The Biden administration is scrambling to evacuate Americans from the embassy. Comparisons to the fall of Saigon are everywhere.
The Taliban’s swift marches through Afghanistan have already gotten them to the capital city of Kabul, where they seek “unconditional surrender of the central government.”
- Despite nearly two decades of training, billions in aid, and fighting side by side with American forces, many have been taken by surprise at how quickly the Afghan military gave up territory to the Taliban after America’s withdrawal.
- The biggest concern among American officials appears to be evacuating Afghans with whom they worked closely since 2001: interpreters, local officials, and their families who are likely to be severely punished or even killed once Taliban control is solidified.
- With nearly all troops gone and the remaining diplomats scrambling to leave, the blame game in America has commenced: GOP Rep Liz Cheney blames both the Trump administration for beginning negotiations for withdrawal with terrorists and the Biden administration for abandoning it.
- President Biden released a statement blaming his predecessor, President Trump, for the deteriorating situation, saying Trump left the Taliban “in the strongest position militarily since 2001.
- CNN reported that with the Taliban entering Kabul, the United States will be evacuating all embassy personnel in the next 72 hours, bringing back visions of the fall of Saigon as American helicopters lifted from the embassy in Vietnam.
- Colbert King, columnist for the Washington Post, painted the picture more explicitly, writing we are likely to see Saigon-esque visuals and that it was entirely predicted, with fits and starts of Afghanistan policy that revealed “Afghan security forces didn’t fend for themselves, and the Taliban kept on taking territory” in 2014.
- American Enterprise Institute fellow Frederick Kagan wrote in the New York Times opinion section arguing against Washington Post’s King, saying it was not inevitable, that President Biden did not have to adhere to the agreement made between the Trump administration and the Taliban.
- The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board argued for the impossible: President Biden conducting a 180 on his Afghanistan policy by increasing troop presence to a level that keeps Bagram air base secure while the United States conducts air support for the Afghan army.
- Former national security official for the Trump administration and Fox News contributor K.T. MacFarland argued at FoxNews.com that Afghanistan was always difficult terrain geopolitically, that the Taliban “were always going to prevail” and Biden’s folly is believing a core group of American diplomats are enough to prevent the Taliban from ravaging the capital.
- Newsmax highlighted former President Trump’s criticism of Biden we, saying “Joe Biden gets it wrong every time on foreign policy.”
Perhaps this was the inevitable conclusion of our two decades in Afghanistan, and there never was a scenario to “win.” That does not make it any less depressing or sad.
© Dallas Gerber, 2021