“THE MULTITUDES remained plunged in ignorance… and their leaders, seeking their votes, did not dare to undeceive them.”
Those are the words of Winston Churchill from his book “The Gathering Storm,” which talks about the growing threat of Nazi Germany. Historian Niall Ferguson shares this quote from the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom because it parallels with America following the Afghan pullout. Ferguson notes that Britain between the wars was tired. It fought in World War One, a financial crisis and the 1918–19 flu pandemic. On top of this the collective security created after World War I started to fray and the intelligentsia saw their nation in purely negative terms. All the, while Germany was rising from the ashes of the First World War and Churchill, could see that Nazi Germany was spoiling to bring war on the continent again. Sound familiar?
History does rhyme and America finds itself in a similar situation. Two wars, a financial crisis, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made us weary and unwilling to help the rest of the world. Our collective security created after World War II is failing. Our intelligentsia thinks the US is not a force for good in the world. Thankfully we don’t have a Nazi Germany to contend with, but China and Russia are competing with the US for influence and at times it doesn’t look like we have the upper hand.
The debate about staying or leaving Afghanistan is over. The debate that remains is figuring out what is the American role in the world. Do we still want to lead and bring some stability in the world or do we want to be Sweden on steroids?
An America that leads doesn’t mean we are going to war in any country. It does mean using an array of tools from diplomacy, intelligence and yes, the military to keep our world stable and keep threats at bay. America and her people want to turn away from the troubles of the world and knowing what we have gone through in the last two decades it’s hard to blame them. But an America that walks away from its commitments is a nation that might one day find itself in a crisis with a foreign power and will face it without its erstwhile allies. It’s also important to remember that even though we are separated from a good chunk of the world by…