Can we export democracy and other commentary

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Intellectual: Can We Export Democracy?

“Should we conclude from” America’s Afghanistan failure “that democracy cannot be exported?” asks Guy Sorman at City Journal. “Japan, India, South Korea, Taiwan and Tunisia demonstrate the contrary. But everything depends on circumstances and local culture.” India’s “local traditions of election and deliberation antedated British colonization. Japan had the rule of law and national feeling. Tunisia is as much Roman as Arab-Muslim.” But “the project of imposing a single central state and national elections” on Afghanistan “was utopian; at most, one might have hoped for a confederation of tribes.” The West shouldn’t “renounce” democracy, “but we must adapt the message of civilization to its recipients and choose the messengers well.”

History lesson: Why the Afghan Army Folded

“America didn’t predict this sudden collapse, but it could have and should have,” though the “war effort” was “undermined from the start by a failure to study Afghan realities,” laments Anatol Lieven at Politico. “Afghan society has been described” as “a ‘permanent conversation.’ Alliances shift, and people, families and tribes make rational calculations based on the risk they face.” Opposing factions “have long negotiated arrangements to stop fighting,” even sometimes trading “soldiers in exchange for safe passage.” Such deals are “critical to understanding why the Afghan army today has collapsed so quickly (and, for the most part, without violence).” For two decades, “US military and intelligence services have generally either not understood or chosen to ignore this dynamic as they sought to paint an optimistic picture of American efforts to build a strong, loyal Afghan army.”

Doctors: COVID ‘Most Likely’ Came From Lab

Citing suspicious activities in Wuhan, China, since the summer of 2019 and questions about the coronavirus’ evolution, ex-Centers for Disease Control and Prevention boss Robert Redfield and Dr. Marc Siegel at The Wall Street Journal conclude the bug “was most likely uncontained in a laboratory” and “escaped unintentionally.” China, they note, blocked the CDC from visiting the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Virus “bat sequences were deleted from the institute’s database.” The lab put out bids for a new ventilation system. And the idea that a “virus comes out of a bat cave and infects humans by the millions” is simply “not biologically plausible.” Given the “global need to know what we are dealing with . . . we need a comprehensive bipartisan investigation” into COVID-19’s origins.

Conservative: Afghanistan Needed an Atatürk

At Spectator World, Daniel McCarthy sneers that “for 20 years, America built a Potemkin village and called it Afghanistan.” The blame for its collapse rests with the whole coterie of people in political office, as well as in “the media, the think tanks and among the parts of the public who are sufficiently moved to have feelings about the plight of Afghanistan but not sufficiently interested to do any serious thinking about it.” To wit, if “there is any hope for liberalism or democracy in such a tribal, sectarian, stateless place, it would require a brutal autocrat prepared to re-found the entire society, breaking blood ties and replacing religion with a new creed” — the kind of thing Atatürk had to pull off in Turkey at the turn of the last century, though even he “had much more promising material to work with.”

Foreign desk: Biden’s Monumental Fail

“Few American presidents have had their blunders so spectacularly validated in real time as Joe Biden in Afghanistan,” charges the USA ­Today editorial board. Last month, the president pooh-poohed the possibility of the Taliban sweeping Afghanistan, only for Taliban militants to enter “Kabul Sunday, demanding unconditional surrender after wresting nearly the entire country from government control in a matter of weeks. . . . And behind the broad news of bedlam were voices of thousands reduced to living in abject fear with the Taliban’s arrival; many if not most of them women, who face a crushing and uncertain future of subjugation under a famously misogynistic regime.” And Team Biden was left shocked and helpless, with nothing to offer but “damage control.”

— Compiled by The Post Editorial Board

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