If anyone on the Left is wondering why Americans don't trust you on national defense,
Engelhardt's basic premise is: fighting terrorists creates terrorism. His solution? Don't fight terrorists! (What an obvious solution! How could we possibly have missed it?) Because, in his words, that takes a terrible situation and makes it worse. Do leftists find some perverse, pugnacious intellectual joy in taking the position most contrary to common sense and ardently defending it? Honestly, I can't come with any other explanation for this piece.
To draw out the most egregious example, he says overthrowing the Al Qaeda/Taliban gov't in Afghanistan and replacing it with democracy was a mistake, because Afghanistan is still poor and drug-ridden while the Taliban was a perfect example to the world of how awful their ideology was. I'm not sure whether Engelhardt would also have left Hitler in power and the concentration camps going for another 5 million Jews to be killed so that the whole world could see how awful Nazism was, but I am sure we can assume that were he subject to such repression himself, he would not for a minute accept the idea that it was right and just that such heinous conditions should be applied to him as an example to others of how awful his oppressors were, and that, I think, clearly illustrates the moral absurdity of his position.
I can just picture Tom consoling some poor Afghan woman: "Well, you are about to be beaten to a bloody pulp with sticks for leaving the house to get medicine for your dying baby without a male relative escorting you, but just think of the bad publicity it's giving the Taliban!"