Published at 11:42 on 16 August 2021
An Intelligence Failure of the First Order
I expected the Taliban to prevail (they prevailed in about a third of the country prior to the withdrawal, after all). I did not expect them to prevail so soon. Neither did the intelligence community.
My oversight can be excused. I am just some random guy with a blog; any failures in my analyses carry exactly zero national security import. The so-called experts should have known better.
Biden Has Egg on His Face
Yes, his predecessor had the idea of withdrawing in defeat first. So what? Trump had lots of other ideas, and Biden promptly tore the policies based on those ideas up when he got into office. Biden, not Trump, is president now. Biden, not Trump, made the ultimate decision to withdraw. The buck stops in the Oval Office.
The question now is how much this will hurt Biden. Hurt him it will, of that there is no question. The only question is how much. One thing working in Biden’s favor is that most Americans don’t give a shit about foreign policy. The Republicans are going to try and make this stick, and unlike the Democrats, the Republicans actually do have effective propagandists. But they will still be swimming against the tide of a public that generally does not give a shit.
The Real Losers Are the Afghan People
Many of them do not yet realize how much they have lost. Like most of the Third World, Afghanistan’s population skews young. Many of them don’t have personal experience living under Taliban rule. They now will.
The biggest losers are the Afghans that for one reason or another threw their lot in with the West. Actually, that wording has some problems. For some of them, there really was no choice. If you were a feminist, or LGBT, Fate herself had chosen to throw your lot in with that of the Western modernizers. But that is of little consequence when it comes to the consequences that those Afghans will now suffer at the hands of their new, brutal overlords.
Get Them Out!
As much as possible, we need to ensure that those in Afghanistan who want to get out, can get out. Every country that participated in the invasion, particularly the USA, needs to welcome as many Afghan refugees as humanly possible. Any quotas or paperwork that get in the way need to be shoved out of the way.
Although the general goal should be retreat, it is acceptable (and almost certainly necessary) to maintain some military presence for purposes of managing the evacuation. Make it clear to the Taliban that their lives will be much simplified if they cooperate with the evacuation, then honor that deal by promptly leaving once the evacuations are complete.