Now I am sure we have forgotten

Worldview Item of the Day

When Pat Buchanan dares to write a column on RealClearPolitics suggesting that abandoning Afghanistan might be part of the solution for winning the broader war brought to our shores on 9-11, then I am sure that our nation has forgotten the lessons we should have learned in permanence on that terrible day.

It is a simple fact that no freedom loving country can allow tyranny and oppression of any kind, whatever excuse might be used to justify it, to exist if it expects its own freedom to continue. 9-11 was not just a reminder that there are people who hate America, but that they were free to act against us and our freedom because we turned a blind eye toward their excesses in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Our presence in Afghanistan now is just as much a consequence of 9-11 as it is of the twenty years of allowing that country to languish before that day.

It does not surprise me that Buchanan would come to such a conclusion. In spite of his conservative roots, Buchanan is an isolationist and a radical on issues just like the ongoing global war. What Buchanan’s audacity in writing his column shows, however, is that the idea that quitting has become institutionalized in the American psyche and that many, if not most, Americans do not understand the cost of such self-inflicted defeat.

Consider Buchanan’s unfortunate example of the Korean War. While yes, the open combat ended after three years, the cost of status quo on the Korean Peninsula is almost immeasurable. The United States has had to station sometimes significant portions of its troops on the DMZ. We have invested trillions upon trillions of dollars into maintaining our forces and South Korea. North Korea has developed nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and now seeks to sell those technologies for cash that it badly needs. In all likelihood, Kim Jong Il’s death will result in a military coup whose outcome is unpredictable and potentially tragic.

Is this the  outcome we are willing to accept with Afghanistan?

Unfortunately, I think there are many Americans who are willing to accept such an outcome because they are willing to gamble that the consequences may not occur during their lifetimes. These are the same Americans who support abandoning Iraq right at the moment where that nation is proving the idea of liberation from tyranny a success and with little thought for what such abandonment will bring.

What it will bring is yet another generation of conflict more virulent and widespread than the last and with greater consequences for the generations that follow ours. When we quit, we prove that our supposed love of freedom is a lie simply by revealing that we are willing to allow others to suffer for our own comfort and convenience.

We have entered a dangerous chapter in American and world history, a chapter that may well be marked by the failure of the world’s first and greatest democracy to live up to the calling of its Founders. What will remain if people like Buchanan have their way? I cannot be certain, but I am sure it will not be freedom for us either.


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