Basically 20 years after it started the American war with and occupation of Afghanistan finally ended last week. It was carried out under four presidencies, two of each political party. The blame game is on and I have to weigh in on it.
If the latest polling is to be believed, and I certainly believe it, the vast majority of American people are happy with the withdrawal but felt it should have been more efficiently executed. I’m of that general opinion myself.
We withdrew our military with only 13 additional fatalities. One is too many but let’s put that in perspective. For the sake of this discussion, I’m willing to “charge” the 13 deaths to Biden/the Democrats. At the time of those deaths we were experiencing about 1300 deaths per day from COVID-19. About 90% of those were unvaccinated that means just under 50 were dying per hour. The unvaccinated largely believed in the disinformation which is heavily disseminated by the Republicans and their minions. Who killed more Americans last week?
While I am among those disappointed by the withdrawal it was much better than I expected just a few weeks ago. 2021 in Kabul (under Biden) was a well oiled machine when compared to 1975 in Saigon (under Republican Richard Nixon). Morally reprehensible as it may be we were never going to get all the Afghan citizens out that we wanted to. With a very few exceptions we extricated all the Americans including all the additional troops deployed to facilitate the evacuation save the 13.
The lion’s share of the blame has to be placed on George W. Bush who got us into that mess in the first place. The evacuation was heavily constrained by the deal Donald Trump made with the Taliban to improve his reelection chances. Barack Obama’s mistake was listening to the military in the field who kept promising success with just one more infusion of troops. The troops were deployed but alas the success never materialized. Ironically many of those same military people are now being used as experts on TV explaining how Biden could have done a better job. That’s like having coaches who never had a winning season lecture at clinics.
The least share of the blame should be put on Biden. He was dealt a rotten hand and had the courage to cut America’s losses. The only way we could have achieved a lasting improvement in Afghanistan is with a 100 to 500 year on the ground military commitment which the American people (right or wrong) simply were not willing to do. He got us out and that is what the American people wanted.
The Taliban is not a good guys organization and neither are the other competing elements in Afghanistan who are vying to run it today. The political situation in the country is far from settled. Our interest should primarily be preventing Afghanistan from becoming a home base for exporting terrorism. This can be achieved with the somewhat covert assets that I’m certain we left in place and where military action is required special operations or over the horizon attacks can do the job.
Politically this will not be the factor in 2022 or 2024 that I feared. I’m certain the Republicans will raise it. What else can they do? They certainly don’t have a record of positive achievements to run on so the only political strategy left available to them is the try to tear down the other side. (If recent history is a guide, they will supplement and embellish that will a lot of lies.) If they should take control of the House in 2022 (which is very possible at this reading) they will undoubtedly hold a modern day version of the Benghazi hearings to keep the withdrawal in the news. Talk about waste and fraud in government.
Every Republican candidate will be a Monday morning quarterback who will claim they would have done better. Trump, who is number 2 on my responsibility list, has already claimed he would have done much better. What track record do you base that on Cadet Bone Spurs?
We are out, of that I am glad. Most of our efforts were in vain, of that I am sad but it was inevitable. The venture was misguided from the start. Efficiently or not at least Biden has us out of it and is the least to blame for it.
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