The biggest winner of the withdrawal from Afghanistan turned out to be the US defense industry because it scared the hell out of all of America’s First World allies.
When our wealthiest allies in Europe and Asia looked at the withdrawal in horror they were not so much horrified by our exit from Afghanistan, in and of itself.
What they were really visualizing was not the future of Central Asia but, instead, what an American withdrawal would mean for stability in their own neighborhood, no matter if we withdrew in a perfectly orderly military operation.
To Asians an American exit from the Pacific would be guaranteed to mean the new, replacement, hegemon over all of Asia would be a government that just released a biological weapon on the entire planet.
No matter what issues the First World has with American diplomacy the negatives of US hegemony are trivial (and fairly predictable) compared to the universe of risks and dangers associated with Chinese world hegemony.
Chinese dominance is as clear an example of a small (or zero) reward/extremely high risk option as has ever existed.
Low reward/sky high risk options are, of course, options that nobody takes.
Even Putin has good reason not to want America to withdraw from Asia because Russia benefits if America and China are balancing the other in a deterrence posture.
If the US and China are focused on eachother, that reduces the amount of resources America has to make trouble for Russia.
But if America simply packed up and let China take Asia over, that would free China to start thinking about new initiatives that could involve Russia’s oil and resource interests in the Arctic, Russia’s oil-rich “near abroad” allies in Central Asia, or perhaps even Siberia itself.
For America’s part, and no matter how badly the exit from Afghanistan was managed, little was lost since Afghanistan (after bin Laden was killed) is of little economic and strategic value.
Afghanistan is a mountainous operation in the “badlands” which the military-industrial complex can live without.
But as a (very unintended) consequence of withdrawing from a nomadic basket case with little to offer us if we had remained, we accidentally terrified our much more strategically important First World allies with the prospect of American Isolationism.
This made them more eager than ever to seek out strategic partnerships and weapons deals with America to counter China (and, by extension, to lock America more deeply into a military alliance system that will make it harder for the US to retreat from) than they otherwise would have been.
Hence the nuclear attack submarine deal with Australia was pushed forward so quickly by Britain and Australia that the deal’s official announcement looked less like an American initiative and more like Boris Johnson and Scott Morrison were taking America’s Asia policy into some sort of joint British-Australian custodianship.
Which may very well be for the best considering Biden’s limited cognitive powers and the fact he will probably be a lame duck President before Christmas.
If anything, the planned production of these attack submarines should be doubled from eight to sixteen.
I would also recommend giving four nuclear submarines to New Zealand, except that Jacinda would only use the ships’ cruise missiles to slaughter any New Zealanders caught ordering fried chicken.
This submarine deal with Australia is just the beginning of what is sure to be a wave of more multi-billion dollar defense contracts, military exercises, and basing rights with Australia, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, India, and others threatened by China – and all of these deals will, presumably, be voted against in Congress by the same members of Congress who against assisting Israel with the Iron Dome missile defense system.