Crisis of confidence. Crisis of competence.
We clearly don’t know who we are anymore. And we clearly don’t know how to make cornbread. We have a brand new “Spirit of ’76.” On Saturday we observed VJ Day, marking the end of WW II. August 14, 1945. Seventy-six years ago. It has been more than seven and a half decades since the United States won an armed conflict and made it stick.
And we’re still reading our press clippings, even as our global standing declines and our national psyche erodes. We’ve been so obsessed with selling American style democracy abroad that we have sold ourselves out at home and thrown our souls into the deal. Trying to make other people into “us”? There is no “us.” And the world knows it.
What do our foreign adversaries and the COVID-19 virus have in common? Both operate with the confidence that all they have to do is wait us out and watch us crumble. They adapt and mutate, while we stagnate and disintegrate.
Once again, we have displayed how badly we can bungle getting out of ill-advised, unwinnable conflicts. And once again, historians will be baffled by how little thought we give to getting into these Groundhog Day quagmires in the first place.
Twenty years. More than 4,000 American lives lost, including civilian contractors. More than 20,000 military personnel wounded. A trillion dollars.
“The Spirit of ‘76” lives on.
Yes. We had to get out. Our current president and his predecessor agreed about that, along with more than 80 percent of the American public. And whenever we finally left—earlier, now or later—the Taliban would inevitably fill the vacuum, as the Afghan troops we trained laid down their arms and the Afghan president caught the last train for the Coast. At some point, an American president was going to have to have the courage to, dare I say, “bite the bullet.”
But both on interstate highways and at Broadway plays, exits matter. Biden botched this one.
That was ugly. And inexcusable.
And completely predictable.
A crisis of confidence. A crisis of competence.