The images out of Afghanistan have been gut-wrenching. And Joe Biden has gotten -- and will continue to get -- a lot of blowback. Michelle Goldberg writes:
There are two primary critiques of Biden’s Afghan policy. The first, which is valid, blames the administration for not clearing bureaucratic obstacles that kept Afghan allies waiting for visas, possibly stranding tens of thousands of people who deserve to be evacuated. The second, which is absurd, blames Biden for defeat in a war that was lost years ago.
The journalist James Fallows claims that the war was lost when the United States invaded Iraq. It was also lost when the U.S. established a corrupt government in Kabul -- which has been killing Afghani civilians for twenty years:
Maybe American violence in Afghanistan could be justified if it were improving the average Afghan’s life. But often we seem to have made people’s lives harder. The most recent report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction paints a damning picture of two decades of American efforts in Afghanistan: “U.S. officials often empowered power brokers who preyed on the population or diverted U.S. assistance away from its intended recipients to enrich and empower themselves and their allies. Lack of knowledge at the local level meant projects intended to mitigate conflict often exacerbated it, and even inadvertently funded insurgents.”
The ugly truth is that there is no antiseptic way to end a war:
There was never a decent way to leave the country, which is why we fought a futile war for 20 years. But there also wasn’t a decent way to stay.
John Kerry's question rings as loudly as it did fifty years ago: How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?
Image: The Boston Globe