Let’s not pretend that the way we withdrew from Afghanistan was the problem

Let’s not pretend that the way we withdrew from Afghanistan was the problem
Taliban members dressed as 'special forces' (Image: RTA TV/AFP)

[Ed. – Among the lame excuses that will be made for Joe Biden’s total mismanagement of the withdrawal, this one deserves an award for creativity.]

In 2005, two of my colleagues at The American Prospect, Sam Rosenfeld and Matt Yglesias, wrote an essay I think about often. It was called “The Incompetence Dodge,” and it argued that American policymakers and pundits routinely try to rescue the reputation of bad ideas by attributing their failure to poor execution. At the time, they were writing about the liberal hawks who were blaming the catastrophe of the Iraq war on the Bush administration’s maladministration rather than rethinking the enterprise in its totality. But the same dynamic suffuses the recriminations over the Afghanistan withdrawal.

To state the obvious: There was no good way to lose Afghanistan to the Taliban. A better withdrawal was possible — and our stingy, chaotic visa process was unforgivable — but so was a worse one. Either way, there was no hope of an end to the war that didn’t reveal our decades of folly. …

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