I just got a long message from a man who's angry - and understandably - about AFG, but if he's out there reading, I'll just say: I agree with you and you don't even realize it.
The fall of Kabul is turning into a Rorschach test and explains a lot about our national madness.
No one really knows what I think about whether we should have stayed or left. So I'll tell you. My answer, for years, was: Stay and be serious about it and don't try to do it on the cheap. But if we won't commit and we're just guarding posts, then leave and accept the risk. /2
"Be serious" about it means, for one thing, decide if you really want to try to modernize a nation like AFG. If you want to go full Marshall Plan, do it. But don't keep infusing cash into black holes and then report all is well. That's not a strategy. /3
Anyway, the more important point is that we are nationally incoherent about this. Citizens are enraged not by any one policy - well, some of the folks who know what's about to happen are - but by who they think is getting credit and who benefits. This is nuts. /4
The gentleman who left a message was scathing, but polite (strangely), but he assumed that because I don't like Kristi Noem I therefore back everything Biden's doing and always did. And some folks on the left think my concerns are just neocon righty "stay at all costs" stuff. /5
This - THIS - is why Biden had to pull us out. We cannot make policy in a country of enraged partisans who will take positions based on where they think the other guys *are not* standing. That kind of deranged partisanship is not worth one soldier's life. /6
We long ago lost the national will for the mission - or even to *pick* a mission - in AFG. Based on that, I support leaving. But my preference was to stay. We don't leave places (like NATO and Korea) where we've paid a high price. That's my feeling. But not like this. /7
But again, there is no chance of a national debate about this. We are not a serious people. We do not hold consistent preferences and we are not willing to think about costs and risks. We don't even realize when we might be in *agreement* enough to support a policy. /8
And this is why I'm saying that the collapse of Kabul is on us as a nation. On a country that wouldn't be serious and think about hard choices long before today. More tomorrow in @TheAtlantic. /9x

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More from @RadioFreeTom

15 Sep
Here's what I think - so far - about the Milley business.
- Calls for him to resign are stupid.
- Calls to fire him are stupid.
- The call to China was a *good* thing
- It's a legit question about whether he was preemptively countermanding possible orders from the CINC.

Bad-faith calls from craven opportunists like Rubio mean nothing. And no CJCS has ever had to deal with a mentally ill president who was actively trying to overthrow the constitutional order. But before we cheer any of this, let's remember that everything becomes precedent.
Milley, I think, was trying to steady the ship in case Trump called in some more junior guy and said "Get me Xi on the phone and bring the football." But you don't want it to become a thing where CJCS can say "ignore POTUS orders unless you clear with me." That's dangerous. /3
Read 5 tweets
12 Sep
Few people can write with the same kind of spiritual awareness and kindness of spirit @DavidAFrench brings here. And yet, I am part of the "empathy crisis" he describes. In fact, I am worse: I am past judgment and anger. I have reached indifference, and this, I know, is a sin. /1
@DavidAFrench I feel this enough that I have discussed it with my clergyman. But I also cannot make myself feel something that I cannot feel. I do not gloat or sneer at the deaths of others. What worries me, now, is that these stories have little impact on me. And I am not alone in this. /2
Months of being told "leave me alone" have led me, finally, to cease arguing. I am respecting other adults and fellow citizens in their choices. Yes, I am angry that their choices produce costs on the rest of us, to be sure. But for their illnesses, I am struggling to feel. /3
Read 5 tweets
31 Aug
So, this is a mini-thread about military professors and that disclaimer that some of you heard from Chris Jansing (thank you, @11thHour) about my views being my own. This is a quirky requirement that occurs because Professional Military Ed professors (PME) are USG employees. /1
I am not representing the policy of the Naval War College or any military school here, and none of this will really matter for me personally when I leave Federal service in the spring, but it's helpful to know when you see my PME colleagues in the public space. /2
PME institutions are accredited schools that give accredited degrees. Their civilian faculty, accordingly, must have academic freedom to speak their mind as part of being faculty at actual educational institutions. (Also, they are citizens who have the right to speak!) /3
Read 13 tweets
30 Aug
I have a piece of advice for Democrats going to the wall for the "Biden did this perfectly" argument.
I know you're concerned that this is going to be used by the GOP as fodder. But listen: Stop worrying about what the GOP thinks.
Be the adults, as much as you might hate it.
Fearing to criticize Biden because you think the GOP will seize on it is playing *their* game and letting them bully you into being as extreme as they are. They *want* you to go full-on defensive, because you'll be stung later in hearings and other revelations. /2
Biden could preside over a Taliban surrender on the deck of a battleship and the GOP and FOX would portray it as some kind of socialist plot. Just ignore them. Act like the governing party you want to be: Tough, committed to your policies, willing to own mistakes, resolute. /3
Read 5 tweets
22 Aug
I had to deal with that "use water from the tub" thing during Hurricane Bob in 1991. And since I'm putting off more cleaning up, I have a mildly amusing Hurricane Bob story. *old grandpa voice*
So, it was August 1991, and I was in my first teaching gig at the Naval War College. I was single and living in an apartment. I was a young Sovietologist, had just written my first book on Soviet civil-military relations. This is key to the story. /2
I'm sitting there watching CNN and this happens: "We have reports from Moscow that Mikhail Gorbachev has been removed in a coup in Moscow that..."
And the hurricane hit and all the power went off. I was screaming at a dead TV. /3
Read 7 tweets
15 Aug
To avoid today, we would have had to make different decisions at least a decade ago, or more. We didn't. We waved flags and sang along with Lee Greenwood and said "Make sure whatever that thing is over there doesn't annoy us too much." /1
So, our political leaders said "message received," and told the military to "go make sure we're winning or something," and the military saluted smartly and said "okay, by our metrics, we're doing fine." And that kept the peace... at home. /2
We could have made a lot of other choices: Stay and be serious about staying for a *long* time, or leave with a warning about not making us come back.
But instead we did the flag and singing stuff. /3
Read 6 tweets

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