To the editor:
While U.S. intelligence sources failed to judge correctly the strategy and strength of the Taliban, and President Joe Biden erred in trusting their reports and our Afghan allied forces, it was always inevitable that the U.S. mission at nation-building in Afghanistan would fail.
George W. Bush and Barack Obama each failed to grasp that in one degree or another. Donald Trump and Biden were more skeptical of nation-building, but the problem always was how to extricate ourselves honorably.
The people and culture in that region of the world generally aren't ready for democracy. We need look no further than the "Arab Spring" for proof of that. There are some people in the region who want, and are ready for, democracy. But the numbers are relatively few in comparison to the numbers who are culturally amenable to authoritarian government and its long history in that part of the world.
It would take generations of U.S. and Western efforts to change that, and the cost in dollars and lives is unreasonable for us to accept. Besides, doing it forcibly is innately wrong. We can't impose democracy on them, nor police what happens in other countries halfway around the world and "save" the people who live there. The proof is evident; Afghanistan, Iraq, and Vietnam teach us that.
But that doesn't mean we retreat from international relations and become isolationist. The United States must remain actively involved in the world's affairs – just from a wiser perspective.