Analysis of international affairs and current crises
Friday, April 9, 2021
The New Yorker
Why It's So Hard For America to End Its Wars
For millennia, politicians, from Cicero to Winston Churchill and Richard Nixon, have opined about “peace with honor” to end military engagements; writers, from Shakespeare and Edmund Burke to A. A. Milne, have waxed eloquent on the challenges. Biden is the fourth President to try to achieve it in the Middle East and South Asia in the twenty-first century. There’s a lot of debate in Washington about what he should do—and whether the U.S. should simply pack up and pull out of the region, which is what it did in Vietnam, in 1973, and in Lebanon, in 1984, under pressure from ragtag militias with vintage weaponry who were better strategists and willing to sacrifice more lives. With the pivot to Asia—a.k.a. China—and American energy independence, why stay longer? From a distance, it’s appealing; from the ground, it’s a more challenging call.
For Biden, his legacy could be either of two extremes—a President who finally extricated America from quagmires in the messy Middle East, or a leader who ceded ground to isis jihadis and the dictatorial Assad regime in Syria, Sunni extremists and well-armed Shiite militias in Iraq, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Not to mention Russia, which now has access to bases on the Mediterranean, in Syria, and in Libya, farther west than it’s ever been. Biden’s legacy will shape America’s legacy, too. Read on....