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“America First.”  That clearly is President Biden’s policy priority in ending two decades of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. 

“America First.” Should Biden start printing up campaign caps and t-shirts? That would make some folks crazy, wouldn’t it?

“Joe Biden’s ‘America First’ Rally, Tonight in D.C.!”  It would have to be a virtual rally, of course, in the interest of public health. Or maybe organizers could mandate masks, all emblazoned with “America First.” That would be funnier than Ted Lasso.

But sadly, there’s nothing funny about what’s going on, and what’s going to go on, in Afghanistan. Yes, the pace of evacuations has risen to “warp speed.”  (That term might make some folks crazy, too, right?) But Biden’s decision not to extend the August 31 deadline for U.S. withdrawal inevitably means thousands of our Afghan friends and their families will be slaughtered. Inevitably. Hey, just collateral damage, right? “America First.”

“America First.”  That approach was evident even in the way Biden ordered and structured his remarks to the nation Tuesday afternoon.  Yeah, he got around to Afghanistan, but only after he first touted the advancement of his $3.5 trillion social spending budget structure in the House.

“America First.”

Then he turned toward Afghanistan, and turned away from the truth. “We continue to be on track to accomplish our mission,” he said.  False. Not if our mission includes saving the lives of thousands of Afghans we had promised to protect. And that is, or at least was, a major component of that mission.

Here’s what remains true. “The Taliban are calling the shots, and there’s nothing we can do.”  That assessment is from American intelligence analyst Robert Baer. “Nothing we can do.” The United States should never find itself in a position of strategic impotence.

The president is not wrong about everything. He’s right to insist on an American exit. He’s right when he says he will not send Americans to die in senseless foreign wars. He’s right when he says he will focus tightly on tangible threats to American security. He’s right when he says we have to get out of the “nation building” business. 

Did anyone really think Afghanistan was ever going to be anything other than Afghanistan?

But keeping our promises is part of maintaining American interests and security.

“America First”?  Here’s my view of “America First.” It’s the simplistic, sophomoric province of little minds, whether it’s printed on a red t-shirt or a blue one.  We’re very good at “simplistic” these days.

“America First” cannot rationally always mean “America Only.”

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Paul's Bio

I clearly have the attention span of your median fruit fly.Look! Airplane!

Sorry. I’m back.

It’s both a curse and a blessing. I’ve never bought this stuff about, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” But I do think that a wide range of life experiences helps us grow as people, and helps us better relate to other people. I’ve been fortunate. And I am beyond grateful.

I show up on time. I go like hell. I’m a good listener. I hold myself accountable. I own my mistakes. And I have a natural and an insatiable curiosity. I’m never afraid to say, “I don’t know,” when I don’t. But then I try to find out.

The flip side is I’m a lousy ballroom dancer and my clothes sometimes fit me funny.

Stuff matters to me. I care. But while I take that stuff seriously, I try hard to never take myself seriously. As a result, I have sometimes been told, “Paul, it’s hard to tell when you’re serious and when you’re just having some fun. Which is it? Serious or fun?”

My answer is “yes.” But I think that is a legitimate criticism. I promise I’m going to work on that.

This has been the quickest and strangest half-century I’ve ever experienced. During that period, I’ve been afforded amazing opportunities in news and sports journalism across all platforms. I have taught wonderful students at the high school and collegiate level. Always, I learned more from them than they did from me. I’ve been a high school administrator. I spent ten seasons as a high school varsity football coach. I’ve been an advertising executive. I’ve hosted nationally syndicated television entertainment shows. In maybe the biggest honor I ever received, I was selected by NASA to be “Chet The Astronaut” for the “Land The Shuttle” simulator at Space Center Houston. (All I can say there, is “Do as I say, not as I do.” I put that thing in the Everglades more often than not.) Most recently, I just wrapped up a decade as a television news director, during which time our teams distinguished themselves in holding the powerful accountable, achieving both critical and ratings success.

What does all that mean? It means I am profoundly grateful. It also means I’m ready for “next.” So here we are. Radically Rational. It’s an idea I woke up with in 2017. I scribbled “Radically Rational” on a piece of notebook paper and used a magnet to stick it on our refrigerator. I saw it every day, and it just would not leave me alone.

I am second in charge at Radically Rational, LLC. My wife, Jo (also known as BB), is the president. Clearly, I have failed in my attempt to sleep my way to the top of this organization.

I hope you will learn that I’m loyal as a Labrador. But I will admit that this doggie can bite every now and then. My promise to you? I will show up on time. I will go like hell. I will listen to you earnestly and attentively. I will hold myself accountable. I will never be the least bit hesitant to say, “I don’t know,” when I don’t.

But then I’ll try to find out. Let’s do it.