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It’s Full of Contradictions

Chris Edwards

Washington is on a spending spree. President Trump approved $3 trillion in pandemic relief last year, and President Biden approved another $1.9 trillion in March. All this spending has gone on the national credit card, which has an accumulated balance of $22 trillion, or $172,000 for every household in the nation.

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Biden is now proposing another $2 trillion in spending, this time for infrastructure. He apparently recognizes that we can’t borrowâ€�​andâ€�​spend forever, so his plan is financed by a massive corporate tax increase rather than debt. Nonetheless, his plan makes no sense because of three major contradictions.

The first is that Biden’s corporate tax increase would undermine America’s infrastructure because most of it is owned by the private sector, such as the broadband network and the electric grid. While Biden would subsidize broadband by $100 billion, the electric grid by $100 billion, manufacturing by $300 billion, and electric vehicles by $174 billion, corporations in those industries would slash their own investment in the face of Biden’s large tax hike. It would be a wasteful circular flow of cash from corporations to Washington in higher taxes, and then back to politically favored corporations in subsidies.

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That raises the second contradiction. During the presidential campaign, Biden said “we do not reward corporations, we reward individuals,� and he complained that Trump’s “strategy is trickle�​down economics that works for corporate executives and Wall Street investors, but not working families.� But Biden’s own plan features trickle�​down corporate subsidies.

All the subsidies would create a third contradiction. Biden’s plan is supposed to help mitigate climate change, but the green way to fund infrastructure is through user charges that restrain consumer demand. Gas taxes restrain automobile use; water charges restrain water use; and airport charges restrain airport use. But Biden’s plan includes large new subsidies for automobiles, water systems, airports, and other facilities — all funded by income taxes, not by proâ€�​environment user charges.

Biden’s infrastructure plan is a bad solution looking for a problem. The private sector is already investing billions of dollars in infrastructure favored by the president, such as electric vehicles, broadband and the electric grid. Many states have raised their own gas taxes in recent years to invest more in highways. The nation does not need a big new spending plan from Washington, especially one funded by infrastructureâ€�​killing corporate tax increases.

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Why We Black Leaders Support Voter ID Laws

America is a country of over 300 million people. We are comprised of every shape, size, nationality, and opinion. This diversity has proven to be one of our greatest strengths.

However, if you listened to largely white liberal media personalities and elite CEOs, you wouldn’t know this. According to liberal orthodoxy, all Blacks think alike, and all Blacks support Black Lives Matter, and all Blacks oppose the recently enacted Georgia Election Integrity Act.

To the contrary, a recent Rasmussen Reports poll found that 69% of Blacks and 82% of nonwhite minorities support voter ID. Another poll taken even more recently by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that a full two-thirds of Blacks in Georgia support voter ID. The data seems clear: A majority of Black Americans support voter ID laws. 

This shouldn’t be surprising. Blacks know the value of the right to vote. We struggled to win that right in a country that for too long treated us as second-class citizens. We shed our blood so we could partake in American elections just like every other American citizen. We want to make sure that sacred right to vote, and the integrity of those elections, are protected.

It’s clear that most Blacks support voter ID, and it’s obvious why we do so.

Why then do opportunistic activists like Stacey Abrams pretend the entire Black community stands behind them and the radical Democrat Party? Why do they pretend that Black people are either opposed to voter ID or, even more offensively, that Blacks are incapable of obtaining IDs? The answer is in part because the elites, most of whom are white, have enabled them, taking it upon themselves to determine who the “leaders” of the Black community are and ignoring anyone else who suggests differently.

These elites are totally oblivious to the real Black leaders, such as civil rights legend Robert Woodson and Richard Finley; younger leaders like Wall Street wizard John Burnett; National Black Chamber of Commerce founders Harry and Kay Alford; Michael Murphy, political operative extraordinaire from Georgia; business and football legend Herschel Walker; Texas state Rep. James White; 21-year-old West Virginia state Rep. Caleb Hanna; former Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer S. Carroll;  former ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission Ken Blackwell; and U.S. Congressmen Byron Donalds and Burgess Owens, to name a few.

What do all these people have in common? They are all Republican, therefore white liberal elites don’t deem them to be Black because they come from a conservative perspective.

If corporate America wants to be truly woke, they must wake up to the fact that activists like Stacey Abrams — and Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton before her — absolutely do not represent the Black community; they represent the membership of their radical activist organizations and the interests of white elites, who are eager to open our borders wide and send more jobs overseas regardless of the effects these disastrous policies have on the Black community. 

To add insult to this patronizing injury, the very same liberal elites who blast voter ID laws that most Blacks support run corporations that practice similar ID policies. If every other ethnicity is required to show an ID to vote, why is the Black race considered incapable of doing so. This notion is absolutely insulting.

You can’t board a plane without an ID. You can’t pick up a package from a UPS distribution center without an ID. You can’t buy alcohol without an ID. And you definitely can’t visit President Biden in the White House without an ID. Is that racist? Of course it isn’t.

We don’t need media-appointed Black leaders chosen for us. We definitely don’t need media-appointed Black leaders who care more about the Democrat Party and radical left-wing policy projects than they do the real needs and opinions of the Black community.

SIGNED,

Burgess Owens
U.S. Representative for Utah’s 4th Congressional District

Robert Woodson
Founder and President, Woodson Center and 1776 Unites

Jennifer S. Carroll
Florida’s 18th Lieutenant Governor

Ken Blackwell
Former Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission

Raynard Jackson
Black Americans for a Better Future

George T. Farrell
Chair, BlakPAC

James Earl Wright
State Representative, Texas

Michael Murphy, GA
GOP political consultant

Raynard Jackson is founder and chairman of Black Americans for a Better Future.

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Black Lives Matter Co-Founder Cashes In on ‘Systemic Racism’

Patrisse Cullors is a co-founder of Blacks Lives Matter. About her background, she said in 2015: “The first thing, I think, is that we actually do have an ideological frame. Myself and Alicia [Garza, BLM co-founder] in particular are trained organizers.” Cullors also said: “We are trained Marxists. We are super-versed on, sort of, ideological theories. And I think that what we really tried to do is build a movement that could be utilized by many, many black folk.”

Cullors, the self-described “trained Marxist,” appears to be doing quite well for herself. Last year, she signed a major Hollywood production deal. Variety reported: “The co-founder of Black Lives Matter has signed her first … overall deal with Warner Bros. Television Group. Characterized as multi-year and wide-ranging, the pact will see Cullors develop and produce original programming across all platforms, including broadcast, cable and streaming.” Her first overall deal? So much for that “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” stuff.

The value of the deal remains undisclosed. But Cullors recently purchased a $1.4 million home in Topanga Canyon, California, with a white population of 88.2% and a Black population of 0.4%, according to the 2010 census. Not exactly the ‘hood.

About Cullors new home, a celebrity real estate website writes: “A winding 15-minute drive from The Commons at Calabasas and a slightly longer and somewhat less serpentine drive from Malibu’s Getty Villa, the pint-sized compound spans about one-quarter of an acre. The property’s not-quite 2,400 square feet is divided between the … three-bedroom and two-bath main house and a separate one-bed/one-bath apartment capable of hosting guests long term with a private entry and a living room with kitchenette.” According to public records, this is just one of three homes that Cullors owns in the Los Angeles area.

Cullors may just be getting warmed up. According to the New York Post: “[Cullors] also eyed property in the Bahamas at an ultra-exclusive resort where Justin Timberlake and Tiger Woods both have homes. … Luxury apartments and townhouses at the beachfront Albany resort outside Nassau are priced between $5 million and $20 million, according to a local agent.”

Meanwhile, of the estimated $90 million donated to Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation in 2020, Michael Brown Sr., the father of the man killed by a Ferguson police officer, says he has received just $500 from BLM affiliates. Brown Sr. asked: “Why hasn’t my family’s foundation received any assistance from the movement? How could you leave the families who are helping the community without any funding?”

The Associated Press reported: “The foundation said it committed $21.7 million in grant funding to official and unofficial BLM chapters, as well as 30 Black-led local organizations. It ended 2020 with a balance of more than $60 million. … The foundation’s expenses were approximately $8.4 million — that includes staffing, operating and administrative costs, along with activities such as civic engagement, rapid response and crisis intervention.”

Hawk Newsome, the head of Black Lives Matter Greater New York City — which is not affiliated with Cullors’ BLM Global Network Foundation — now calls “an independent investigation” into the finances of Cullors’ BLM. Newsome said, “If you go around calling yourself a socialist, you have to ask how much of her own personal money is going to charitable causes.”

As for Cullors’ mentor, here is what Karl Marx wrote about private property and the acquisition of wealth: “You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property. But in your existing society, private property is already done away with for nine-tenths of the population; its existence for the few is solely due to its non-existence in the hands of those nine-tenths. You reproach us, therefore, with intending to do away with a form of property, the necessary condition for whose existence is the non-existence of any property for the immense majority of society.

“In one word, you reproach us with intending to do away with your property. Precisely so: that is just what we intend.”

Apparently, Ms. Cullors, the self-described “trained Marxist,” skipped class that day.

COPYRIGHT 2021 LAURENCE A. ELDER

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

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Biden’s Vision: Rebuild Infrastructure, Boost Key U.S. Industries

President Biden’s American Jobs Plan has the potential to transform our economy as we Build Back Better post-pandemic.  In fact, our president has proposed the largest American jobs investment since World War II, which will promote our national security interests and create millions of good-paying manufacturing jobs.

My home state of Indiana has more manufacturing jobs per capita than any other state.  So, when rebuilding America’s infrastructure, it is especially important that we ensure U.S. taxpayer-funded projects are constructed with raw materials such as primary aluminum and steel that are made in America.

Having served on Senate Armed Services Committee, I know first-hand just how important infrastructure is to our national defense.  It is much harder to defend a nation with crumbling roads, an electrical grid that is totally inadequate for the modern age, and an inability to provide secure high-speed Internet to all Americans.  In a modern, vibrant economy, having a first-rate infrastructure is critical to ensuring that America maintains its place as a global leader.  In modernizing, however, we cannot be dependent on foreign nations to supply the critical raw materials and components that will be necessary. The experience of the pandemic has taught us that lesson. American-made primary aluminum and high purity aluminum are essential to building our nation’s defense infrastructure, and provide good-paying jobs for thousands of American workers in Indiana and all across America’s heartland.

The Section 232 program that applied a 10% tariff on foreign aluminum imports, saving America’s remaining aluminum smelters from imminent closure, will also allow us to rebuild our infrastructure. With only six surviving smelters, America has the absolute bare minimum primary aluminum capacity to meet critical infrastructure needs in a national emergency. These are the smelters that will produce the aluminum America needs to Build Back Better and to supply the building blocks necessary for a thriving modern economy. 

Just a few short years ago, the entire industry was on the verge of closure.  Global overcapacity had collapsed prices to the point where every smelter in the United States had announced that it planned to shut down. The Section 232 program put a floor under the industry and is saving the remaining smelters.  But the global overcapacity crisis continues to persist.  America’s competitors did not substantially reduce their excess capacity after the tariffs were put in place.  To the contrary, many producing countries doubled down, providing more subsidies and continued expanding capacity.  Other producing regions, such as the European Union, maintained their own long-standing import tariffs on primary aluminum, diverting even more excess global supply to the United States.      

Now, just when the U.S. needs its aluminum smelters to rebuild America, the whiskey industry is asking the administration to lift the Section 232 tariffs. Doing so in exchange for reducing similar tariffs on whiskey imports into the EU ignores the fact that the whiskey industry’s U.S. sales increased by over $1.2 billion in just the last four years. The resulting $130 million increase in sales revenue for its exports to Europe is simply not worth the damage it would cause to America’s national security.

When the Section 232 program was initiated, the U.S. aluminum industry was on the verge of collapse. American aluminum jobs and our nation’s national defense were at stake. When it comes to helping Indiana families and rebuilding America’s infrastructure, the benefits of the Section 232 program should never be undone to boost the short-term profits of a special interest group that is thriving, while tens of thousands of American manufacturing workers and their families will undoubtedly feel the pain. 

As my friend President Biden remarked in Pittsburgh, “Wall Street didn’t build this country; the great middle class built this country. And unions built the middle class.” We need to create millions more, not less, good-paying union manufacturing jobs in Indiana and across this great nation, like those in the primary aluminum industry.

While our country begins to recover from the pandemic, our trade policies should seek to create and protect American manufacturing jobs. The Section 232 program is saving a vital industry that is critical to the nation’s supply chain, but more needs to be done. President Biden’s once-in-a generation investment in America will help to do more for America’s critical industries such as  aluminum by rebuilding U.S. infrastructure, supporting domestic manufacturing jobs and strengthening U.S. supply chains as we work together to Build Back Better.

Evan Bayh served as a U.S. senator from Indiana from 1999 to 2011 and as the 46th governor of Indiana from 1989 to 1997.

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Meaningless Gun Control Efforts | Cato Institute

Meanwhile, in Chicago during one weekend at the end of February, 27 were shot, 6 fatally. And while we don’t have the full data, it’s very likely that a handgun was used in every instance.

There is no agreed upon definition of “assault weapon,” but proposed bans, like the federal ban from 1994–2004, usually focus on a few cosmetic features of some semi‐​automatic rifles. Whatever the definition, they are still rifles, and rifles are used in comparatively few murders — between 300 and 400 over the last few years, according to data covering from 2015 to 2019. That makes sense as rifles are difficult to conceal and often more expensive. Anyone who fears they may be a target for gun violence or wants to commit violence themselves is much more likely to hide a handgun in a pocket or in his waistband. Consequently, handguns are usually used in around 6,500 homicides per year.

Among homicide victims, more than half are young men, and more than two‐​thirds of those are Black.

But two‐​thirds of gun deaths in this country are suicides, and men kill themselves about three times more often than women and with guns roughly seven times more often. In suicides, while we don’t have comprehensive data, handguns are used far more often than other types, if only because it can be physically difficult to use a long gun on oneself. When it comes to teenagers, while every school shooting with an “assault weapon” is a tragedy, schools are still very safe places for children to be. A student is fourteen more times likely to commit suicide with a gun than be shot at school. 

In short, gun deaths in America are primarily young Black men who are victims of homicides and men between 25–64 who commit suicide. Almost all of this death comes from handguns, yet questions about “assault weapons” and what guns scare Diane Feinstein are pushed to the fore. We debate onerous and nearly impossible to implement “high‐​capacity” magazine restrictions that will have no effect on suicides — it only takes one bullet after all — or crime.

What we tend not to do, however, is discuss policies that will make a meaningful impact in the number of gun deaths in America. And those policy proposals need to look beyond guns. We need to first acknowledge that America is saturated with guns, and that’s not realistically changing soon. If half of all guns in the country were eliminated, we’d still have 150–200 million guns in private hands.

But if we look beyond this performative and ineffective focus on gun laws, there are changes that would dramatically impact gun deaths. First, there is ending the war on drugs, which has failed and been a disaster by every conceivable metric. While ending the drug war wouldn’t end street gangs, it would significantly cut back on their reach and the activities that make them profitable. More importantly, the drug war has devastated inner cities by causing havoc in schools, families, and communities. It will take a long time to recover but stopping the madness of drug prohibition is a necessary first step.

For suicides, unfortunately, crafting effective policies is more difficult. Whereas guns rarely “cause” crime — in the sense that a would‐​be criminal only decides to commit a crime after he acquires a gun — guns can more directly “cause” a suicide. The ready availability of a gun, often mixed with substance abuse, can turn a split‐​second decision into a fatal one.

But suicides are mostly not split‐​second decisions, and in one study  38 percent made a health care visit a week before a suicide attempt and 64 percent made a visit a month before. Some have proposed that doctors should inquire into whether there are guns in the house and possibly report to the authorities. Yet this could dissuade many from seeking help. Finding the balance between helping and scaring away potential gun‐​suicide victims will not be easy. But we do know that offering compassionate help and support is usually the most effective way to avert these tragedies, and for good reason that is where suicide prevention experts and organizations focus their efforts. 

Ultimately, however, if we’re not focusing the homicides of young black men and male suicide, we’re not seriously addressing gun deaths in America. Mass shooters get the attention, but the biggest issues are behind the headlines.

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President Joe Biden Set for Summit with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga

Tokyo cannot argue that it is overburdened since it devotes less effort to the military than do its Asian neighbors, including even the Philippines. More important, Japan lags far behind its potential adversaries, China and North Korea. Tokyo also devotes a smaller share of its GDP to the military than does almost every European member of NATO. Either Japan faces no serious threats or figures America will handle its security.

If the former, why should the US waste effort and resources on Japan’s defense? If the latter, why should overloaded Americans, who also are paying to protect several other East Asian nations, most of Europe, much of the Middle East and North Africa, and part of Central Asia, do more so Japan can do less? The current relationship makes no sense.

To raise these issues is not to reject mutually beneficial security cooperation between the two nations. However, the seven‐​decade‐​old alliance — it is not and never has been a “mutual” relationship — discourages Tokyo from doing what every serious nation should do, provide for its defense. There were historical reasons why the American commitment and deployment originally operated like the infamous “cap in the bottle” claimed by American Lt. Gen. Harry Stackpole. However, that world has been swept away.

It is now 76 years after World War II, making that conflict as distant from today as it was from the Meiji Restoration. The likelihood of an imperial revival with Japan conquering its neighbors has passed into the realm of fantasy. Once fearful nations like the Philippines now ask Tokyo to do more militarily.

Moreover, regional challenges are increasing. Both North Korea and China raise significant security concerns, but far more to nearby countries and especially Japan than America.

The North has long‐​standing grievances against its onetime colonial masters in Tokyo, which is vulnerable to missile attack. In contrast, Pyongyang’s weapons are only deterrents to the US, since a first strike would result in devastating retaliation. The People’s Republic of China also has historically rooted antagonisms toward Japan. The PRC is arming against America too, but for defense in its own neighborhood. Any conflict would occur thousands of miles from America.

Hence, Japan is at greater risk than the US and capable of doing much more on its own behalf. Tokyo should stop relying on the bankrupt republic a large ocean away.

Japan is well‐​positioned to constrain Chinese aggressiveness. Even its modest military efforts have yielded a sizable and modern force. Despite having a smaller economy overall, Tokyo remains far wealthier than the PRC and diverts far less funds to internal security, i.e., repression, allowing Japan to spend substantially more than present on its armed forces. As an archipelago with no land borders Japan also is in a better strategic position than China. In contrast, the PRC is surrounded by countries with which it has been at war over the last century: India, Korea, Russia, and Vietnam. Tokyo could mimic China and emphasize anti‐​access/​area denial capabilities, which Beijing hopes will deter US military operations nearby.

Moreover, Tokyo could help establish a collaborative network with its neighbors. In its report Defense of Japan 2020 the Abe government noted that “a regional cooperation framework in the security realm has not been sufficiently institutionalized in the Indo‐​Pacific region.” A growing if informal coalition beckons.

Australia’s attitude toward the PRC has hardened. South Korea has suffered economic reprisals by China, which continues to underwrite North Korea. Manila’s efforts to ingratiate itself with Beijing have not limited the latter’s aggressive maritime activity. Vietnam has clashed with the PRC over conflicting claims involving the Paracel and Spratly Islands. Similarly, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, while not interested in a formal anti‐​China alliance, share an interest in regional peace and stability.

Significantly, India, at serious odds with the PRC over their land borders, has extended its reach into the Pacific. In a report for the Center for Strategic and International Studies Mitsuko Hayashi observed: “Defense ties with India have developed in the maritime sphere since the first [Japanese] participation in the multilateral Malabar exercise in the Indian Ocean in 2007 but also among the ground services, such as anti‐​terrorism exercises held in India in 2018 and 2019.”

Of course, it is up to the Japanese people to decide how much to spend on their military. Washington will inevitably badger its allies to do more when it is tasked with defending them since the less they do means the more Americans are expected to spend, provide, and risk. The frequent result is the pitiable spectacle of US officials complaining, commanding, entreating, insisting, criticizing, exhorting, demanding, whining, insulting, and finally begging friendly governments to do more militarily for themselves. Yet any suggestion that Washington do less generates cacophonous wailing and frenetic gnashing of teeth as alliance advocates aver that America must always do more to protect other nations even if they do less themselves.

However, there is no reason for Washington to do what Tokyo could do. The present alliance, with some 54,000 Americans stationed in Japan (unfairly concentrated in Okinawa, which the US ruled from 1945 to 1972), demonstrates the essential truth of President Donald Trump’s complaints against America’s defense dependents. His solution, however, was to shake down other states, essentially hiring out US military personnel to other countries. His opening annual bids were $5 billion and $8 billion from South Korea and Japan, respectively. That approach was a bust — the allies simply said no — and a bad idea since Americans should not be treated as the modern equivalent of mercenaries.

Instead, Washington should announce that it plans to shift defense responsibilities to capable partners. Which means Tokyo should forthrightly confront its China challenge. So far the PRC’s ambitions appear bounded: reclaiming territory once seized by avaricious neighbors and colonial powers. That could change, of course. However, as noted earlier, Japan is well able to deter Chinese aggression.

Moreover, Washington still could backstop Tokyo’s independence, which doesn’t appear to be at issue — even the most fervent China hawks do not predict a Sino invasion force sailing to conquer Honshu Island anytime soon — and otherwise cooperate to advance common objectives. However, the US should make clear that Japan’s defense is now Tokyo’s responsibility. And while refusing to discuss contested territorial claims with the PRC is up to Japan, so is dealing with the consequences. Settling ownership of the Senkaku/​Diaoyu Islands isn’t America’s responsibility.

Some Japanese already are pushing for a larger and more vigorous Japanese military. Abe’s defense minister, Taro Kono, pointed to foreign military activity to argue: “All cards should be on the table.” There also is increased discussion of being able to preempt foreign attacks, most obviously a possible North Korean missile attack. A more restrictive American stance would necessitate a broader Japanese debate over such issues.

The issue of nuclear weapons could arise as well. That’s obviously a hot button issue for the Japanese people. However, Washington’s policy of “extended deterrence” is a bad deal for America. Why should the US risk Los Angeles, Chicago, or Washington, D.C. for Tokyo? As that seems ever less believable the policy becomes less credible. Japan going nuclear would be fraught with difficulties and downsides, but still might be the best of a bunch of bad options.

Of course, Article 9 of Japan’s “peace constitution,” imposed by Washington during the post‐​World War II occupation, technically forbids possession of a military. However, Tokyo always has creatively interpreted the restriction. Whether Japan should amend its constitution is not America’s business. If the US does less, the Japanese people will be left to decide if they want to do more and, if so, how to do so.

America should embrace the world. However, that doesn’t mean America should protect the world. The US is militarily overextended and financially busted. Prosperous democratic allies should take over their own defense, instead of expecting Washington’s guardianship forever. Why not start with Japan? Biden should communicate that message when Suga arrives on Friday.

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Afghanistan Exit Is the Right Call

Even the streets of Kabul, the capital city, on which I traveled safely a decade ago, are no longer secure.

All this despite combat support from allied forces ranging up to 140,000. For two decades. That’s longer than the Mexican–American War, Civil War, Spanish–American War, World War I, World War II, and Korean War combined — and with no end in sight.

Absent a U.S. troop withdrawal — the ongoing negotiations with the Taliban are best seen as useful cover for getting out — Americans could spend another 20 years dying as presidents keep pushing the tough decision to their successors. Washington is long overdue in ending another doomed nation‐​building attempt to install a never‐​before‐​tried system of centralized governance and liberal democracy.

None of the common objections to departing make sense. One is that the U.S. is finally at the point when the stars have aligned and a bountiful future for Afghanistan is within reach. Sticking around just a little longer will unlock the dream as former enemies, however reluctantly, join hands. In contrast, leaving, as in Iraq, would toss away this opportunity and risk America’s forced return in the future.

Yet assuming success to be just a short time away is a pipe dream, repeated by every U.S. administration, allied military commander, and Afghan apparatchik. Even some advocates now exhibit doubt. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., co‐​chair of the Afghanistan Study Group and one of the debacle’s many architects as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently opined, “If we take advantage of the opportunity we have right now then there is at least a prospect of achieving that end state [a U.S.-friendly outcome] even as we recognize how difficult it will be.” That’s it? There is “at least a prospect of achieving” a positive outcome? That is the justification for tossing away more cash and lives, potentially forever?

This presumes that sticking around — about 3,500 Americans and 7,000 Europeans are still in Afghanistan — would be simple and cheap. U.S. casualties are way down because the few troops there do little fighting and the Taliban did not target them during negotiations. Break the agreement reached by the Trump administration and all bets would be off: U.S. forces likely would be at the top of the target list in an attempt to drive them out. Yet 3,500 personnel aren’t likely to achieve what 100,000 Americans a decade ago were unable to do.

Nor was America’s departure from Iraq discretionary. President George W. Bush was unable to convince the Iraqi parliament to approve a status of forces agreement, necessary for any continuing U.S. military presence. And a small force could have done little to prevent larger social collapse without being placed in combat, which would have turned Americans into targets. Indeed, ousting America’s garrison was a shared objective of nationalistic Shia and antagonistic Sunnis alike.

Another claim is that America has invested too much to quit: $2 trillion in cash, more than 7,000 lives (about 6,000 U.S. service members and contractors and 1,100 allied soldiers), thousands more wounded, many grievously, and enormous effort and emotion. These costs must not end up being incurred in vain. The emotion behind this argument is powerful. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez observed, “I just am concerned that after so much blood and national treasure that we don’t lose what we were seeking to achieve.”

But this is the fallacy of the sunk cost. The money and lives are gone and cannot be returned or redeemed. The question is whether or not the endeavor is worth future costs. Afghanistan is not. The best, indeed the only, way to honor those sacrificed by a succession of myopic political leaders is to stop wasting more lives and money. This presumably is why the vast majority of Afghan vets back withdrawal.

No doubt the air will filled with complaints about lost resolve, trust, and reputation. A couple years ago several Rand Corp. analysts warned that leaving Afghanistan in defeat “would be a blow to American credibility, the weakening of deterrence and the value of U.S. reassurance elsewhere.” Such claims were constantly tossed at Donald Trump, who questioned the bloody conventional wisdom, by insulated, pampered Blob members who sent Americans from across the country to fight and die in multiple endless wars that damaged rather than advanced U.S. security.

The problem is not that America failed, however — the U.S. quickly dispersed al‐​Qaeda and ousted the Taliban — but that Washington unrealistically expanded its objectives. Moreover, the belief that America must sustain every stupid, peripheral undertaking lest adversaries believe Washington will not keep serious, central ones ignores history and reality. No country can be forever bound by zombie commitments.

The U.S. has always “cut and run” when necessary, without causing a global cataclysm. Washington abandoned efforts to liberate North Korea in 1950, failed six years later to back its encouragement of Hungarians to revolt against the Soviet Union, fled South Vietnam with the last Americans escaping via helicopter from atop the embassy in 1975, and dropped support for various friendly dictatorships and insurgencies over the years. None of these actions left the Soviet Union in doubt that America would defend itself or Europe. Indeed, the USSR and other nations acted similarly — the Soviets, too, left Afghanistan in humiliating defeat.

Of course, these are all arguments against withdrawing. Inertia tends to dominate policy. What has always been must always be. Doing what we have always done seems safer than making changes. Indeed, that’s why the last three presidents pushed the problem to their successors. Let someone else make the difficult decision!

But it is time to ask: Are there any reasons for staying? No. Not any good ones, at least.

Imagine we were looking at Afghanistan on September 10, 2001. Who would have advocated an invasion and 20‐​year occupation? Not even the neocon cabal pushing so hard to target other nations, such as Iraq and Iran. Even for Washington’s activist war lobby, Afghanistan made no sense. And that lack of enthusiasm persisted as the Bush administration rapidly shifted troops to the conflict that they really wanted: Iraq. Afghanistan was just a convenient sideshow, unexpectedly dropped in their laps by Osama bin Laden’s location.

So why invade Afghanistan? Not because it is critical for Washington to dominate Central Asia. Of course, Uncle Sam tends to think he is akin to God in the sense that he is interested if anyone anywhere is doing anything just as God is concerned if a sparrow falls to Earth. But while being a superpower means having interests all over, few are important — such as in Central Asia. It is too far from America and too close to several powerful states. What happens there is of interest to Washington, but not vitally so, and certainly not worth decades of war. In fact, China, India, Iran, Pakistan, and Russia all have reason to promote stability in Afghanistan even though they prefer the U.S. to handle the problem.

There is also the broader call for nation‐​building as a positive good. For instance, Max Boot of the Council on Foreign Relations wrote about

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Christie to GOP Study Group: Call Biden Out as ‘a Liar’

Republicans are bloodied and beaten, and maybe just a little too bashful for their own good. At least, so says Chris Christie.

Knocked back on their heels and forced to answer for every outrageous thing Donald Trump did, said, or tweeted for four years, some among their ranks worry that the Grand Old Party has forgotten how to go for the throat. Making matters worse, the new president is perceived as a nice guy. So how do you fight with Uncle Joe when every jab, even above the belt, is condemned as elder abuse?

Well, Christie told fellow Republicans behind closed doors Wednesday, you call him a liar.

“Oh, it’s ‘poor old Joe’ now? You can’t call poor old Joe a liar?” asked the former New Jersey governor. “No. You can. And we need to.”

Then, added Christie, you realize that everything changed in Washington after the election except the rules: “The American people understand fairness. Right? That’s it. They say, ‘Oh, you’re just being negative to the president.’ No. No, I’m not being negative to President Biden. I’m holding him to the same standard you all held President Trump to, and if it was fair then, it is sure as heck fair now.”

This was the message Christie delivered to the Republican Study Committee during a packed private lunch at the Capitol Hill Club. The governor has quickly emerged as the preeminent GOP brawler post-Trump, sparring on ABC’s “This Week” each Sunday with anchor George Stephanopoulos and former Chicago Mayor (and Obama chief of staff) Rahm Emanuel. On Wednesday, he was greeted as such by the largest caucus in the new GOP minority.

More than 40 minutes of remarks boiled down to three words of advice: Buck up, already. “They will only fear us when they know we don’t fear them,” Christie said of the need to take the fight to Democrats.

The former governor’s theory of the case is that Democrats can’t help but go too far too fast. All Republicans really have to do then is leave the majority to its own devices. “When your opponent is in the midst of committing suicide,” he told the lunchtime crowd, “there is no reason to commit murder. The result is the same.”

And Democrats are moving quickly. Biden already muscled a $1.9 trillion stimulus through Congress on a party line vote. Now House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are preparing to do more of the same with an “infrastructure” package that Republicans complain stretches the definition of the word beyond recognition. While polling shows broad support for the package as written, Christie insisted that overreach was still inevitable. “We’ve seen this playbook,” he told lawmakers, urging patience, “let them overreach.”

He likened the actions of the current Democratic majority to their forebears in 1992 and 2008, who moved too quickly and “gave us back Congress with bigger majorities each time than they sit with today.”

“We don’t need to bludgeon them to death every minute,” he added, “but what we do need to do is go after the soft underbelly. The soft underbelly are the lies.”

Christie was complaining about the fact that just 1% of the COVID relief bill went to vaccine distribution and that just a little under 6% of the proposed infrastructure package would go to roads and bridges. The spending spree was indefensible, he argued, and voters would begin to question the White House when they learned more about fiscal malfeasance, such as the $630 million stimulus payment that helped San Francisco shore up its deficit. “What’s that got to do with COVID, Mr. President?” he asked. Voters would be similarly incensed, he predicted in referencing Congressional Budget Office projections, to learn that just $6 billion of that legislation is earmarked for education spending before October of this year.

“It makes my blood boil when this president stands up and tries to convince the American people that what he’s spending all this money on has something to do with getting your kids back to school, has something to do with getting more vaccines in arms, has something to do with making their lives better economically,” Christie concluded.

True to form, the politician who once went to war with public sector unions reserved particular ire for what he saw as an indefensible carve-out for labor. “What the heck is the ‘care infrastructure?’” he asked, referencing the proposed $400 billion in funding earmarked for home and community-based care. According to the Biden administration, it is money needed to give caregivers a raise, better benefits, and “the ability to collectively bargain.” Christie pointed to the money as evidence that “the Democrats only care if the person in your parents’ house or your grandparents’ house pays union dues.”

It is exactly the kind of thing that “will drive the American people crazy.” All Republicans have to do is make sure the electorate knows about it before heading to the polls for the midterms.

The Republican Study Committee has busied itself with that kind of work. With the GOP not only out of power but struggling with an identity crisis, the group feels a particular sense of urgency. “We are developing the agenda in the post-Trump era,” RSC Chairman Jim Banks told RealClearPolitics, “bringing Republicans back together at a time when we haven’t been all that united recently.” This means white papers on policy and information blitzes in the press. It also means holding auditions for potential presidential candidates. Christie hasn’t ruled out a run, but if the former governor harbors White House ambitions, he kept them to himself on Wednesday.

“If we keep fighting amongst ourselves,” he warned, “we are the ones committing suicide, and we can’t have that.” Of course, intraparty fights have been kept to a minimum with the GOP in the minority.

“We can be tough without being crazy,” Christie said, while not mentioning anyone in particular. “We can be tough without being reckless.” But this is easier said than done for the Party of Lincoln, a fact that Christie did not shy away from. Republican problems are partly of their own making, he said with characteristic bluntness: “Everything that is happening today, all the things that are driving us crazy, are because of what happened in January in Georgia.”

If Republicans had “tended to our knitting,” he explained, the newest senators would not be Democrats named Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. “And frankly,” he added, “if my friend had gone down there and talked about Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, and not about Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, we would be in the majority in the Senate right now.”

There was no need to speculate about the friendship in question. Christie and Donald Trump have been close for 20 years. In 2016, others turned their nose up at the host of “Celebrity Apprentice.” Not the New Jersey political boss. His loyalty earned him trust. But unlike the other acolytes, Christie was not one to hold his tongue when he differed with the 45th president. Wednesday was no exception, and he laid the blame for a lost Senate and a lost White House at the feet of Trump.

“We lost because we were looking in the rearview mirror at what happened on general election day, not what was going to happen on runoff election day,” Christie said in bemoaning the fact that Republicans depressed their own voter turnout. “We were telling them it was rigged, and so they said, ‘Hell, why should I go to a rigged election? My vote’s not gonna matter anyway.’”

Republicans haven’t conducted an autopsy, as they did after Barack Obama won a second term. There is no official document in the basement of the Republican National Committee detailing all the missteps that lost them the presidency. On Wednesday, Christie seemed to say there was no need for that kind of postmortem.

“We didn’t lose the White House because the American people disagree with our ideas and support what [Democrats] are trying to do right now,” he admitted. “We know why we lost. We know why we lost, and so does President Trump.”

And then Christie glimpsed briefly in the rearview mirror. “I told the president 131 days out,” he recalled, “if you don’t knock off some of this crazy stuff, your behavior is going to obscure your accomplishments. And if this becomes an election for student council president, we don’t win because he doesn’t offend anybody as a category.”

Trump did not listen. Uncle Joe, the nice guy, won. And now Republicans are struggling to combat the president they couldn’t define as a candidate. The Christie prescription is to call out the new White House on the details of policy, to apply the Trump-era rules to the Biden presidency and “make this a four-year mistake.”  

This is possible, he insisted, if the GOP adopts “a strong, consistent message of strength without recklessness.” Winning back the House in 2022 is possible. Maybe even the Senate too. Christie told the Republicans gathered Wednesday that they can win back the voters they lost “with the broader, working-class base the president helped us develop.”

Banks has authored a memo on how to do exactly that, arguing that Trump had given Republicans “a political gift: we are now the party supported by most working-class voters. The question is whether Republicans reject that gift or unwrap it and permanently become the Party of the Working Class.” The RSC chairman handed a copy of that blueprint to Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy earlier this month.