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Sept. 22, 2021, 7:25 a.m. EDT

Learning the right lessons from the Afghanistan debacle

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Peter Morici

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Afghanistan has  untapped mineral resources , including lithium, but the Taliban must establish a non-terrorist, stable order to attract private foreign investment. For now,  the United States has frozen access to Afghanistan’s overseas assets , and  cut off access to the U.S. dollar payment system —similar to sanctions on Iran and North Korea.

ISIS-K  poses an  immediate threat  to the regime, and  jihadists  will occupy its more remote mountainous territory and potentially threaten Pakistan,  India , western China and nations further abroad. The more Taliban 2.0 moves to accommodate Western expectations for women’s rights and general good international citizenship, for example by  banning opium production , the easier time terrorists will have recruiting young apostles in the countryside.

Wither Pax Americana?

From  Europe to Taiwan   epitaphs abound about the end of Pax Americana . We went through a similar season of doubt after Vietnam, but this time  Biden’s   behavior  and  questionable foreign-policy acumen elsewhere  make the challenge more daunting.

He hastily withdrew U.S. forces to serve  his ill-compassed political instincts . He  hardly consulted with our allies —who  risked troops and treasure in Afghanistan .

After Vietnam, America moved on to success in other theaters. From Taiwan to India, our friends are increasingly aware of the threat to sovereignty posed by China.  Responsible actions  to  cope with the refugee crisis , building Biden’s alliance of democracies—including  rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership , which he eschews—and investing in the Pacific fleet are the path forward.

America would like to be done with nation building— and we may be for a generation —but wholesale isolationism is not in the cards. Even if we are reluctantly pulled forward by the adventurism of Russia, China and Iran, America remains the essential nation and global security essential to American freedom and prosperity.

<STRONG>Peter Morici is an economist and emeritus business professor at the University of Maryland, and a national columnist.</STRONG>

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