Afghanistan in retrospect

Yesterday the Hoover Institution posted Peter Robinson’s Uncommon Knowledge episode A Lost War: A Conversation with Victor Davis Hanson and H. R. McMaster on Afghanistan’s Past, Present, and Future. Victor is the prominent classicist and military historian. He is also our friend. McMaster is a military historian in his own right, a retired Army lieutenant general who served in the Gulf War, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Most recently and most notably in this context, he also served as Trump National Security Advisor (2017-2018).

Hoover provides this tactful summary of the conversation:

In this frank, no-holds-barred conversation, they discuss the United States’ mission in Afghanistan: how it began, how it was conducted, and its ignominious end. McMaster and Hanson debate what worked and what failed, how social issues in the United States may have influenced our mission in Afghanistan and our decision to leave, and whether or not the United States should have continued to maintain a presence instead of leaving in a matter of weeks, abandoning thousands of Afghans loyal to the US mission there (as well as an unknown number of US citizens) after 20 years of military operations in the country.

McMaster almost willfully misconstrues one of Victor’s comments and sets McMaster off at about 28:00. The conversation takes an adversarial turn that heightens its interest. Although it becomes heated, it continues to shed light.

Victor defends our engagement in Afghanistan, but calls out a military that has become politicized among its most senior officers. See also his American Greatness column “The Afghanistanization of America.” Finally, Peter Robinson poses a question I have badly wanted to ask about the failure of senior officers to resign when we (I) might think resignation would be appropriate.

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