Yesterday, Joe Biden told a lot of Americans what they don't want to hear. Jennifer Rubin writes:
As he began, he sounded pugnacious if not angry. “I was not going to extend this forever war. And I was not going to extend a forever exit,” he said. He praised U.S. troops and diplomats who risked their lives to save more than 120,000 lives, impressing upon Americans the magnitude of the evacuation effort. For critics who point to thousands of Afghans who will live in misery, he explained that no country has done more to airlift allies to safety after losing a war. Regarding Americans still there, he argued there is “no deadline” to get them out. Getting those Americans out will be vital to retaining his credibility.
He then launched into a point-by-point rebuttal of his critics’ main claims. “Some say we should have started mass evacuations sooner, and couldn’t this have been done in a more orderly manner. I respectfully disagree.” The chaos would have started then, he argued. He also insisted that “there is no evacuation you can run at the end of a war without the complexities, challenges, threats we faced, none.” His concession that the projection for how long the Afghan government and military would be able to hold was “inaccurate” will go down as a world-class understatement.
Speaking to critics who argue the United States could’ve secured Afghanistan at low cost and low risk, he said, “I don’t think enough people understand how much we’ve asked of the one percent of this country who put that uniform on.” This was both Biden the president and Biden the father speaking. He understands how the war chewed through American lives and families for no discernible gain. “There is nothing low-grade or low-risk or low-cost about any war,” he said.
Americans don't like to lose a war. But, in the last fifty years, they have lost quite a few. Some Americans continue to believe that the greatest nation on earth simply can't lose a war. The most important thing that Biden said was that "the era of nation-building is over." That has been the central thrust of American foreign policy for over fifty years. And that is why the United States has got so much wrong.
Sometimes, it's really hard to hear -- and accept -- the truth
Image: The New Republic