For four Trump years we had a bull-in-a-china-shop foreign policy. An ignoramus thinking himself a genius — a deadly combination. His “America First” policy so idiotically executed it vastly harmed us.
Few Americans paid close enough attention, so he skated through it, like everything, with no comeuppance. Not even his disgraceful Northern Syria betrayal seemed to register.
Then comes President Biden — an experienced, knowledgeable, conscientious, decent, sane man — whom I hugely supported — and he blows it, bigly, regarding Afghanistan. There is no cosmic justice. Life is unfair.
Why couldn’t this debacle have come on Trump’s watch? After all, it was he who “negotiated” the “deal” with the Taliban, for America to leave (in exchange for nothing) even quicker (in May). Hence Republicans’ Biden bashing is really rich. As if the monster they worship would have done things better. The worst epithet for Biden’s Afghan fiasco is Trumpian.
He says it was time to end this war. In fact, it wasn’t even really a war. For Afghans it was, but not for us. We had long since stopped treating it so. We were now merely providing a little help — indeed, utterly piddling compared to other continuing overseas commitments — tens of thousands of troops in Germany, Japan, South Korea, etc. Yet in contrast to those, our cheap little Afghan efforts were paying huge dividends — in quality of life for millions of Afghans (especially females) and, importantly for us, avoiding a humiliating defeat. Pulling that plug made no sense.
So we have unnecessarily incurred that humiliating defeat. And, to boot, with vivid shameful pictures displayed to the world.
Biden says quitting Afghanistan lets us focus on the bigger China problem. Couldn’t we do both? Actually, our Afghan debacle worsens the China problem. Now China is on a soapbox, jeering, “See? We told you America is a feckless declining nation.” While European allies, who worked with us in Afghanistan, feel betrayed. Biden had proclaimed, “America is back.” He might as well have said, “Trump is back.”
In today’s world, everything is connected to everything. We should not imagine the Afghan denouement will have no effects beyond its borders. That’s a dicey neighborhood. All the fallout from this disaster cannot yet be foreseen, but it isn’t likely to be good.
Already in one way the world has been made more dangerous. Islamic extremists everywhere are thrilled and energized by what they deem their triumph. Defeating an infidel superpower. Thinking, “if the Taliban can do it, why not us?”
Biden vaunts the achievement of evacuating 124,000 from Afghanistan in just a few weeks. Those who did it, despite the chaos, do deserve kudos. But the time constraint was Biden’s own doing. Even if you think leaving Afghanistan was right, surely doing it in such a rush was not. And once the Taliban takeover changed the picture, why no course correction?
Left behind are hundreds of U.S. citizens, an untold number of green card holders (legal permanent U.S. residents) — and tens of thousands of Afghans, many of whom should have qualified for special expedited visas, for people who worked with us and are now consequently in the Taliban’s gunsights. Bureaucratic obstacles kept myriads from completing that paperwork. A sadly familiar story. But Biden should have knocked some heads together, to get these people out before his self-imposed deadline. Now it’s too late.
This unfortunately reprises our shabby abandonment of legions of Iraqis, in similar circumstances, not so long ago. Such callous irresponsibility, toward people who trusted in us, is a profound moral stain. I believe in an America better than that. But that faith is faltering.
This post first appeared on The Rational Optimist | Frank S. Robinson's Blog On Life, Society, Politics, And Philosophy, please read the originial post: here