Thinking Through Afghanistan Withdrawal on September 11th Anniversary

What shall we learn?

This post will discuss the role of refugee resettlement, compare and contrast the Vietnamese experience from the Afghan one, and offer some perspective on what’s beneath the headlines.

My late grandfather Carl W. Lundquist ran one of the largest Vietnamese resettlement projects after the Vietnam War. Colonel Lundquist was military and most definitely CIA, a revelation pried out from him on his death bed. In his 37 year military career he traveled around the world in civil and military and deep state-ish roles. He worked for E Systems, a CIA contractor later acquired by Raytheon. He majored in Russian in 1950. You get the idea. He died last summer at 95 years old. And I miss him dearly, especially now. I think often about ho the rest of my family prepared me for the roles I’ve since taken on and how my accomplishments are but extensions of theirs — differing in degree, sure, but never in kind. All that we are and all that we might be is hidden in our bloodlines.

My grandfather’s most proud accomplishment was in shepherding the new arrivals. He commanded a civil affairs battalion at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, which was responsible for logistically supporting and resettling more than 30,000 Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees. Decades after the event he recalled how many shoes he needed, which churches were easy to work with and which were not, how to tell a Communist from a farmer, a spy from a school boy.

You can go through a slide show of sort of thing that they had to do to settle thousands upon thousands of Vietnamese.

This was not an exact science, to say the least, and he oftentimes wondered what happened to those people in his care. He let through not a few future criminals and even gang leaders, to his dismay. Immigration isn’t always and everywhere an unalloyed good.

My grandfather’s stories had a profound effect on me and on him. He returned to the subject often and to the camp when he was 90.

Thanks to his experience I was clued in to the role of war and refugees and how the two affect the stability of the world. Migration is becoming a weapon used to destabilize other countries. Only restrictions within country, brought about by facial recognition and genetics, can stop the pull that Western, wealthy society has on tribal, failed ones. At the borders satellites, drones, and facial recognition are the way through.

We should be clear not to dehumanize anyone and to treat refugees with dignity and respect. That’s another lesson I learned from my grandfather: The boat people and their descendants were a constant presence in my childhood. I started companies with their children — Clearview and Traitwell — and I even took one as my date to my high school prom. (Whoops.)

The comparisons between Afghanistan and Vietnam then obviate a reality: Afghanistan, with its cousin marriage and tribalism, has a much lower average IQ than Vietnam. It’s easier to make people into Americans when their IQ is higher.

Professor Amy Chua is right, in other words:

My grandfather and I were very close notwithstanding our political differences. Indeed I’ve seen come around to his point of view on more than a few topics. A lot of things he told me I didn’t understand at the time I do now. Perhaps this is always the way. As I get older I come to see things more clearly than I did when I was younger.

In essence you are trying to sort out friend from foe, so let me be clear, to borrow a phrase of President Obama… Saigon is not Kabul.

The Wikipedia page gives this away. Saigon was a battlefield.

Nor is the Taliban the same Taliban it once was.

Here’s what you shall see.

  • Turks and Qatar as regional players. Turkey was having a defense conference while the Afghanistan events unfolded. Turkey built a wall. Turkey is in NATO. China and Russia won’t play.

  • Replacing the Generals. Incompetence is un-American — my friend Blake Masters reminds us that we don’t tolerate it in football coaches --and here is where Republicans can hold the DOD to account — if they dare think harder than the Liz Cheney-Tom Cotton tomfoolery.

  • Rise of digital tractions to monitor all the cash that was flying around. Obviously a lot of money was stolen both by the locals and by not a few domestics. How much cash are we talking? Quite a lot. Billions. We need to make legible these failed states. That means the use of satellites to monitor vehicles

  • Use of satellites, drones, missiles to monitor key assets and take out threats.

  • End of the binational security state — Israeli interests wanted us bogged down in the Middle East. It isn’t a coincidence that we invaded two countries bordering Iran. Forward operating bases Return of NATO, Five Eyes.

  • End of the UAE, KSA and American alliance. They need to work harder at being better friends. Or are they even friends?

  • Biden is an Atlanticist and reluctant Pacificist (if that’s even a term) but he knows only a fool starts a land war in Asia. A greater fool maintains it.

  • A new Republican Party beginning to emerge. The first touch of this was Matt Gaetz but personal scandal may have ended his chances. Now Blake Masters joins the fray. Not enough to defeat Biden in ‘24 but ‘28 is an eon away and Biden likely won’t have heirs.