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Biden’s Afghanistan Fiasco is Also Trump’s Fault and Obama’s and ... ugh, Nuance is Hard

Rex Huppke, Tribune Content Agency on

As a VERY IMPORTANT voice in the American pundit-sphere, I would like to apologize for not offering a near-instantaneous opinion on President Joe Biden’s handling of the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Under the rules by which modern-day opinion-havers are bound, the moment the situation in Afghanistan became chaotic, I had two choices: pretend I’m an expert in foreign policy and sharply condemn Biden for abject incompetence, or pretend I’m an expert in foreign policy and defend Biden while blaming someone else. I did neither of those things, and for that, I can only beg forgiveness.

It was foolish of me to stand back and attempt to gain a fuller sense of what went wrong over the past 20 years of a military quagmire in a country known as “the graveyard of empires.” My responsibility was to react to the tragic and confounding televised mess that was unfolding and offer a forceful condemnation (or defense) of the current commander in chief while avoiding nettlesome issues like context, uncertainty, time and facts.

Moreover, as a liberal columnist, this was a perfect opportunity for me to highlight my bipartisan bona fides by taking a Democratic president to the prose woodshed. It says on page 1 of the Political Cognoscenti Handbook that one must leap wildly at any opportunity to appear willing to lambaste both sides. Clearly, I allowed my senses to be dulled by an immature desire to fully understand what I was decrying, and for that I deserve every ounce of opprobrium I get.

What did I think I was going to find? Nuance? That’s absurd.

Rather than boldly and blindly opining, I fell into a swirl of confusion and self-reflection.

 

Here’s all that I’ve learned since my inexcusable failure to shout:

Biden and his administration certainly screwed up. There’s no way to look at the obscenely swift fall of Afghanistan back into Taliban hands and the horrible scenes of both Americans and Afghan allies trying to escape the country and say: “Nice job, Joe! Nailed it.”

Whether the intelligence was bad or the president was stubbornly committed to getting troops out before the Sept. 11 anniversary, the lack of preparation is inexplicable and the unwillingness to halt the retreat and get better control of things when it all went south seems like strategic — and political — malpractice.

The one thing Biden and Co. should’ve wanted to avoid was a comparison to the American military exit from the Vietnam War. But that’s exactly what they got.

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