

Ultimately, there is no rational defense of stupidity. Stupidity may accompany a lack of empathy or sense of moral imperatives to defend sacred moral values.

Regardless of whether it is the product of callous indifference or brute stupidity, or a combination of the two, Biden’s withdrawal decision seems to be set in stone. And even the rational analysts’s observations, like those of the historians, may fall like ashes into the dark canyon of oblivion.

Will the values of the Enlightenment be saved, resuscitated to light the way of a stumbling humanity which has lost its way?

It all depends on us. With deep faith in humanity, surely on a brighter day, those of us who are creatures of the Enlightenment and who still believe in the highest values of humanity, will again somehow find our way.

For we must.


Meet the Afghans America is abandoning

It is absolutely appalling to speak to fellow Americans, even those who are highly educated and intelligent, and to understand the abysmal nature of their ignorance about Afghanistan, what has happened in that country in the last 20 years, and the people who live there today.

American news coverage from Afghanistan had almost disappeared until this summer, when President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw all U.S. forces rekindled interest in some readers about the future of the country after America’s retreat.

To counter this ignorance, The Trenchant Observer is introducing a new feature under the heading, “Meet the Afghans America is abandoning.”

It is late in the game to try to counter the ignorance of the American population about Afghanistan in 2021.

We should bear in mind that polls that show 60% or 70% support for Biden’s withdrawal decision are measuring the views of ignorant and ill-informed people.

This is not so much their fault as it is the fault of American society and culture in 2021, when there is little interest in U.S. foreign policy or what is going on in the rest of the world, and news media–except for a few leading newspapers–which reflect that lack of interest.

Please accept our invitation to meet and learn about some of the Afghans who America is abandoning to the mercies of the Taliban.


Afghanistan: A chronicle of defeat and looming collapse–August 8, 2021

Developing The Taliban has continued making sweeping gains today, taking the key northern provincial capital of Kunduz, and two other provincial capitals in the North….


EMERGENCY: The U.S. and NATO must reengage in Afghanistan NOW

“The Afghan government could fall quickly,” The Trenchant Observer, July 5, 2021, updated July 21, 2021.

We are appalled, looking at the debacle in Afghanistan triggered by President Biden’s disastrous decision to surrender and withdraw from the country. Biden, instead of conducting a serious policy review and listening to his generals and senior advisers, simply followed his gut and proceeded with the implementation of Dondald Trump’s February 29, 2020 surrender nd withdrawal agreement with the Taliban. Biden didn’t even replace Zalmay Khalilzad, Trump’s ambassador in charge of the Doha negotiatons.

Biden’s failure to replace Khalilzad was powerful evidence that he didn’t want a serious review of the policy represented by the February 29,, 2020 agreement. That agreement is one of the most shameful international agreements ever entered into by the United States.

Trump didn’t give a hoot about Afghanistan, but rather signed the agreement with the Taliban in the hopes of bolstering his presidential campaign by keeping one of his promises.

The agreement itself was scandalous, exchanging unilateral American (and NATO) troop withdrawal for vague promises by the Taliban not to let the territory of Afghanistan be used by terrorist groups attacking the U.S. and its allies, and to enter into negotiations with the Afghan government for a political settlement of the nearly 20 year-old conflict.

Biden and the U.S. knew that once the withdrawal of U.S. forces was set in stone the Taliban would have no incentives for good-faith negotiations with the elected government of President Ashraf Ghani. The facts have proven that to be the case.

The disastrous nature of Biden’s decision to implement Trump’s surrender and withdrawal agreement with the Taliban has been recognized by virtually all serous military and foreign policy experts with deep knowledge of and experience in Afghanistan.



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