Pessimists have warned about a Saigon-style helicopter retreat from the US embassy for a while now. But most didn’t really think it could happen. Until Sunday.
Ironically, those failures served to prove Biden’s rationale for leaving — that no amount of US blood and treasure could ever make Afghanistan a functioning, unified nation — at least the one dreamed of by US foreign policy planners. Like Iraq and Libya, Afghanistan has found out that in the modern era, America’s zeal to get into wars is only exceeded by its rush to get out of them, no matter the mess that is left behind.
Also spare a thought for the families of Afghan civilians killed by misdirected US fire. Or the relatives of Americans and allied troops from Canada, Britain, Italy, Australia and elsewhere who perished or left limbs on Afghan battlefields.
America’s global reputation is meanwhile in for a shredding. The President who just toured Europe promising that “America is back” after the poison of the Trump years is presiding over a humiliating defeat. And Biden’s vows to fight for global democracy are now undermined by his own abandonment by a US-backed democratic government in Kabul.
It’s not all Biden’s fault. He’s carrying the can for the messy exit. Four US administrations tried covert warfare, bombing blitzes, occupation, nation building, troop surges, counter-insurgencies and troop drawdowns on Washington’s arbitrary timetables. It all led up to today.
The question “what was it all for” is best answered by another one: Was US intervention ever going to end any other way?
‘This is not Saigon’