Part of the American response to 9/11 was emotionally driven, defensive but deeply focused. Practical, even: That horrible attack left a scar, and at the time, it hurt bad enough to know it would leave a scar. More scars might be coming.
The lawless FATA region in Northwest Pakistan, and Afghanistan under the Taliban, were harboring globally acting Al Qaeda terrorists, who’d planned and carried out the 9/11 attack. They had training camps to prepare and plot their next moves.
Afghanistan also has some strategic importance relative to Pakistan, Pakistan and India, and China (Belt and Road), to name a few. But, largely, it was about hunting down the bastards who did the deed.
Afghanistan is deeply poor, deeply backwards relative to the West, and deeply divided geographically and culturally. Pakistan and their ISI played American interests from the start (given their interests, I wouldn’t expect too much more).
Not long after invading Afghanistan, our American political leadership directed American military resources to Iraq. The mission of keeping the coalition in Afghanistan together lost a lot of focus and resources. Semi-occupation also required all kinds of misapplied military protectionism, and ridiculous rules.
From the child-buggery, to working as poppy protection, to seeing some of the dysfunction and brutality up close, our servicemen saw a lot of shit. This is where my primary loyalty lies.
So, we can’t really hold Afghanistan together and it may become costly, indeed, to again have the Taliban keeping Afghanistan together at some point in the future.
As for here at home: The cultural tides of equality at high prices, putting so many carts before so many horses, checking all the diversity boxes…now affects a lot of American military decision-making.
We might not be done with failure, here.
Just to cheer you up.
A pretty worst case: Using the Platonic model from The Republic, there really aren’t that many models of governance in human affairs, or perhaps, the more things change, the more they stay the same:
(Timarchy (military honor is the highest good)–>decay into Oligarchy (the City’s coffers and wealth are the highest good)–>decay into Democracy (freedom is the highest good as the Demos come to rule)–>decay into Tyranny and a return to the tyrant’s order as the highest good (the tyrant being the worst master of his passions).
Rinse and repeat.
I look around and see people, with good reasons, convinced our leadership deserves little to no authority (once much of the trust and competence is gone, leaving institutional strivers and pole-climbers…it’s tough to make the case).
So many emperors, so little clothing.
I doubt I could do much better.
Alas, Dear Reader, everyone takes the limits of their field of vision for the limits of the world.
Help me see anew.
Benjamin Jowett’s translation of Plato’s Republic can be found here.
The classical liberal tradition…looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”… From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’…Looking to supplant religion as moral source for the laws: From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum.… Repost: Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England”