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Sprinkles from the Left

⏰🚀 Ready, Set, Go: These opinions take 1.58 minutes to read.

“America’s longest war also was one of its most senseless. Comparisons to Vietnam dogged it from the start and only seemed more accurate when then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld caustically dismissed them when raised by the media.
Many of us who served in Afghanistan knew the likelihood of lasting success was slim to none. Still, we diligently pursued a policy that now has delivered us back to the beginning…

Ideology was never the issue. Credibility was, and few believed the United States would succeed in its effort to install a functioning democracy built on stable institutions. They had little doubt about the Taliban’s credibility.

Insecure armchair patriots criticize our withdrawal as a betrayal of the sacrifice already made — as if sending more Americans to kill and die in a hopeless cause is somehow more honorable than acknowledging reality.

At least Vietnam occurred within the strategic context of the Cold War. U.S. military force in Afghanistan occurred in a strategic desert. Magical thinking does not produce coherent policy…

Afghanistan may not simply revert to the worst of the Taliban’s depravities, but neither is it likely to survive as an emerging democracy. Whatever the outcome, it will be a reflection of the strategic void the United States entered after winning the Cold War. It would be comforting to believe the current administration is forging a new strategy. But maybe that’s just magical thinking, too.”

Ambassador David Robinson a retired emissary to Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Venezuela, Bolivia and Guyana. (Published in The Hill)

“Twenty years ago, Afghanistan was an information desert. Under the Taliban, there were no independent media outlets. There were no female journalists. There was no public debate. The voices of ordinary people were silenced and sidelined. Taliban edicts served as “news.”

Over the next two decades, that completely changed. Today, vibrant networks of radio, television and online media reach all 34 provinces. Female journalists, in a country that previously barred women from education, number over 1,100. Local media, according to a 2019 survey, is the second most-trusted public institution in Afghanistan, behind only religious leaders.

Now the withdrawal of United States forces from the country threatens to upend the progress Afghans have made toward a more open and inclusive society. As the Taliban surround major cities, spreading violence and destruction, the prospects for independent media are dire…

As international forces withdraw from Afghanistan, we have a moral obligation to stand with those who worked toward a more open and inclusive country. For 20 years, Afghan journalists were among the West’s greatest allies. We cannot be bystanders to their undoing.”

Ms. Bourgault is the president of Internews, an organization that supports independent media around the world, including in Afghanistan. Mr. Rashid is the author of “Taliban” and an expert on the country. (Published in the NY Times)

Sprinkles from the Right

⏰🚀 Ready, Set, Go: These opinions take 1.65 minutes to read.

“Biden Administration officials continue to insist that diplomacy is the only solution in Afghanistan. The Taliban has other ideas as its military advance continues over ever more Afghan territory and targets government officials who worked with the U.S…

The Taliban now controls or contests more than 80% of Afghanistan’s districts, according to the Long War Journal, and provincial capitals are under siege…

More cities will fall as America’s emergency air support ends at the end of August, and the bloodbath will escalate. The allied presence in Afghanistan failed to end the Taliban insurgency. But maintaining air support and a few thousand troops and contractors would have prevented the strategic and humanitarian nightmare that is unfolding now and is likely to have consequences far beyond Afghanistan.

Extremist groups don’t fight wars because they want a diplomatic solution. They fight because they want to win and impose their terms on the loser. That’s what the Taliban is now doing after President Biden ignored military advice and withdrew so recklessly and without a plan to prevent disaster.”

Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

“Barely a day passes without additional news of Taliban gains in Afghanistan.

Perhaps the Afghan government and its forces will prove more resilient than many expect, but if the country continues its slide toward chaos or, worse, the Taliban rapidly take Kabul, President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw a residual U.S. force will look like an amateurish, unforced error by a man who prides himself on his foreign-policy experience and acumen.

With his top military leadership opposed and credible warnings that Kabul could fall within months after a withdrawal, Biden went ahead with it anyway on the basis of what an aide has called “his gut.”

So far, indications are that the president would have been better off heeding his military advisers than his viscera.

The Afghan war has, of course, stretched on for two decades and become a holding action satisfying to no one. But the cost to the U.S. of sustaining 3,500 troops in the country without losing anyone in combat for more than a year hasn’t been high compared with the entirely plausible downside of Islamist extremists allied with al-Qaeda sweeping to power again in Afghanistan…

One justification for leaving is that it will free up resources for us to concentrate on the growing threat from China. It’s not as though the 3,000 ground troops are going to relocate to East Asia, though, and make a difference in the balance of power there. On top of this, if there is an unraveling in Afghanistan, controlling the fallout will become a consuming issue for the U.S. military.”

Rich Lowry, National Review