From the Left



Joe Biden's War

Susan Estrich on

What is there to say about the disastrous pullout from Kabul? The Taliban will stop at nothing. There is no respect for human life -- not only of our soldiers but also of their fellow citizens.

Thursday's suicide bombing, killing 13 American troops and scores of Afghans, only makes that clear.

Meanwhile, misinformation is everywhere, as former President Donald Trump's defenders try to pin the blame for 20 years of failure on the president who has been in office for a matter of months, not years.

An Instagram post, corrected yesterday, claimed that not a single American soldier died during the last year of the Trump administration. "There wasn't a SINGLE American casualty in Afghanistan the last year and a half of the Trump admin. The Taliban FEARED President Trump and KNEW he would annihilate them, if they breached their peaceful exit negotiation. The blood is on Biden's hands."

Not so. Eleven service members were killed in Afghanistan in 2020. In 2019, 23 service members were killed, 17 of them in combat. Until this week, no service members were killed in 2021.

It was the Trump administration that negotiated the agreement with the Taliban, setting a May 1 deadline for the withdrawal of all American troops. The Biden administration extended that deadline to Aug. 31.


What went wrong? The Taliban managed to take over the country with virtually no resistance. Afghan military forces, after 20 years of support by us, simply collapsed. The Afghan government fell in a matter of days. What might have been an orderly evacuation devolved into chaos.

The scenes at the airport reminded those of us who were old enough of the scenes of helicopters evacuating American forces from Saigon after our failed effort at nation building. The debunked domino theory held that if we didn't stop the communists in Vietnam, all of Southeast Asia would fall.

President Richard Nixon and his administration held to the domino theory until they didn't. There were massive protests at home. Protesting college students were killed by the National Guard in Ohio, at Kent State. John Kerry, the former senator and presidential candidate, led the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. He was a hero of the antiwar movement. The tide had turned against the war by the time Nixon declared the war over.

American intelligence failed to predict the speed with which the country would fold in the face of the Taliban. In that sense, it was reminiscent of the search for weapons of mass destruction that simply weren't there.


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