Victor Davis Hanson answers the question “What then to do?” about Afghanistan

Victor Davis Hanson’s bio can be read here (at his own website) – I link that to show that unlike most politicians or commentators, VDH (as readers often refer to him), brings a great deal of knowledge to his analysis of the complicated and messy foreign policy issues we face today. Few writers present with his depth of historical understanding. Since he’s familiar with about 2,500 years of military history, VDH’s articles always provide valuable perspective – to say the least.

His latest National Review article is “Bad or Worse in Afghanistan?” It’s well worth your time – especially after the headlines of the past few days.

Here is an extended excerpt:

Now, even before the latest disaster, there is no public support for staying in Afghanistan. And yet to leave is to envision choppers on the embassy roof, Vietnam-style, as the Taliban lets loose on women, liberals, and the American supporters in the larger cities. Not only would their take-over question the sacrifices of hundreds of dead Americans, but of course doom a few millions to the Dark Ages, if not the Islamic version of reeducation camps and firing squads. We should expect millions fleeing to the surrounding borders, the resurgence of the old Northern Alliance, hundreds of thousands coming to the U.S. as refugees — and soon popular unhappiness with the murderous 7th-century Taliban as the wretched cycle started all over again.

What then to do?

The president should either put Afghanistan on the front burner, quit apologizing, seek diplomatic and military continuity, spell out to the people exactly what our aims and methods are, assume the role of commander-in-chief, cease all talk of withdrawal, and define, as it could be defined, “victory” — or simply get out, declare a teleprompted hope-and-change-style victory, and not put Americans in harm’s way in a war that was more a 2008 campaign trope than a serious conflict to be won, as Americans joined the Russians, the British, and the Macedonians who all decided that short-term victory, occupation, and reform cost too much, given what might be gained in Afghanistan.

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