We Should Have Stayed in Afghanistan: A Lesson for the Future - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
We Should Have Stayed in Afghanistan: A Lesson for the Future

Charles Wiley, a 95-year-old World War II veteran, with over 65 years experience as a foreign/military correspondent and lecturer, says:

I’m against the United States being the policeman of the world.

I’m against a policy of nation building.

Unfortunately, our country followed both of these bad ideas and other failed   policies since we won the Cold War, so U.S. diplomatic/military strategy has been a disaster.

Even during that conflict, we made many blunders that have influenced problems that we have today. One example: We should never have thrown Taiwan under the bus as a gift to China in 1979. We should have kept our full diplomatic relationship. And, as part of our military commitment, kept our navy in the Taiwan Straits.   

But, those who urged that we could work with China against the Soviet threat without betraying long-time allies were ignored. Campaigning on behalf of our friends on Taiwan was a hopeless task.    

The worst U.S. strategic mistake was the failure to bring post-communist Russia into the strongest possible alliance with the US and NATO.

The rewards would have been tremendous. A different Russia would have developed. Above all, China would be checkmated.

But we few who emphatically called for this policy at the end of the Cold War were met with deaf ears by our policy makers.

Worst  disaster #2: Most of our involvement in the Middle East has had terrible consequences. Above all, the war with Iraq.

During the lead-up to our invasion, the few who pointed out the folly of attacking Iraq were angrily shouted down. I still have the scars.

The most recent big mistake:

We should have stayed in Afghanistan!

Except for our initial invasion of that country, which was exceptionally well done, most subsequent American policies in the area have been failures.

But, however we got there, in July we had a strong presence in Afghanistan.

It had been paid for by great sacrifices of our military. Plus, a trillion dollars or more.

And we gave it away!

With the super base at Bagram, we and our NATO allies, who had a large number of troops serving with us, could have stayed in Afghanistan indefinitely at relatively little cost. (There was only one KIA in the previous 15 months before our disastrous withdrawal. We had more casualties in the U.S. during training exercises.)

Had we stayed, 13 American service personnel would still be alive.

We and Europe would not be trying to absorb huge numbers of refugees.

With advisors and our air support, the Afghan Army could have defended Kabul and other strategic positions without American ground forces.

The United States homeland would be in much less danger from terrorists.   

We would have had an incredibly valuable intelligence center in the middle of an ever more important part of the world.

We’d have the ability to crush any terrorist build-up in the area.

We would also have control of any important mineral findings.

Instead, it is China that is already moving forward with plans to mine in Afghanistan.

They are also building military bases nearby.

Had we stayed, a very nice bonus would be that much of the Afghan population, especially women, would be able to have closer-to-normal lives.

Keeping a small United States military presence in Afghanistan would add only a very small number to the almost 200,000 troops stationed at hundreds of bases in nations spread across the globe.

I’m fully aware that, while hopefully very few, there would be casualties if we stayed in Afghanistan.

I’ve seen much war and am against any military action that can be avoided.

Unfortunately, the reality is that risks are a necessary part of being a super power.   The most terrible truth is that some may pay the ultimate price.

Every member of the military understands that. They took an oath that, if necessary, they would sacrifice their life for our country.

We owe them our dedication to NEVER put them in harm’s way unless it absolutely makes sense to do so.

Sadly, sometimes it does makes sense to take calculated risks.

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