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The first images of the withdrawal from Afghanistan were difficult to take. There were the videos of desperate people hanging from American planes on take-off, and even worse footage of someone falling from a plane after take-off. It was a strange bookend in the era that began with the 9/11 attacks and The Falling Man, a sort of corollary to the Taliban controlling the country at the start and end of the conflict in Afghanistan. Both have left you with the feeling that, despite the many sacrifices made by American soldiers, and after all the bloodshed and the trillions spent, it had mostly been in vain.
Like large sections of Lamestream Media, I was somewhat won over by the idea There must be a better way. But little has emerged to support this notion. It seems clearer than ever that the Afghan government earlier resisted the idea of ââlarge-scale evacuations in order to avoid panic – or a collapse of confidence among members of the Afghan security forces. (This turned out to be a valid concern.) It seems clearer than ever that the Taliban were still going to take control of the country, not least because the United States built an Afghan security force beset by incompetence and corruption, part of a larger and incoherent vision of war where pretty much the only guideline was big profits for defense contractors. And there has been no doubt, for many years, that the United States could not win the war and should just go.
The tortured middle ground that many have staked out is that we should have left more graciously, or that there is an orderly way to lose a war. How much of the chaos do these people think the Biden administration could have prevented? Ten percent? Thirty percent? We are witnessing the collapse of a country’s government and security apparatus. The fact is that more than 82,000 people were evacuated from Kabul in about 11 days, and injuries and loss of life have been reduced to a relative minimum despite some heartbreaking reports of beatings and violence on the streets leading to the airport.
The reason is, it seems more and more, that the deal former President Donald Trump made with the Taliban describing the US withdrawal, which has reduced Taliban attacks on US troops over the past year, does the same now. The likely explanation is that President Biden and his administration have made it clear that they will stick with the pullout, and the Taliban believe it is in their best interests to let the Americans – and many Afghans who have helped them – go. What comes after that will be terrible for the Afghan people, especially their wives and daughters, but the alternate realities currently being discussed in the American press are little more than wishes.
The Economist, for example, saw fit to ask Henry Kissinger for his opinion (!) on all of that. Surprise, surprise, a guy who is at this point an expat from The Hague doesn’t think we should get out of a foreign conflict that has killed thousands of civilians. Let’s stick around! We can still win this thing. In the Washington postOpinion page editor Fred Hiatt has embarked on a spooky reflection on the war on terror. Either way, Biden’s decision to pull the United States out of the clearly impossible to win conflict in Afghanistan is sort of a reverse war in Iraq (?), Where Biden sent the message that the States- United do not care about democracy and that the citizens of Poland and Taiwan will be upset. Staying the course rhetoric quickly turns into nebulous claims around American strength and credibility within a year of having a deranged game show host as president. Meanwhile, Hiatt also admits that building an Afghan democracy was a ex post facto justification for the invasion, a tacit admission that the spread of democracy is not really a primary objective of American foreign policy.
But more than that, Hiatt is openly advocating for a “small footprint” force on an unlimited timeframe to maintain a “stalemate” with the Taliban, which depends on the idea that the situation on the ground will largely remain the same if we break the deadlock. agreement that is in place. In reality, it would likely involve Taliban attacks on US troops and another wave of fighting. The evacuation required a push, for the love of Christ. As others have said, the choice was to quit or step up.
Others have returned to the front page of the War on Terror playbook: Fear. A survey of Politics and morning consultation asked a remarkable question of those surveyed this week and got equally remarkable results:
Do you think the United States should always withdraw its military presence in Afghanistan if that means creating an opening for Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups to establish operations in Afghanistan?
Withdrawal always: 45%
Do not withdraw: 40%
Do you support the withdrawal even if it means that your family will one day be murdered by terrorists? And again a plurality said yes. Oddly enough, this number is up from when these people asked the same question from August 13 to 16. At this point, only 35% of those polled said they were pursuing the withdrawal, compared to 48% against. But the results, while surprising, are less telling than the push-poll question. Pollsters also delivered their own vows, asking if those interviewed still support the pullout if that means the Taliban will control Afghanistan. Friends, this ship has sailed.
Which brings up another postural review of the day: Why is the almighty United States of America sticking to the Taliban timetable for us to leave by August 31? It’s all the rage on Fox News and beyond, although it’s also our timeline and, again, the Taliban are now in charge of Afghanistan. This is how it works ! For most of the War on Terror era, anti-war types were presented as hopelessly naÃ¯ve. Your bleeding hearts need to grow! Familiarize yourself with the sad facts of life! But for some time now, the position of cold rationality has been that we have to stop this, and that when we leave, yes, the Taliban will run things. As proof of what it really is, the the Wall Street newspaper On Tuesday, the editorial board spoke out against the August 31 deadline and, after some discussion about the importance of evacuating anyone who wanted to leave, got to the heart of the matter: the botched withdrawal. “Honor! Credibility! Don’t project weakness! This is real War on Terror 1.0 stuff. Oh, and yes, Marco Rubio(Few were more enthusiastic about arming Syrian rebel groups than Rubio, on the apparent belief that these weapons would never fall into the wrong hands.) That’s why you don’t invade in the first place.
This last point leads here to supreme absurdity. The people who supported the invasion and growing expansion of US imperial action, and who have told us year after year for two decades that victory is imminent, are everywhere on television and in the opinion pages that tell us now. . victory is near, or at least we don’t have to lose, and we can keep some control of the country with a little force that the Taliban will leave alone. Do these people know which part of the country did the Taliban control before their last blitzkrieg (largely bloodless)? Probably not, as neither of us paid much attention to it, and we probably won’t be in a month. Hell, that might only take a week.
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