The Runback: An Epic and Bipartisan Disaster
The Trump-Biden Abandonment of Afghanistan is the worst U.S. foreign policy debacle in a generation
Welcome to another week of The Runback. Have you been enjoying The Duckpin? Do you have comments or suggestions? Do you want to write for us? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. And please be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Thanks in advance.
This week we talk with Nathan Volke, Anne Arundel County Councilman and possible Republican candidate for Anne Arundel County Executive.
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News and Politics
Questions Mount about Frederick County Conservative Club's Tax Status: Activities of the Controversial Group may violate their status, Articles of Incorporation.
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Cox Continues Constancy and Clownish Conspiracy Chatter: It's not a state issue, but the Frederick County Delegate is continuing to carry Donald Trump's Water.
Luedtke’s Union Handout Goes National: Democrats once again lining up to do Big Labor's Bidding.
Orioles Target of Unfair Scorn: Mike Elias is rebuilding this club the right way. They hasn't stopped national media from dogpiling.
In my column this week for The Capital and the Carroll County Times, I encourage all people of all parties to consider running for office.
The Monday Thought
Unless you’ve been living under a rock or canoeing through the Grand Canyon, you already know that Kabul fell yesterday. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled to Tajikistan to begin his exile. The Taliban are now officially back in charge in Afghanistan.
You may remember that the United States quickly routed the Taliban in less than two months in 2001. Afghanistan had a non-fundamentalist government for the last twenty years, with U.S. support. Yet, despite twenty years of U.S. involvement and training of Afghan troops, we still had this scene Sunday morning eerily reminiscent of the Fall of Saigon.
The Fall of Kabul is actually worse than the Fall of Saigon in a lot of ways since the Taliban are now in possession of a lot of U.S. war materiel.
One can argue about the why of the Afghanistan war, or whether or not we should have stayed as long as we have, or whether what we did was effective. There are reasonable arguments on both sides. But what we do know is this; after twenty years, $2 trillion, and 2,420 American deaths, we’re back to status quo antebellum.
The fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban is not owned by one party. It is a rare foreign policy failure that is bipartisan in nature.
A lot of Trump loyalists are blaming President Joe Biden for the drastic defeat of the elected Afghan government. And trust me, this happened on Biden’s watch. It was Biden who determined that the U.S. was going to hastily withdraw from Afghanistan without seemingly much of a plan. There was no plan to get our Afghan allies, those who risked life and limb to help Afghanistan a better country, out before the Taliban took over. Joe Biden has basically sentenced those who worked with the U.S. to death because the Administration could not get its act together. It’s not like this was a surprise to them:
Over the last 20 years, thousands of Afghans worked with U.S. and NATO forces as interpreters, cultural advisers, etc. They chose to do so knowing that they put their lives and the lives of their families at risk. The Taliban knows who most of them are and will find out about the rest soon enough. Scores have been assassinated over the years. The Taliban has lists of people it plans to kill. Interpreters are at the top of the list, but so are countless others who worked with Western organizations and governments to stand up a (sadly corrupt) democratic government, as well as schools and other civil society projects.
Even if you’re not compelled by the moral argument, telegraphing to the world that it’s not worth working with Americans is a strategic blunder of monumental proportions. And an utterly foreseeable one.
The Administration did just have no plan to get the interpreters out. They seem to have not had a plan to evacuate Americans either. There have been reports of American citizens in Afghanistan who are stuck on the wrong side of Taliban checkpoints with no way of getting past them or too the airport. Not that the Airport is able to get flights off of the ground, anyway.
This is a strategic and logistical failure of epic proportions.
But before you assign Joe Biden all of the blame for this, let us take you back to the Trump Administration. After all, withdrawal from Afghanistan was one of the stated goals of Trump when he ran for President in the first place.
Remember, that it was Donald Trump who was the first President to ever negotiate with terrorists. It was Donald Trump who invited the Taliban to come to Camp David. And it was the Trump Administration that ultimately signed a peace deal with the Taliban, a group that at the time of the deal and to this day is still recognized by the United States as a terrorist organization.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo thinks that blame for the Trump Administration is misplaced and he thinks we should bomb the Taliban into submission. And yet, here’s a photo of Pompeo hanging out with the Taliban’s top dog during the peace deal that brought forth this withdrawal.
Veterans of the Trump Administration and Trump loyalists may complain about the “blame shifting” of the Biden Administration, and as I said they are right to a point. But the Biden Administration was merely implementing (poorly) a deal that was put in place by the Trump Administration. A deal that the Republican National Committee is trying to memory-hole from its website.
Should Biden have torn up the agreement with the Taliban? Of course, the agreement should never have been made in the first place. But the Biden Administration owned it the second they decided to continue with it. At the end of the day, Team Trump and Team Biden get what they want; the U.S. out of Afghanistan, the consequences be damned.
The Trump-Biden Abandonment of Afghanistan is the worst U.S. foreign policy debacle in a generation. The world is a more dangerous place today because of it.