Afghans themselves to blame for failures

In the wake of the fall of Afghanistan’s government and the resurgence of the Taliban, there has been a shameful trend in American punditry and political jockeying.

Many supporters of the Biden administration are cherry-picking some actions of the Trump administration to begin the process of withdrawal to lay blame at the feet of former President Donald Trump and absolve President Joe Biden.

Similarly, many supporters of the Trump administration are taking a myopic view of the fall of Afghanistan’s government to absolve President Trump and hold the Biden administration solely responsible.

Both are shamefully wrong — in their zeal for partisanship, their condescending treatment of Afghanistan’s people and their refusal to confront the inadequacy of American interventionism.

While the Biden administration needed to address assistance for the Afghan interpreters and others who supported U.S. efforts and failed to treat the matter with the seriousness and timeliness it deserved, and while the Trump administration was too quick to agree to the release of Taliban fighters, neither of these issues — had they been better managed — would likely have made much difference in preventing the Taliban from retaking the government.

While, for followers of partisan American politics it may be more convenient to blame “the other side,” interventionists in both parties and throughout the miltary and intelligence leadership pressed for intervention in 2001 while downplaying the importance of questions about the commitment of time and resources to the policy.

And so it is reductive and speaks to a pathological need to cast every problem as either Republicans’ fault or Democrats’ fault.

No, blame for the events in Afghanistan surely must be assigned to Afghanistan’s government.

Over the years, Afghan leaders have failed miserably to bring democracy and peace to their country, despite the United States working to lay a foundation and making so much sacrifice.

Corruption. Mismanagement. Blackmail. Deceit. These behaviors infiltrated Afghanistan’s leadership and citizenry at every corner.

The U.S. has sacrificed 6,294 lives of military personnel and contractors in pursuit of an Afghanistan that is better for its people.

Other NATO members sacrificed an additional 1,144 lives and 444 aid workers lost their lives.

The U.S. had a presence in Afghanistan for nearly 20 years and spent trillions of dollars in efforts to help the country excise the Taliban and authoritarian elements and develop a government that would place the interests of the Afghan people ahead of ideology.

Despite all of this, Afghanistan’s government failed.

And the interventionists, who had 20 years to prepare Afghanistan’s government and instead insisted year after year that the U.S. must remain longer, failed.

That all said, and with the Taliban now in control, we had better never take our eyes off of them.


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