I’m perplexed about two things this Monday morning. Since they are both rooted in the same rapidly dynamic situation the timing is important. One is fairly immediate and the other is longer term, in two stages and related to the first. Confused? Please read along and I will clear up the mystery but alas have no definitive answers at this point.
The situation in Afghanistan appears to be worsening by the hour. My fear is that we will lose American lives before it is over. The majority of Americans want out of Afghanistan, that is an established fact. My reading of the situation is that most Americans really don’t care about Afghanistan or its people, but they care about fellow Americans’ lives.
The Taliban is far from a negotiating partner who can be trusted. If you doubt that then do yourself a favor and stop reading because you are already too far gone. Any deal we may make with them is suspect at best. What if we can’t get all the non-military Americans out? What will be the political impact of that?
Now to the next phase. What about the military that has been deployed to execute the evacuation? I am far from a military expert but how do you get the last troops out when there are no troops on the ground providing cover? Kabul is basically in the middle of nowhere and if your answer to the previous question is by providing air cover is it feasible in this location and situation? I hope the answer to that question is yes and my military ignorance is showing.
Depending on how disastrous the evacuation is, what domestic political impact will it have in 2022 and 2024? I doubt Joe Biden will have the luck Donald Trump did and this will fade away by the elections in question. Will the Democrats and Biden be perceived as responsible despite the fact that it increasingly appears the Trump administration, who largely dictated the time line without putting any plans in place, and that George W. Bush (aided by “geniuses” Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld) made the original error by going in in the first place are primarily responsible?
If the Republicans take one or both of the chambers on Congress in 2022 that will make the second half of Biden’s first term unproductive and therefore make him more vulnerable in 2024.
Speaking of 2024 I’d like to take a way too early look ahead and there are a lot of unanswerable variables at this point in addition to those sited above. I have been wrong before in predicting what Biden would do politically but my gut tells me he will not run in 2024 unless it looks like Trump will be the Republican nominee. I think Biden feels he is the Democrats’ best chance to beat Trump and the patriot in him will do everything he can to prevent Trump from a return trip to the White House.
I hope Trump will be incarcerated or so blemished that he will not be the 2024 GOP standard bearer but who knows. That would normally leave Kamala Harris as the prohibitive favorite for the Democratic nod. Fairly or unfairly, (I won’t judge that here and today), Harris’ performance reviews are less than sterling. If Biden vacates, I could see a scramble on the Democratic side. The most prominent name mentioned is that of current Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. I could also see Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar getting into the race. They would appear to be the favorites and they would be joined by a host of others.
On the Republican side if Trump is out of the picture – which, while far from a forgone conclusion I think is very likely – I see a scramble with two lanes: the Trumper and the I’m not Donald Trump lanes. Currently leading in the Trumper bracket is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse has been setting himself up as the favorite in the non-Trump bracket for months now. Could we see a Liz Cheney challenge to him?
The field would certainly be large and include some or all of the following: Ted Cruz, Paul Gosar, Nikki Haley, Kristi Noam, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio just to name a few. I certainly can’t pick a president I would look forward to out of that crew!
I don’t have many answers but I have a lot of trepidations. So much hinges on Afghanistan and I’ll be watching!
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