The Biden handling of the exit from a $2.3 Trillion war, over 20 years in the making (with little, if anything, gained), will go down in history as a positive legacy of this administration.
It is likely every American who wants out will be safely returned. Tens of thousands of Afghans who served us or fear for their safety under Taliban rule will also be evacuated. So far, no Americans have been injured in the exit process, and the few Afghans who died, did so being trampled in the confusion as thousands rushed the airport.
Could the exit have been better managed? Probably so. Perhaps we could have sent in more troops, secured major cities and airports, and started to evacuate. Perhaps our weaponry could have been removed or prepared for being destroyed. It does appear that US and Allied Intelligence and Military leadership failed to anticipate just how fast the Afghan army would crumble, how fast the Taliban could move. We may have drawn down our troops without sufficient precaution.
However, as President Biden said today, there would have been chaos under any scenario. Possibly less—but possibly more—as these kinds of operations do not follow any rule book, and doubtful any allied intelligence force was able to be on top of Taliban plans. Even if we had better preparations and management, as soon as word spread that evacuation was imminent, thousands would certainly have rushed the nearest US outpost. Chaos.
This “chaos” will all settle down across coming weeks. In a month or two, everyone who deserves to be out will be evacuated.
“Deserves” is an important word. Perhaps the critics don’t want to focus on the complexity of vetting tens of thousands of Afghans, many of them illiterate and speaking no English, with various tribal Afghan dialects. We don’t want to be transporting terrorists to the US, and the US Right certainly doesn’t want to have this become a free opportunity for just any Afghan to immigrate, in addition to those who served us valiantly and those who are deemed in danger. How to vet these people, rushing in thousands, probably many without papers? How to arrange sufficient interpreters and State Dept officers to assure proper qualification?
The critics: The Five, Hannity, Pirro, and Carlson on Fox, other Conservative media, and numerous Republican Right-wing politicians have been having a field day criticizing the exit’s seeming weaknesses. Of course, none make mention of the complexities of such an exit, how it would be inappropriate to just line people up on a first-come-first-served-basis and board them, without interviews, papers, vetting, etc., etc., etc. Have you ever talked to anyone who has actually gone through our entire complex immigration process, with all that vetting? My wife has! To do this in a few days in Afghanistan?! That is a miracle, to say the least—let’s herald the Biden administration for that.
Historians and politicians on both sides will debate the value of this war for decades to come. Was it intended to turn Afghanistan into a solid and prosperous Democracy? Was it intended to snuff out forever the potential threat of various terrorist groups which are sometimes found to be seeking hospitality there? What was it for, really? Whatever it was for, depending on your view as a supporter, most will agree that it failed. Democracy is a far cry, and terrorists will continue to occupy many countries in the world, including Afghanistan.
We are now left to admit that a so-called “rag-tag” band of illiterates espousing a harsh form of religion which limits privilege to women, has been able to better the best efforts of the world’s major nations’ military forces combined, and in the meantime, has captured billions of dollars of aid and military weaponry.
We are left, once again, to nurse our wounds from yet another in a litany of failed foreign intrusions—whether in the sake of human rights or in pursuit of terrorists—or, sometimes with other pecuniary objectives arising in the secret of government or the military-industrial complex.
Bush could have done it. Obama could have done it. Trump could have done it. None of them had the courage to actually do it. Biden should be commended—and assisted, rather than criticized by those seeking petty political gain.
It’s still a long time to the Fall of 2022 and especially to 2024. Americans will not be swayed by arguments that this administration “failed” in exiting Afghanistan. The retort would be “why didn’t the Republican administration do it?”
Soon the Right can return to protesting vaccinations and mask mandates. But what if the Pandemic subsides by the Fall of 2022? Oh, there’s always the border to criticize!