How America Failed Our Soldiers

By Peter Wolfgang Published on November 11, 2021

Former national security advisor Gen. H.R. McMaster and just retired World magazine editor Mindy Belz seem to be saying the same thing. McMaster says it in his Wall Street Journal article and Belz in an interview. That is, George W. Bush is the only good President of the 21st century in the matter of Afghanistan. Obama, Trump and Biden all broke faith by wanting to exit prematurely.

I disagree.

What Specialists Know

I come at my disagreement with this by way of analogy. Remember the nice way Tucker Carlson disagreed with Dr. Fauci’s recommendations in the early days of the pandemic? There’s nothing wrong with Fauci’s recommendations per se, Tucker argued. The problem is that Fauci is a specialist. He only knows his field. It’s not his job to see the big picture, to see the ill effects that governmental overreaction might have on society as a whole. That is the president’s job.

Likewise, McMaster is a specialist. Belz is a specialist. He knows the military. She knows the Middle East, on which she reported well for many years. World was often the only place that presented the facts on our persecuted brethren, and Uncle Sam’s failure to do more.

I share Belz’s pleasure that Afghan women had better lives thanks to American military intervention and her disappointment that they will lose their freedom as the Taliban reasserts its power. I agree with McMaster that if the USA goes to war, we ought to actually mean it. It is breaking faith with our warrior class not to see things through to a clear conclusion. I especially agree that our military ought not be turned into a petri dish for the experiments of the woke.

But that last thing is key. It’s the part that Belz and McMaster miss. Belz’s view is shaped by her many trips to the Middle East. McMaster is focused on the institution to which he has given his life.

Neither of them are thinking about the country as a whole. But while the Afghanistan adventure has dragged on and on, our country has gone to pot. That is how we arrived at the point where people could even think about pushing transgenderism, etc., on the U.S. military, much less do it.

The America we have today is not the America we had on October 7th, 2001, the day we initiated hostilities in Afghanistan. The deterioration of our culture since then has been huge.

The Deterioration

Back then, we tried to stop the state from approving same-sex marriage. The country was divided. It wasn’t a done deal. Many Americans not only opposed it but fought it. Those who really wanted it were a minority. 

Who cares about such ancient history today? in a world where a character on the children’s show Blues Clues has scars where her breasts used to be? We are way beyond gay marriage pro or con. Then we fought about whether a man could marry a man and a woman marry a woman. Now we argue about whether a man can be a woman or a woman a man. And that’s a fight most people have given up on.

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I don’t need to rehearse here all the evidence that our culture has gone to pot. But here’s an anecdote that says it all. An editor at the Wall Street Journal once told Sohrab Ahmari that “his ideal vision of freedom was the 82nd Airborne escorting a Pride parade through the streets of Tehran.” (Or Kabul). This in America’s leading conservative newspaper. The same one that published McMaster’s article. 

That is a quick snapshot of the state of our country. And its decadent ruling class.

No, I’m sorry, Gen. McMaster, I’m sorry, Mindy Belz: We were not wrong to leave Afghanistan. Joe Biden was wrong to make such an awful mess of our exit. But we were right to leave.

Our country is turning into a sewer. Reversing the decline needs to be priority number one.

The Real Democratic Values

Otherwise, I don’t know what the government is talking about when it speaks of defending democratic values against authoritarian regimes. What now passes for democratic values? Punishing people of traditional faith and morals? Handing the education of our children to the teacher’s unions and the ed schools? Switching out the Bill of Rights for the Sexual Revolution?

And I don’t know how we expect to police the South China Sea when we can’t even police our own cities. Law and order, a flourishing body politic, one nation under God … that’s not exactly us right now. We’re not one nation. And we certainly don’t conduct ourselves as if we live under God.

I have all the respect in the world for our veterans on this first Veterans Day after the Fall of Kabul. Thank you for your service in this and all our wars.

But we were not wrong to leave Afghanistan. We were wrong to let our own country fall apart while we were there. Letting that happen has been the biggest disservice of all to our vets. And to America. To you and me, and our children, and our children’s children. You can’t create national security by military means for a nation that’s dying.

Peter Wolfgang is president of Family Institute of Connecticut. He lives in Waterbury, Connecticut, with his wife and their seven children. The views expressed on The Stream are solely his own. His previous article was Columbus Wasn’t a Saint, but Columbus-Haters Don’t Really Hate Him. They Hate America.

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