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Political Editors / August 24, 2021

In Brief: National Security and Prosperity Are Not Free

Steadfast dedication to defense is necessary to preserve the peace we all enjoy.

Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor with particular experience in fighting terrorism, says the mission in Afghanistan was far more important than most people perhaps remember. And for Joe Biden to lie about al-Qaida to excuse its end is unconscionable.

It is not an accident that we have not experienced a 9/11-level terrorist attack in the U.S. in 20 years. Effective counterterrorism requires denying jihadist networks safe haven and state sponsorship. That is what we have been doing in Afghanistan for the past seven-plus years. Just as our enemies do not disappear because we weary of them, neither does the mission evaporate.

McCarthy puts our deployment in perspective to make the point:

Even if we pretend that troop presence by itself equals war, which it never has, Afghanistan does not come close to our other “forever wars.” We have about 28,000 troops in South Korea, where there has been a significant U.S. deployment for 70 years. You may have thought the last century’s most significant conflict ended in 1945, but we’ll apparently have to rebrand it “World Forever War II” since, eight decades later, we still have over 50,000 troops in Japan and over 60,000 in Europe (including over 35,000 in Germany alone).

These deployments enable us to project force and collect intelligence in parts of the world that would be far more dangerous, for us and for everyone else, if our troops weren’t there. American life would not be nearly as secure, free, or prosperous without them.

There’s a difference between being the world’s policeman and taking responsibility for our own national security with forward deployments. Moreover, McCarthy says:

President Biden’s claim that we can do effective “over the horizon” counterterrorism in Afghanistan is untenable. His conviction that the catastrophe he has made of America’s retreat somehow proves he was right all along is yet another dimwitted demonstration of why his claim to fame is to have been wrong on just about every major issue in his improbable half-century climb to the pinnacle of our politics.

What he … has deprived the nation of is an honest assessment of what the counterterrorism mission is in Afghanistan and what military resources would be necessary to execute it. With the Taliban installed once again in Kabul, the jihadists back in business, and our government bereft of a plausible plan, we are back in a turn-of-the-century threat environment. Thus are we left to hope, as if hope were a strategy, that this won’t have turn-of-the-century consequences.

Read the whole thing here.

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