After World War I the world began to look at the United States differently. Its role in helping to defeat Germany enhanced its reputation.

After World War II it was even more respected. It was for more than half a century. Then, in one fell swoop the present administration changed it all.

Other nations felt the U.S. hurt its own reputation in the way it backed out of Afghanistan. They felt betrayed, as did many veterans of that war. Truth be known, Americans from all walks of life had the same reaction and they haven’t been reluctant to express their opinions. Defeat and humiliation are not in their nature.

Americans are good people. When tragedy strikes in this or other nations it’s usually Americans that go to their aid. They provide medical supplies, food, clothing and most anything needed. That’s been evident in the wake of hurricanes, tornadoes and other emergencies. Aid to Haiti after a recent earthquake is a good example.

Americans continue to be Good Samaritans although others do not reciprocate. The United States is not perfect, of course, and it has its share of losers. Generally, though, it is an All-American nation of people with roots all over the world. They understand the effect hardship has and what it does to people and nations.

America also has never hesitated to stand strong when necessary to defend weaker nations. Its history of standing up to anyone who bullies others is well known. That’s why the recent debacle in Afghanistan outraged a lot of South Carolinians and many others when we cut and ran. It was a terrible blow to our reputation. The United States has been the moral and military strength many others counted on. Now, however, the whole world and many Americans have doubts. Don’t blame the solders, blame politicians.

President Joe Biden has been the opposite of what other presidents have been, including John F. Kennedy. In his inaugural address JFK notified the world: “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty. This much we pledge — and more.”

President Kennedy was a Democrat like Biden, but the differences in the two are monumental. Other Democrats, like Kennedy, believed in America being the beacon of hope for the world. Republican presidents believed in security as Kennedy did.

For example, Ronald Reagan said, “There’s no argument over the choice between peace and war, but there’s only one guaranteed way you can have peace — and you can have it in the next second. Surrender…” Like others he believed in peace through strength.

Afghanistan remains a haven for terrorism. It’s the kind of situation the United Nations was created to handle. It has been no secret, however, that the U.N. has not lived up to what it was supposed to be. That’s a shame since its potential is wasted.

We could have made a lasting difference in Afghanistan but leaving the way we did changed that. We have the military power to overcome the Taliban and any other terrorist group. Willpower must match military power, though, something we did not show when we turned tail and ran.

All these years later something Ulysses Grant said rings true. In 1858 Grant described his strategy: “The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can and keep moving on.”

That’s moving on, not out.

Collins lives in Greenwood and is retired from the Index-Journal where he served in several capacities, to include as the paper’s executive editorial editor.

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