Black, Bennett, Hanson: America and a tale of two wars – one in Afghanistan and one at home

Even more important than the war in Afghanistan is the war on the home front against the woke mania

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President Biden is needlessly gambling with the survival of any non-Taliban regime in Afghanistan. The three of us agree on that. 

While it is correct that the United States really doesn't care how Afghanistan is governed as long as it doesn’t back-slide into a terrorist breeding ground or the scene of genocidal atrocities like Rwanda or Kampuchea, this is still an unsatisfactory end of the American and Allied commitment in Afghanistan: 20 years and over $1 trillion and approximately 23,000 casualties including over 2,300 dead. 

In 1972, South Vietnam prevailed over the communists with the U.S. providing only heavy air support, a model that was successfully replicated in the destruction of ISIS in Iraq and Syria. And it should have been given a better try in Afghanistan. There was no need not to retain enough forces in-country to protect and ensure the efficient operation of the Bagram air facility. 

There seems to be an almost unanimous consensus that the honor of America and the West is at stake in providing sanctuary for the many Afghans who actively helped the Western expeditionary forces. A failure here will be a human tragedy and a credibility disaster for the United States. 

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The British concluded in the 19th century, without occupying much of Afghanistan, that it was not worth the trouble or the cost in personnel and resources to try to add it to the vast British Indian Empire which then extended from Pakistan to Myanmar. 

Conrad Black, historian, writer and former newspaper publisher.

Conrad Black, historian, writer and former newspaper publisher. (Courtesy Conrad Black)

The Russians, after ten years and 15,000 Russian war dead, came to the same conclusion. The United States is now certainly avoiding the Soviet debacle but may be replicating the British. If the Chinese try to run their vaunted " Belt and Road" initiative through Afghanistan, they won’t do any better than the countries that preceded them. Even Alexander the Great confined himself mostly to the valleys, passed through the country twice, took a wife, (one of several), and departed.  

More important than the Afghan war is the war on the home front against the woke mania. We all agree that the great drive across America to replace school boards who have caved to the teachers’ unions and tolerated subversive education is the cutting-edge of the only possible, but altogether likely rejection of the present wave of woke national self-reproach and even self-hate. 

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This grassroots and common-sense pushback is the strength that de Tocqueville perceived in Americans. Even though the media and the Academy are almost entirely within the hands of the ideological enemies of the traditional American system, public opinion continues by a sizable majority to defend those traditional values, and the revolts against the woke school boards appear to be the beginning of the benign reaction to the lawlessness and Americophobia that has gripped the media and schools and universities and is now oozing through the U.S. armed forces. 

The public has been aroused, and once stirred, it is irresistible. 

We expect a counter-revolution to sweep from the bottom upwards reacting to the anti-democratic left, inflation, soaring violent crime, a president who at times seems challenged and confused, and open southern borders. 

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The media will roll over like poodles when the current woke fad wanes, and the academicians, who birthed it, will no more be able to resist a pincers between the opposition of the students and the parents and benefactors than their predecessors resisted the student activists of the 60’s and 70’s.  

All polls and all common sense show that the great majority of Americans wants elections that faithfully reflect the wishes of the voters, a completely non-political military and intelligence leadership, a much braver and more competent and balanced media, and a much less opinionated and monotonous entertainment and sports community. 

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This resurgent national sentiment will be asserted and will be irresistible. 

It is a sobering time when the leader of a slothful teachers’ union and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are defending critical race theory in almost identical terms.   

Fox News contributors Bill Bennett, Victor Davis Hanson and historian and writer Conrad Black are co-hosts of the podcast "Scholars & Sense." Join them as they discuss the issues of the day, going beyond the noise and talking points to get to the heart of the matter.

Dr. William J. Bennett is a Fox News contributor and former United States secretary of education (1985-1988) and director of the National Office of Drug Control Policy. He is one of America’s most influential and respected voices on cultural, political, and educational issues. His latest book is a single-edition volume of his acclaimed trilogy, "America: The Last Best Hope (One-Volume Edition)" Thomas Nelson; One Volume ed. edition (October 22, 2019) which tells the inspiring narrative of our exceptional nation.

Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness. He is the author of more than two dozen books, ranging in topics from ancient Greece to modern America. He lives in Selma, California. 

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