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Right Now Unfettered - 9/4/21

Right Now Unfettered
Welcome back to Unfettered from Right Now. Stephen is joined by three guests this week—“Manufacturing Militarism” co-author Abby Hall-Blanco, Reason Magazine’s Fiona Harrigan, and the Foundation for Economic Education’s Brad Polumbo—to talk about the relationship between war and government propaganda. The debacle in Afghanistan revealed deep institutional problems in America’s entire military-industrial complex—that much is clear to anyone with eyes to see. But how was that allowed to happen? And how was the national security establishment able to convince Americans to go along with it? Click the video below to hear Abby, Fiona and Brad share their thoughts.

Watch the full episode:
S1E28: Kabul is evacuated and the Afghanistan War is over - but militarism is here to stay
S1E28: Kabul is evacuated and the Afghanistan War is over - but militarism is here to stay
Deeper dive
  • One of the most important documents on the systemic issues with America’s national security apparatus to be published in the past decade is the Washington Post’s 2019 “Afghanistan Papers.” The project, based on confidential government documents obtained by the Post’s reporters, reveal “that senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable,” as the introductory paragraph declares. It’s disturbing, but illuminating—a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the roots of the contemporary mess in Afghanistan.
  • National Review’s Michael Brendan Dougherty comes from a very different flavor of conservatism than this week’s guests. Abby, Fiona and Brad are libertarians of one sort or another; Dougherty calls himself a “nationalist,” and is a staunch traditionalist. But all of these writers share a skepticism of America’s contemporary military leadership, and a profound concern about the corruption and dysfunction in the military bureaucracy. Dougherty’s recent essay on this topic, “Ending the Forever War in Afghanistan,” is an eloquent articulation of this view. “Democracy was on our lips, but bribing medieval warlords to do as we wished was the actual policy,” he writes.
  • On the other side of the conservative spectrum is Noah Rothman, an associate editor at the prominent neoconservative publication Commentary. “The mission in Afghanistan…was affordable,” Rothman, a military hawk and outspoken critic of both Trump and Biden’s efforts to withdraw from Afghanistan, writes in Newsweek. “It was not costly in terms of lives or dollars. The consequences of withdrawal are everything that everybody said they didn’t want: larger deployments, more destabilization and a greater terror threat according to the United States government.”
Lastly...what got us worked up this week
😒 Putting aside the crisis in Afghanistan for a moment, the left’s reaction to Texas’ new “heartbeat bill”—which bans almost all abortions after a baby’s heartbeat can be detected, usually around six weeks into the pregnancy—has been nothing short of unhinged. On top of the normal accusations of fascism and theocracy, Republicans have been widely compared to the Taliban and the totalitarian male patriarchs in the Handmaid’s Tale. “It is likely that we are in the last couple of years of being regarded as a quasi democracy,” tweeted Jason Stanley, a philosophy professor at Yale. “The neo-fascist social movement consisting of Christian nationalists and billionaires cynically supporting them in a bid for unconstrained power will likely be what rules from here on out…The far right Supreme Court will tightly control any outcome with their far right ideology, including elections. Occasionally Democrats may control one or another position of power, but it will be only at best for show (if it even happens).” What world is he living in? 
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Right Now Unfettered
Right Now Unfettered

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