Afghanistan: A ‘Sudden Fall’ Two Decades in the Making
Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani fled the country yesterday as the Taliban entered Kabul and took control of the presidential palace. Images of the Taliban taking the city, scenes of chaos and crowding at the Kabul airport in an attempt to leave, and rumors of burqa shops booming have a lot of Americans pretending like it’s not in spite—or because—of 20 years of U.S. occupation that this “sudden fall” is happening and that somehow, if we just stay a little longer, we can turn the situation around.
The delusional forever-war crowd has been joined by people who just want to slam the Biden administration whenever possible, creating a cacophony of voices advocating for continued U.S. lunacy in Afghanistan.
While acknowledging that “this was a disaster that was produced by four administrations, two Republican (George W. Bush, Donald Trump) and two Democratic (Barack Obama, Joe Biden),” Washington Post columnist Max Boot somehow concludes that “this is on Biden, and it will leave an indelible stain on his presidency.”
But some rational thought has managed to prevail, thankfully.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN yesterday that “the idea that the status quo could have been maintained by keeping our forces there I think is simply wrong.”
“After 20 years of U.S. effort, the loss of 2,448 soldiers and a trillion spent, Afghanistan was left with a corrupt government and an ineffectual military,” tweeted Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.). “At this moment, we must do everything we can to evacuate our allies and open our doors to refugees.”
Oh please. This withdrawal is the greatest accomplishment of either of their lives. https://t.co/BKLFBWzNn8
— Scott Horton (@scotthortonshow) August 16, 2021
One empty, Respectable Centrist line of commentary has been to say that the U.S. leaving is the right decision but that President Joe Biden—who has pushed back by months the withdrawal deadline former President Donald Trump negotiated—was somehow too hasty. It’s unclear what some folks advocating this sort of mushy middle ground think could have been done to soften the blow of U.S. withdrawal.
Others suggest that the fault lies in waiting too long to evacuate.
“The rapid reconquest of the capital, Kabul, by the Taliban after two decades of a staggeringly expensive, bloody effort to establish a secular government with functioning security forces in Afghanistan is, above all, unutterably tragic,” writes The New York Times editorial board, in a sentiment almost no one can deny. And “the Biden administration was right to bring the war to a close. Yet there was no need for it to end in such chaos, with so little forethought for all those who sacrificed so much in the hopes of a better Afghanistan.”
USA Today contributor Daniel DePetris waves away criticisms that the pro-withdrawal crowd was somehow unaware that what’s now happening would happen or could’ve taken steps to prevent it.
“Those who believe a full and complete U.S. troop withdrawal is the best course of action understood quite well what could happen on the ground once the U.S. military left. Removing the best fighting force on the planet from a civil war will inevitably have some impact on the fighting,” he writes. But “from the standpoint of U.S. national security interests, which party was winning or losing Afghanistan’s civil war at any given time is subsumed by a far more important consideration: after 20 years of backstopping the Afghan government and paying for the Afghan security forces, extending the U.S. troop presence in the country was unlikely to make much of a difference in the war.”
This may be “hard to accept” for many, he adds. But it is the reality.
What is happening in Afghanistan isn’t like the fall of Saigon. It’s like the United States lost another war after destabilizing a country that will likely be a failed state for decades, something which has happened multiple times in the “War on Terrorism.”
— Kevin Gosztola (@kgosztola) August 15, 2021
Perhaps worse than the mush-mouthed centrist critics is the pure political opportunism this has spawned in some corners, with partisans desperate to blame either Biden or Trump for what’s happening now in Afghanistan.
Article from Latest – Reason.com