What Will Be the Aftermath of an Afghanistan Debacle?
In Afghanistan, the mission failure appears complete.
The trillion-dollar project to plant Western democracy in a Muslim nation historically fabled for driving out imperial intruders has crashed and burned after 20 years, and the Taliban are suddenly back in power.
After investing scores of billions in training and arming a force of 350,000 Afghani troops, the U.S. could not stand up an army and a government that could survive our departure.
And the final U.S. departure from Hamid Karzai International Airport may become, like JFK's Bay of Pigs, a synonym for American debacle.
Nor is the failure ours alone. Many of our principal allies were heavily invested. The British are now attempting to bring their people out of Kabul under the same conditions as ours.
The leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel's party and possibly the next chancellor of Germany, Armin Laschet, calls the withdrawal "the biggest debacle that NATO has suffered since its founding."
Three decades ago, after the breakup of the USSR and the end of the Cold War, Republican Sen. Richard Lugar said that NATO, having lost the rationale for its existence -- containment of the Soviet Union -- would now have "to go out of area or go out of business."
Cynics might say that, in Afghanistan, NATO did both.
After 9/11, "the most successful alliance in history" invoked Article 5 and backed the U.S. war to oust the Taliban and annihilate the Al Qaeda terrorists who had carried out 9/11. Many sent troops.
But there could be worse to come.