There’s plenty of blame to go around for Afghanistan
With America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan (mostly) complete, one might think the diplomatic and military establishments that were so deeply involved in the 20 year-long conflict would take a moment to reflect on their performance.
As Cato’s Ted Galen Carpenter writes, there are doing no such thing. Instead, the policy “elites” are busily trying to blame others for their own litany of failure:
The emphasis of both Biden and his adversaries on shifting blame away from themselves is unsurprising but annoying. There is more than enough justifiable blame to go around. The Afghanistan fiasco was a long time in the making. It goes all the way back to the late 1970s when Jimmy Carter’s administration followed the advice of Zbigniew Brzezinski and adopted a strategy forcing Moscow to increase its support for its Afghan client regime as a way to then bleed Washington’s superpower rival. The resulting destabilization of Afghanistan helped pave the way for the rise of the Taliban. George W. Bush’s administration transformed a limited, punitive intervention against Al Qaeda and the Taliban into an utterly impractical nation‐building crusade to transform Afghanistan into a modern, secular country closely allied to the United States. The Obama and Trump administrations deserve a share of the blame for persisting in that quixotic venture, despite giving repeated promises to the American people that they would bring the troops home. US military and intelligence officials should be held to account for repeatedly misrepresenting the situation on the ground to Congress and the public. Finally, President Biden deserves both credit and blame. He was sensible and courageous for biting the bullet and finally pulling US troops out of Afghanistan, but he also did a terrible job of implementing his decision.
Rather than any of the various parties demonstrating a willingness to acknowledge their culpability, though, all factions in America’s political and policy elites are doing their utmost to avoid accountability.
It’s a defensive reaction that, traditionally, has been very successful, allowing policy wonks to drag the nation from one quagmire to the next, spilling blood and treasure at every stop. But avoiding accountability (never mind consequences).