Worst argument so far about the Afghanistan withdrawal, courtesy of the Atlantic.
At the moment, an influential section of the press is consumed by the idea that Joe Biden made a substantially shameful and politically catastrophic mistake in withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan after 20 (!) Years of brutal stalemate. (There are, of course, a number of targeted criticisms of the way the government appears to have carried out the withdrawal regardless of the survival of the Afghans who worked with the US from what the supposedly embarrassing “looks” or “images” “Of the withdrawal itself testify about the USA and its world power, and the latter is what I am talking about here.) Just a few months ago, American voters, politicians and opinion journalists almost everywhere believed that leaving the country was the sensible way to go. Now, however, the terrain – or at least the terrain of national commentary – has shifted as the evacuation of Kabul reminded the media in the middle lane of one of the few events in American history after WWII that they collectively internalized, namely the Fall of Saigon to North Vietnamese forces in 1975. (The others are the resignation of Nixon, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and 9/11 – basically the most exciting things on television.)
“After seven months in which his administration seemed to be broadcasting the much-needed expertise … everything about America’s last days in Afghanistan has destroyed the images.”
~ @SangerNYT https://t.co/Z9DX9O0Gs8
– Ron Fournier (@ron_fournier) August 16, 2021
From the admittedly compelling image of the last helicopter taking off from the roof of the US embassy in Saigon, this section of the press seems to have learned the lesson that the United States should have expanded its military engagement in Vietnam. These writers might not put it that way, knowing that Vietnam was a “swamp” where unfortunate things happened while “All Along the Watchtower” played on speakers attached to the outside of a helicopter, but it is the logical endpoint of the analogy: that Biden screwed it up by ending the war because he associated him with images that might make Americans sad about “losing”.
Perhaps the most perverse example of this perverse idea – that a global audience meeting images of American defeat is a more alarming news event than actual Americans who continue to die and kill others indefinitely – was released in the Atlantic this week. In the play, the author Yascha Mounk (a former Slate author) writes argues that the withdrawal was a mistake because the US public will regret its connotations of “American weakness” and “will likely harshly condemn Biden for the scenes of national humiliation”. Americans, Mounk claims, re-projecting his argument onto an empirically shaky claim about what US citizens are “likely” to “harshly” judge homeland. “(He writes elsewhere that photos of the Kabul retreat would” likely become iconic “) to prevent the public from likely drawing such destructively atavistic and nationalistic conclusions!)
Readers who are only temporarily familiar with the story of the 20th, given that Mounk’s goal as a public crusader is to prevent fascists from taking power, it may seem strange that he should actually advocate dragging a Hitler here, but he claims this is necessary to the rise of basically a super-Hitler in 2024. “Designed to weaken the hands of populists like Donald Trump,” he says, Biden’s choice of retreat over endless bloodshed will be “only you.” Make resurgence more likely ”. American strength must be projected abroad through violence, he says, so that Trump does not come to power with a promise to “restore American strength”.
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While claiming that he is not advocating the “misguided military adventures that have tarnished the country’s reputation over the past few decades,” Mounk concludes that the US “should have continued to do something to ensure that the Taliban did not leave all of Afghanistan.” take”. “Which is, confusingly, a good description of the permanently vague and inevitably permanent mission that he described as” misguided “at the beginning of the same paragraph. The ultimate goal of all of this, in any event, is to maintain support for what he calls America’s leadership of the “liberal international order.” The liberal international order is supposedly about the spread of human rights and prosperity. So what Mounk is saying – and admittedly it took me 36 hours to finally analyze it – is that the US must quench its thirst for forcibly established national superiority by continuing to knock down an essentially random country that has obviously failed to introduce human rights and prosperity to preserve his future ability to act according to humanistic values to spread prosperity.
To put it so that the endless repetition of the same historical references would understand the media, Mounk seems to be suggesting that we destroy the village in order to save it. And although one might think that the quote is notorious because it is so obviously untenable, what we have really learned about our country in the past two weeks is that there is no historical lesson that is so clear that it cannot be repeated over and over again to be forgotten.