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Thanksgiving in Afghanistan
I’ll never forget Thanksgiving in 2004.
I’ll never forget Thanksgiving in 2004. We were out on patrol in eastern Afghanistan. It was just another day for Marine infantrymen tasked with winning hearts and minds and driving around, praying for the Taliban to start a fight. As usual, they didn’t.
We got back to the base late—so late in fact, that when we walked into the chow hall, the officers had stopped serving everyone Thanksgiving dinner and the crowd had moved on. About a dozen Marine grunts stumbled in from the dark and looked around. Turkey would have been nice, but we made due with Otis Spunkmeyer muffins and near beer. We ate and we cracked jokes and we talked about home and we wondered about our families on Thanksgiving as they worried about us.
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I’m thankful for that memory. I’m also thankful that I’m able to share it with you here in The Ruck, where I’ve been publishing weekly dispatches on national security since August. So, on this Thanksgiving, I wanted to tell you that I’m grateful for you joining me and wish you well wherever you are. May it be filled with turkey, family, and friends. Or if you’re in a pinch, muffins will do fine.
I wrote a guest column for Semafor that was published today. I explain why the much-speculated invasion of Taiwan is still a way’s off. Here’s how it begins:
Are the United States and China about to go to war over Taiwan? Speculation over a potential war in the future has been replaced by talk that it may happen soon: The U.S. Chief of Naval Operations even suggested it could happen next year. As the Washington consensus hardens against China in the runup to the 2024 U.S. elections, such talk will likely proliferate.
Despite a troubling situation along the Taiwan Strait, speculation is just that. Taiwan will be under considerable pressure from Beijing in the coming years — especially during its own presidential race in 2024 — but an invasion is not coming. At least not yet.
And finally, a programming note: This Thanksgiving edition doesn’t have a rundown of national security news, but I will have an expanded dispatch of exactly that coming out on Tuesday. There won’t be the usual Thursday dispatch since I’ll be traveling mid-week to watch a friend retire from the Marine Corps, and on Friday, will be headed to Simi Valley, California, for the Reagan National Defense Forum. Send me an email if you’ll be there, too. I’m at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you next week!