Chuck DeVore writes for the Federalist about one negative impact of the recent policy failure in Afghanistan.

The fiasco in Afghanistan should, by itself, bring a reckoning for the professionals who assured us it was a worthy effort. It won’t.

We witnessed the sudden, embarrassing end to a misbegotten nation-building effort killing more than 2,443 American soldiers and costing some $2.3 trillion in expenditures for warfighting, civil works projects, and the now non-existent Afghan national army — not to mention veterans’ health costs.

The two biggest national security challenges of the post-Cold War era — China and the response to 9/11 — have been gravely mishandled by America’s defense and foreign policy elite. America and its allies are now in a position of extreme vulnerability because of their gross incompetence. The Chinese Communist Party leadership under General Secretary Xi Jinping cannot help but view American capabilities as weak and its leadership as craven. Taiwan, and by extension, Japan, are in China’s crosshairs.

This danger will only begin to ebb when the United States successfully reverses a Chinese gain, shattering its aura of inevitability — something akin to the invasion of Grenada in 1983, which marked the first reversal of a Soviet bloc acquisition during the Cold War.

How did we get to our present state? What were the main policy forks where a more honest national security establishment could have taken a different path?

The beginning was with President Nixon’s opening to China in 1972, as he sought to wind down U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War while deepening and formalizing the Sino-Soviet rift that started in 1956. …

… A nation that allows itself to be used as a platform to attack America confers no obligation on America to leave that nation in better shape than it was before the punitive expedition to destroy the threat it hosted.

American mission planners should be under no obligation to occupy and then economically and politically develop terror-hosting nations. This frees resources for more punitive expeditions — a virtuous circle — as well as more dollars for R&D and procurement to deter or defeat China.