President Joe Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan has been an unmitigated disaster — a fact even the legacy media have accepted as the spotlight falls heavily on the Biden administration.

With Biden emerging from hiding in Camp David and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki taking the worst-timed vacation in history, the blame is falling squarely at the feet of the Democratic Party for the humanitarian nightmare unfolding in Afghanistan — as it should.

But there is a wider question here, beyond the demonstrable ineptitude of Biden’s foreign policy: why did this happen?

Many have pointed out that such events were inevitable. I am one of them. Many have pointed out that withdrawal was a policy pushed by both the Trump and Biden administration. I am one of them. Many have argued that the inevitable nature outcome of this “bi-partisan” policy means that while we can criticize how this withdrawal was carried out, the underlying goal was sound. I am not one of them.

The central problem when it comes to Afghanistan is that too many people — many of them conservatives — are misrepresenting both the reality of human nature and the range of choices we face in the context of this reality.

“We never should have been there in the first place.” “They should defend themselves.” “We’re not an imperial force.” “Interventionists are wrong.” “This was always going to happen when we left.”

These views — and many others — are based on the false premise that we were facing a choice between withdrawing now and withdrawing later, built on the false assumption that the war in Afghanistan was wrong in the first place.

Whether made through ignorance, naivety, or cynicism, these views are incorrect.

First, the War in Afghanistan was a correct decision. In 2001, we were attacked by terrorists harbored and protected by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Regardless of whether you believe the subsequent military actions or strategies were effective or necessary, the initial decision to strike back was unquestionably valid following 9/11.

Second, the “leave now or leave later” proposition is a false binary. There is another choice being ignored: don’t withdraw. Instead, maintain a long-term specialized military force in any and all regions in which the undermining of terrorist activity protects U.S. civilians.

Finally, the very metrics of success are incorrectly understood by most when it comes to Afghanistan. To be fair, this is largely the fault of political leaders who presented the conflict as one with an “end-point” objective of achieving a nation-building installation of democracy in a part of the world in which democracy will never exist. Instead, the goal should be to prevent the radical ideology of parts of Afghanistan from landing on our front doorstep. If we can prevent evil from spreading while we’re there, and give the innocent victims of the Taliban regime a fighting chance to live in some semblance of peace, then all the better.

Right now, the only mainstream alternative being pushed is a belief that we can withdraw from Afghanistan and safely retreat behind our metaphorical borders, without facing any subsequent consequences.

Such belief is folly.

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