August 17, 2021

Stopped clock got it right on 2003

The guy in the video (who shall remain both nameless and without a title on this blog), like a stopped clock, was right.  Unfortunately you have to go back to 2003 for the correct view.

When president Trump announced he wanted to withdrawal all troops from Afghanistan, he made some valid points. In fact, I agree that there needed to be a timetable for withdrawal.  I think announcing the timetable was a rookie mistake however.  But the calamity and chaos was compounded immeasurably when the guy in the video started making the decisions.  The pullout under the cover of darkness, with no handoff of infrastructure and power, along with the announced delay, and his clear lack of a plan on how to do it, was done in the worst possible way. You would be hard pressed to think of anything that could have been done to make it worse.

Sure there were likely to be a lot of problems, even if president Trump was in charge during the pullout.  But you can bet it would not have been this bad.  It would have been manageable problems, not a total collapse and return to the Taliban.  

Beyond that, the guy in the video is lying now. But worse still, he continues to compound the problem, making it look like America's erstwhile allies in the country are on their own, with nary a chance to fight, flee or survive because, well, it is what it is.  The right wording might force the Taliban to at least pause before slaughtering more people.

All of that aside, was an Afghanistan war a good idea for America?  It made sense when they were trying to find Bin Laden. Not a war per se, but an invasion.  That's where they believed he was. The mistake was engaging the Taliban as enemy combatants as a side effort.  If they were in the way, take care of it, but do not put the country on a path towards democracy unless you are willing to stick it out for as long as it takes.  American forces are still stationed in South Korea and Japan and Germany.  It took decades for those situations to resolve into stable democracies that no longer needed American support. And to be fair, the purpose of continued American military presence in those locations has changed over time. But to think the situation would require any less in either Iraq or Afghanistan is foolhardy.

So the rationale for a pullout conflicts with some of the side goals of Afghanistan, but since they were decided as goals at one point, pulling out prematurely was an invitation to disaster. The only way to avoid that would have been that there was a plan made, to transition power to a self supporting Afghani government capable of at least suppressing the Taliban  if not eradicating it.  The plan should have started about 10 years ago.  It wasn't.  President Trump should have included it as part of his withdrawal model.  He didn't, even though he likely had more of a plan than this chaos.  The next guy should have at least had some basic plan for a transition of power and assets.  He failed spectacularly and Afghani people will pay the price for his colossal failure.

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