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Victor Davis Hanson speaks on Afghanistan with­drawal 
Courtesy | Eliz­abeth Troutman 

Amer­icans should not have been left behind in the Afghanistan exit, according to Victor Davis Hanson at an event hosted by the Alexander Hamilton Society on Wednesday. 

Hanson said that while 65% of Amer­icans wanted to leave Afghanistan, about 70% are unhappy about the way it happened.

Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Insti­tution at Stanford Uni­versity, a mil­itary his­torian, and a vis­iting pro­fessor at Hillsdale College. He said that former Pres­ident Donald Trump’s election revealed how Amer­icans felt about the Middle East. 

“Donald Trump gets elected on the idea that these optional wars in the Middle East in a cost and benefit analysis don’t reflect our real interest,” Hanson said. 

He said that Trump earned a rep­u­tation of deter­rence in the Middle East during his term by killing ISIS leaders Qasem Soleimani and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. However, when Pres­ident Joe Biden was elected, he made it clear that the mil­itary con­di­tions enforced by the Trump admin­is­tration would not remain. 

Hanson said one of the reasons Biden’s Afghanistan exit failed was the agenda of the left in the upper levels of the military. 

“In the mil­itary, whether we like it or not, the top one to four star levels have become woke,” he said. 

Hanson added that the people now feel America will not protect its allies. As a result of America’s chaotic with­drawal, other nations are now taking risks they would not have otherwise.

Thomas West, pro­fessor of pol­itics at the Van Andel Graduate School of States­manship and co-host of the event, said the with­drawful is a pos­itive good. Both former Pres­ident Barack Obama and Trump had wanted to exit the nation-state, but were unable to withdraw due to national security staff opposition.

“The great achievement was getting out,” West said.

West said the U.S. mil­itary should have seen the Afghanistan engagement as a punitive expedition.

“What hap­pened in Afghanistan, in a nut­shell, was that, in the name of freedom, we created the Afghan gov­ernment and installed it and turned it into klep­tocracy,” West added. 

Hanson said that due to our limited resources, we must have limited scope of foreign affairs. 

“Trump under­stood that the more that you try to defend every­thing and every cause, the less you defend any cause,” he said, “and we have a spe­cific interest in pre­serving Western and West­ernized gov­ern­ments and way of life in Europe and coun­tries like Japan and South Korea.”

“Trump also under­stood there is a way to be deterrent, or what Tom called ‘punitive,’ without getting bogged down,” Hanson said. 

America has 180 mil­itary bases around the world, and spends $200 billion of the $800 billion budget on them, notwith­standing the 220,000 troops in the U.S., Hanson said. 

Hanson said that there is no jus­ti­fi­cation for an exit which resulted in leaving Amer­icans behind overseas. He esti­mated that 500 Amer­icans remain in Afghanistan. 

“Over a six or eight month period…you could have found all the Amer­icans,” he said. “Now we are con­fronted with a sit­u­ation that was not inevitable.”

Junior Quin Coulhour, AHS trea­surer, thought the event was a great start to the year. 

“I think it was fan­tastic to have two pro­fessors, not just Victor Davis Hanson, but also Dr. West, come in so we could have some alter­native views on the issues,” he said. “I thought there was a pretty good diversity of opinions expressed within the audience during the Q&A with a lot of pro­fessors and ex-military.” 

“I was espe­cially impressed with the atten­dance, which set a new AHS record at over a hundred,” junior and AHS Pres­ident Andrew Davidson said. “Victor Davis Hanson has earned his rep­u­tation as a world-class mil­itary his­torian, and I loved getting to hear his suc­cinct summary of the Afghanistan debacle.”