The Upper Cut: While Elites Profit from the Afghanistan Retreat, You and I Will Pay the Price


Anti-interventionists praising the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan are playing checkers while the globalist military-industrial-security complex is playing chess.

As is typical — in some contexts, even laudable — these 21st-century isolationists are focusing on the short-term benefits of bringing our troops home and ignoring the long-term issues.

And I’m not talking about long-term foreign policy complications. I’m referring to ramifications for the individual freedoms that these same individuals often claim to value above all other political priorities. Individual freedoms, here in the homeland, that the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan threatens — not directly, but significantly, and soon.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower famously warned the American people about the outsize influence of the military-industrial complex just over 60 years ago during his farewell address on Jan. 17, 1961. To my knowledge, the first person to add “security” to that term was Gen. Michael Flynn, during an interview with me not long ago.

(I’m tempted to add “agricultural” to the mix, but I resist the temptation for two reasons. First, most agriculture is now performed on an industrial scale, making the addition redundant. Second, “MISC” is too good an acronym to mess with.)

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President Joe Biden, a lifelong career politician who has never really done any other work in his 78 years, is unquestionably beholden to and supportive of the MISC (as is essentially every establishment figure). Therefore, the question we should be asking is not whether or not his foreign policy is good or bad for America, because that’s not the question he’s asking.

The real question is this: How does America’s retreat from Afghanistan strengthen the interests of the MISC?

This is especially relevant given the assumption of a cessation (or at least, radical lessening) of U.S. spending in-country, which would appear at first blush to be detrimental to the MISC.

Do you think Biden was right to pull U.S. forces out of Afghanistan so quickly?

So, either that assumption is wrong, and the Biden administration plans some pretext to spend even more in Afghanistan than we already were — and that seems unlikely, but nothing is impossible — or there’s something else in play here.

(Of course, the reader could also question the foundational premise that Biden is, in fact, inclined to further the interests of the MISC. That premise is so basic, and so well-documented, that I won’t bother trying to defend it here. A simple internet search will provide all the background needed, from left, right and centrist sources, to establish the thesis.)

So, how does the defeat and ignominious retreat of the U.S.-backed Afghan government bolster the MISC? To describe the answer to that question as “complex” would be a serious understatement, but here are a few items for consideration:

What allies in the region can a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan now threaten, allies into which the U.S. can pour military aid?

What war materiel does the Taliban now control that can be turned against those allies or other U.S. interests? What new government contracts — i.e., spending of your tax dollars — will be called for in defense of those interests?

Afghanistan, admittedly, doesn’t share a border with any nation I would consider a U.S. ally. But interests? That’s another question.

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Does anyone think Taliban control will result in a more stable border with China? How about with Pakistan — the nation with the fifth- or sixth-largest stockpile of nuclear warheads in the world. Or Iran, which is working around the clock to develop its own nuclear program.

It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see the potential nightmare situations that could dominate Mideast policy in the very near future. At the very least, seeing Israel threatened by a less-stable Middle East is unlikely to lower either U.S. defense spending or foreign aid.

What domestic targets within the U.S. will Taliban-sponsored terrorists now attack, backed by the resources of a nation-state but lacking the (at least arguably) more legitimate military targets that the U.S. is pulling out of Afghanistan?

Given the radical Islamic hatred of American religious freedom — including the freedom not to practice any religion at all — the Taliban motive to act against the U.S. needs no explanation. The Biden administration’s complete lack of attention to U.S. border security provides bad actors more than ample opportunity to gain access to soft targets (i.e., civilian men, women and children) in the homeland.

And now they have the resources of an entire nation-state at their disposal, giving them the means. Motive, means and opportunity — there are plenty of people able to withstand the temptation to commit a crime when presented with all three, but I’m not sure any of them are Taliban members.

How much more freedom will Americans be asked to give up in exchange for security because of those attacks being refocused on the homeland? How will they be used to justify calls for more gun control and expanded gun-free zones, thereby increasing your dependence on government protection?

The establishment already uses any high-profile gun crime as a justification to call for additional infringement upon your Second Amendment right to bear arms; they’re not going to change that playbook just because the criminals are radical Islamic terrorists. Just the opposite, in fact.

Sure, it’ll turn out after even a preliminary investigation — as it almost always does — that the guns used to commit the terrorist attack were obtained by means that are already illegal, and therefore what’s needed (if anything) is stricter enforcement of current laws, rather than new ones. But that will happen days later, and neither establishment politicians nor their allies in the mainstream media will make much of that point, if they bring it up at all.

(Not to mention the inflation tax — more attacks means more people looking to defend themselves. Demand for weapons and ammunition will increase, and therefore so will prices. That will reduce weapons distribution overall and concentrate firepower in the hands of those who can most afford it, i.e., the wealthy elite.)

How will increased activity by radical Islamic terrorists within U.S. borders affect government interference in your right to freedom of speech? Religion? Peaceable assembly?

Given the globalist establishment’s penchant for appeasement of violent criminal regimes, increased pressure to crack down on so-called hate speech, redefined as anything that could be considered derogatory about Muslims or Islam, seems like the least worrisome of potential responses — and it’s plenty worrisome all on its own.

What about Christ’s mandate to His church to serve as His witness to all people? Some Muslims would no doubt find that offensive, even labeling it hate speech (it is, of course, just the opposite) and bringing criminal charges or civil action in American courts. It’s not hard to imagine Biden’s Department of Justice filing amicus briefs siding with those who would limit your rights to free speech and religious practice.

How will it be used to consolidate the power of the establishment elitists in Big Tech?

This is a no-brainer. If the federal government wants to control your speech, all it has to do is enlist the aid of its Silicon Valley allies. Facebook and Twitter already censor free speech that isn’t in lockstep with their worldview. (An important reason why you should both subscribe to The Western Journal and sign up for our email newsletters, by the way.) It’s not difficult to see a deal that kills any possibility of anti-trust action against the Big Tech Tyrants in return for some input from the feds into how their algorithms apply their censorship rules.

They’re already doing just that with regard to pandemic information, and the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

How much more internal security spending will be justified by new attacks on the homeland? How will your private possessions be taxed to pay for that spending?

I have no way to quantify what you’ll pay as a result, but pay you will. Either your taxes will be raised directly, or corporate taxes will be raised, causing them to increase their prices and pass on the additional expense to you. Or they’ll just increase deficit spending and tax you through inflation.

Either way, it will be everyday Americans footing the bill.

I don’t know the ultimate answer to any of these questions, obviously, but I can confidently predict one thing — barring divine intervention (the possibility of which I do not by any means discount), the MISC will gain, and everyday heartland Americans will lose. We’ll lose our money, our sons and daughters, our freedom, and, in some cases, our lives.

I’d bet everything I own on it.

And those are only the internal consequences. The consequences of Taliban rule for the Afghan people may or may not be the responsibility of the U.S., but that doesn’t mean we should ignore their existence. Reports from Afghanistan already include the disarming of anyone who isn’t a Taliban member — no surprise there — but also threats against leaders of the small Christian population in the country.

Afghans have literally climbed onto the wings of departing U.S. planes in hopes of escaping the country. They know what’s coming, even if some of us choose cynically to close our eyes to it.

That said, I understand the anti-interventionist position. I have numerous friends and colleagues who hold it. All things being equal, I even agree with it more often than not.

But all things aren’t equal. And if you think America is better off because we’re pulling out of Afghanistan, you haven’t been paying any attention at all to how the establishment elite operates.

As has been the case for decades (at least), this conflict is not between Republicans and Democrats, or the right and left, or conservatives and liberals. The conflict is between heartland Americans — you — and the establishment elitists who control the MISC.

Everyday Americans must never forget that fundamental truth, no matter how hard the establishment works to distract us from it. Because when we do, they’ve won.

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George Upper is the former Editor-in-Chief of The Western Journal and was a weekly co-host of "WJ Live," powered by The Western Journal. He is currently a contributing editor in the areas of faith, politics and culture. A former U.S. Army special operator, teacher and consultant, he is a lifetime member of the NRA and an active volunteer leader in his church. Born in Foxborough, Massachusetts, he has lived most of his life in central North Carolina.
George Upper, is the former editor-in-chief of The Western Journal and is now a contributing editor in the areas of faith, politics and culture. He currently serves as the connections pastor at Awestruck Church in Greensboro, North Carolina. He is a former U.S. Army special operator, teacher, manager and consultant. Born in Massachusetts, he graduated from Foxborough High School before joining the Army and spending most of the next three years at Fort Bragg. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees in English as well as a Master's in Business Administration, all from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He and his wife life only a short drive from his three children, their spouses and his grandchildren. He is a lifetime member of the NRA and in his spare time he shoots, reads a lot of Lawrence Block and John D. MacDonald, and watches Bruce Campbell movies. He is a fan of individual freedom, Tommy Bahama, fine-point G-2 pens and the Oxford comma.
Foxborough, Massachusetts
Beta Gamma Sigma
B.A., English, UNCG; M.A., English, UNCG; MBA, UNCG
North Carolina
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Business, Leadership and Management, Military, Politics