As Afghanistan collapses, I see a few myths taking root. I'd like to respond to some of them.
"Our presence was unsustainable."

The US presence was tiny, affordable, and low-risk. Few US soldiers were in harm's way. There was no significant antiwar movement at home. The $$ is way lower than the 2010 peak.
"US casualties were low because of the 2020 deal. If we reneged on the deal, the Taliban would start attacking us again."

US KIA have been low since 2014, averaging 1 per month for the last 6-7 years. I mourn for the individual soldiers, but I also have historical perspective
"Afghanistan was a distraction from great power competition (GPC) with Russia and China."

In terms of troops, weapons systems, and resources, what we use in Afg. (CT and special ops) is different from what we need for GPC (tanks, ships, nukes). They're not in competition.
In terms of time, attention, and energy, Afg. isn't a distraction from GPC, it is GPC. We lose and leave, Russia and China gain influence across South/Central Asia. We stay, we keep a platform of access to the whole region.
"That the Afghans are collapsing so fast now means it was always a failure and would never succeed."

You underestimate the morale-crippling effects of the US rapid withdrawal. Till now Afghans could reasonably bank on a future w/ our help. No more. That explains the collapse.
"It wasn't going to succeed no matter how long we stayed."

That is a convenient ex post facto justification that washes our hands of responsibility by acting as if we had no real agency in the situation. We are making a choice to stop trying. Don't pretend that was inevitable.
"We screwed up the past 20 years. Time to go."

Yes we screwed up. I conclude that instead of leaving, we should stay and do better.
"We won, bin Laden is dead and AQ is a shell. Whatever else we're doing isn't worth it. Why stay?"

Because they or their copycats will come back. Witness ISIS after the Iraq withdrawal, or the Taliban today. Jihadists are still out there and very much want to kill us.
"They have to take responsibility for their own country."

True. But you can't expect a drowning man to suddenly know how to swim while you reel in the life preserver he'd been clinging to.
"We can't stay there forever. This is the longest war in American history!"

We can't stay there forever, but neither can we put timetables on the future.

And the only thing that will last longer that the war is our need to defend ourselves from terrorists.
"We can strike al-Qaida and ISIS without a ground presence in Afghanistan."

Afghanistan is landlocked. Good luck getting overflight rights from Iran or Pakistan for your drones and airstrikes.
"We had no strategy and we got sucked into nation building which wasn't the original mission."

This is another way of saying that you didn't follow the war very closely and do not understand what is going on.…

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More from @PaulDMiller2

9 Aug
The idea that "I can do whatever I want to without regard for the consequences to others" is how a 5-year-old thinks about freedom. It isn't a serious approach to public policy.
Ironically, the right used to criticize the left for parroting this kind of freedom. They would accuse the left of advocating total individual autonomy with no thought for broader social responsibilities. Now the shoe is on the other foot.
The idea that we should refuse to cooperate with commonsense public health measures *in the name of freedom* is irresponsible and, literally, juvenile. The founders would not have recognized the kind of "freedom" described here.
Read 7 tweets
20 May
Ok, I have another take on the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Considering I recently wrote a book on just war, I should say something about the moral aspect of the conflict.…
Hamas is a terrorist organization that deliberately murders civilians and says it wants to destroy Israel.

Verdict: unjust, **no matter what you think of the Palestinians' cause**.

This isn't hard, people.
If you sympathize with the Palestinians, you should hate Hamas. Hamas is the greatest enemy of the Palestinians. It hijacked Palestinian autonomy for its jihadist ideology and made it essentially impossible to support Gaza without being complicit with terrorism.
Read 11 tweets
19 May
There's a lot of conversation among evangelicals about manhood and womanhood. What strikes me is how little of the conversation is rooted in anything the Bible says--because the Bible does not say much about what it means to be a man *in distinction to being a woman* & vice versa
There's a culture of machismo in some corners of evangelicalism that dresses up "traditional" (1950s) masculinity as "Biblical": Men must be physically strong, assertive leaders, breadwinners, protectors, etc. Go read @kkdumez book.
Thing is, all these notions of "traditional" masculinity mostly don't come from the Bible; they come from culture and biology. Testosterone makes muscles grow and tends to incline people to stronger feelings of aggression, competition, and drive. These traits get called "manly."
Read 10 tweets
16 May
Jesus movies generally don't work. Growing up I watched Franco Zeffirelli's "Jesus of Nazareth," (1977) and the old-Hollywood big-budget "King of Kings" (1961). Never thought very highly of them. They make Jesus look stoned or boring.
There's a real challenge presenting Jesus in a dramatic narrative. It's hard to give him a character arc. Arcs depend on overcoming weakness, flaw, or failure. See also: Paradise Lost. God shows up and turns the tide of battle without effort. It's not dramatically satisfying.
So years ago I remarked to a friend that the real way to make a Jesus movie was to make the movie about Peter. Peter works better as a main character because he is us: relatably flawed, entirely and only human, and sometime a little dumb.
Read 8 tweets
9 Jan
"You're not allowed to condemn one bad thing unless you condemn all bad things in the order and with the intensity I prefer," is another bad take.
I've seen a lot of "If you didn't condemn the riots last summer, I don't want to hear about the Capitol riot." For the record, I did condemn the riots (and the police brutality) last summer. But so what if I didn't? So what if we choose different battles to fight?
I used to get upset when people didn't care about my pet issue--the war in Afghanistan--as much as I did. It took me years to make peace with the fact that most of you don't care and never will, even though it is literally a matter of life and death. It still hurts a little, tbh.
Read 4 tweets
9 Jan
When I studied terrorism in South Asia, I ran across a lot of literature on "de-radicalization." One thing I recall is that de-rad program were most successful when they were locally driven and involved religious leaders. In other words....
Imams who didn't believe in terrorism were the best at teaching young men to not be terrorists. They taught a version of Islam that did not lead to violence. These programs worked better than government-run programs or attempts at "modernization" whatever that is. That means....
Applying that insight to today: Christian pastors have a special responsibility and burden. They have a unique role in "de-radicalizing" the people in their pews. They need to teach the difference between Christianity and Christian nationalism.
Read 8 tweets

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