U.S Foreign Relations

The Media: Debates on Afghanistan are as if it were in another time, on another planet

30 years ago, perhaps, the United States still had a foreign policy elite which led public opinion on complicated foreign policy issues, about which the average American was ignorant and didn’t have a clue.
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So, in this media environment, where there are few editors and producers capable of finding and using the best expert opinion from the foreign policy elite–people who really know what they are talking about–it is not surprising that so much discussion focuses on interviews or discussions with individuals with no deep foreign policy expertise on Afghanistan.
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The battle was never about whether the U.S. would win the war against the Taliban. It was always about whether the Afghan people would win their struggle for a civilized, and democratic, future. 70,000 Afghan soldiers, over the years, gave up their lives in pursuit of that goal.

But the United States lacked what has been called ” strategic patience”.

Joe Biden was right about one thing. The victory of the Taliban in Afghanistan was due to a failure of government leadership and the lack of a will to fight.

But the failure of government leadership and the lack of a will to fight were, most decisively, not those of Afghanistan, but rather those of the United States.

In one of the great ironies of history, Joe Biden and America, in 2021, have dealt a great body blow to Afghan dreams and aspirations for a civilized and even a democratic future.







Equity or Equality of Opportunity

If race is used as a criterion for selection, in allocating not only opportunities but also results, how long will it be before those from other races not so favored will rise up in rebellion? What assurance do we have that their rebellion will be constrained by the Constitution and the rule of law?

Maybe it is not the pursuit of excellence or meritocracy per se that is responsible for the racial and social inequities thar exist in society, but a combination of historical, economic, cultural and social forces that have produced the complex reality in which we currently live.

Viewed from this broader perspective, Sandel’s analysis appears to,be unduly reductionistic, the product of too much theory and philosophy and insufficient attention to the concrete realities in which people actually live.

Now, George F. Will, a highly respected and insightful conservative columnist for the Washington Post, has written a powerful critique of Sandel’s book and the whole attack on excellence–as an overriding policy goal for society and universities to follow in allocating not only opportunities but also results, i.e., jobs, power, and other social rewards.

Democrats would do well to listen carefully to Will’s arguments.


Sleepwalking in the garden of fascism: “Merrily we roll along!”

Too many frowns can change the brightest disposition
As sure as clouds can darken the dawn
Yet every joy in life has been our one ambition.
And that’s how we intend to go on!

Merrily we roll along, my honey and me
Verily there’s no one half as happy as we

Merrily we dance along while facing the sun
Merrily our slogan is: ‘say, don’t we have fun?’
We live in style, with a smile and a song
As we merrily roll along!

Though we often quarrel for it’s human I’m sure
But we find there’s nothing that a kiss cannot cure
We’re for each other, how can we go wrong?
As we merrily roll along!
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Everyone seems quite undisturbed by the non-prosecution of politicians in high places who have committed serious and blatant crimes, in broad daylight.

Trump introduced the normalization of the unthinkable, and the normalization of the unforgivable.

The Biden Administration and Attorney General Garland are now introducing the normalization of impunity for politically-motivated crimes at the highest levels.
House Democrats should forget the immense distraction of conducting yet another investigation of the insurrection on January 6.

Instead, they should be holding hearings into why the Biden Administration and the Justice Department are not prosecuting serious felonies committed by the former president and his Republican co-conspirators who sought to overthrow the election and the Constitution of the United States.

The country faces a stark choice between prosecuting the presumptive criminals, who committed their crimes in broad daylight, or accepting the normalization of impunity for political crimes at high levels, as the country rolls merrily along.

If America chooses the second path, what could possibly go wrong?



Biden’s looming foreign policy catastrophe in Afghanistan

The agreement is an abomination. It reflects a policy of Donald Trump which was aimed primarily at giving him an advantage in the 2020 presidential election.

It pursues the wrong goal, and was negotiated by the wrong people. It is strongly opposed by the Afghan Government of Ashraf Ghani, leading experts, and many allies whose forces (primarily from the NATO countries, in addition to the U.K and Canada ) have fought and died alongside American and Afghan soldiers, all in pursuit of what the U.S. held out to be the goal of establishing a democratic state governed by law.

Now, the United States has joined with Russia in convening a conference in Moscow attended by Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey. Notoriously uninvited and absent were the Europeans and the NATO members who helped make up the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan from 2001-2014, and its follow-on successor, “Operation Resolute Support”, which in principle has been focused on training.

The reason the Europeans were not invited is blazingly clear: They would never go along with a settlement which sells out the democratic government of Afghanistan, established pursuant to elections in 2018 (legislative) and 2019 (presidential), and made up of the two leading presidential candidates in 2019 and their forces. Nor would the Europeans be likely to go along with a settlement that surrenders the future of Afghan women to the Taliban.