The Fall Guy

The tragic finale to the West’s 20-year quixotic attempt at nation-building in Afghanistan comes complete with a fall guy: Joe Biden. His three forerunners, Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump, all effectively passed the buck to him; Trump even set a devious trap by agreeing to an unsound military pullout with the Taliban that would occur either during his second term or on his successor’s watch. Some Republican critics actually blame President Biden for losing the war, with the farcical claim that a force of merely 3,500 soldiers could have maintained the status quo. But after two decades of dealing with largely corrupt government officials and an often-indifferent population, we knew that Afghanistan’s society could not support a modern state on its own.  Having once driven the Taliban from power by force, we would be foolish to expect them to wave goodbye to our personnel and allies at the airport.  And had the evacuation begun earlier, the Administration would’ve been blamed for the collapse of the Afghan military.  In the short run, Biden’s approval ratings have sunk, accompanied by calls from political nemeses (who apparently saw little wrong with their party’s leader inciting a violent raid on the Capitol) for his resignation, impeachment or removal from office with the 25th Amendment of our constitution.  Perhaps because he was never committed to running for reelection at 81 years of age, Biden was prepared to take the heat for ending a doomed war, and his historical legacy should reflect that.

2 thoughts on “The Fall Guy

  1. I believe put it this way: Mr. “Art of the Deal” got no concessions from the Taliban, but gave them the date of withdrawal. Duh! Kind of like opening the cash register drawer and leaving the store unlocked. However, Trump is not alone in screwing the pooch we call Afghanistan. Consider the opportunity early on where the Taliban were ready to negotiate for peace, but Rumsfeld said that we don’t negotiate with terrorists. Instead of mission accomplished, it went on for more than a decade, spewing our blood and treasure. Could it have really been that there was too much money changing hands to consider closing shop? Do you think that Rumsfeld had friends who were profiting in the business of war? Meanwhile, they paid their soldiers peanuts, and the big money went to pay off corruption. And, as we failed at nation-building, so did we fail at keeping ISIS-K from gaining a foothold. But when you look at the overall picture, America could not compete with regional players who have long-term interests and shorter supply lines. Our good buddy Pakistan, whom we gave the atomic bomb to, and who then gave it to North Korea, was going to have it both ways in Afghanistan. China and Iran, as well as Russia, were not going to let us create a democratic republic even if we could bypass tradition in a land with thousands of years of tribalism and corruption. People don’t survive in an environment as harsh as this unless you have community support. As soon as we left the next-largest armed entity was going to move in. If you had been opposing them all along you were not going to live after the takeover. But the apt analogy for the Taliban is GOP America: religious fundamentalists who subvert power and worship the gun.

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