It is Friday afternoon as I pen this. I needed to disclose that on two accounts. As expected, despite Mike Lindell’s proclamations to the contrary, Donald Trump was not returned to the Oval Office on Friday morning. (Who said Friday the Thirteenth was bad?) That would have no doubt been the biggest political story of last week. The situation in Afghanistan is both dynamic and of rapidly evolving, therefore some of the information contained within may be very dated by publication time.
On Sunday October 7, 2001 (the last day of the 2001 MLB regular season) my wife and I were sitting in the Trop watching the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays lose to the New York Yankees. The biggest crowd reaction came during the game when the PA announced that a United States led effort had just bombed Afghanistan. In an America largely wanting what it perceived as revenge for 9/11 the crowd stood up and went wild in reaction to the announcement. I remember I remained seated next to my wife and said words to the effect that W. had made another mistake. (I can’t remember my exact quote but if I did it wouldn’t be fit to print here.) The bombing was followed by troops on the ground in less than a fortnight and we haven’t left since.
Today America under Joe Biden is in the process of withdrawing and I’m expecting the final picture to resemble 1975 in Saigon. There is plenty of blame to go around and the thus far named presidents are not alone.
It has never been well received, but I have long held what I call the Incidence of Original Error Theory. In plain English, who started it bears the most, and sometimes, exclusive blame. In the case of Afghanistan if George W. Bush hadn’t gone in on this fool’s errand his next three successors wouldn’t have had to content with it.
History teaches us that a war/occupation of Afghanistan is unwinnable/unsustainable. The British and the Russians had failed in the 19th and 20th centuries. What made Bush think the Americans would succeed in the 21st?
Bush was succeeded by Barack Obama (who in full disclose I worked for at one point in his administration). Obama, who in sum I think was a well above average president, did nothing to extricate us from the mistake.
Donald Trump succeeded him and spent four years on mixed messages. He set a withdrawal date for into what he hoped would be his second term. Obviously, he did little other than set a date because unless Biden scrapped it, which is incredibly doubtful, the withdrawal looks like a typical Trump operation.
To this point I’m going to say Bush made a huge mistake by getting us into an untenable situation and both Obama and Trump weren’t willing to take the “loss” on their record. In Obama’s defense I will compliment him for being the first president to look at the situation by combining Afghanistan and Pakistan. The terrorists knew no borders and Pakistan was complicit in aiding them. To Obama’s credit he authorized the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan without previously notifying Pakistan of the action.
Let’s face it Trump was so far over his head in the presidency that to expect him to successfully manage a situation like this is like expecting me to star at center in the NBA. It was a situation he inherited and he couldn’t manage the only original crisis on his watch.
Joe Biden took the action of announcing a withdrawal in recognition of the situation. The reality is that to be successful America would have to make a commitment of between 100 and 500 years and the American people are simply unwilling to do that. The terrorists in Afghanistan simply waited us out. 20 years is a long time to us; it is not to the denizens of this region.
Many are shocked by the speed with which the terrorists are taking over Afghanistan before we even complete our withdrawal. I am not! The only legitimate criticism I can level at Biden is that a solid plan to exit the country with those who helped us was not in place. The negotiations we were having with the Taliban were a joke! Did anyone think they were legitimately negotiating? Why would they? If anything on their part it was a façade to run out the clock.
We made a mistake by jumping in and we did a terrible job in the withdrawal. I still content that considering the attitude of the American people Biden did the right thing by getting out; I just wish the exit had a plan that would have included getting those Afghans who helped us out of the country alive.
The biggest blame goes to Bush and the least to Biden. A Republican makes a mess and a Democrat gets criticized because he didn’t do a good enough job of cleaning it up. Have things ever changed in the last 100 or so years in America?
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