People walk next to a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport aircraft that flies over a runway at Kabul airport on Monday. Hide verified UGC via AP subtitles
Verified UGC via AP
Verified UGC via AP
If there’s one thing an American president doesn’t want to see, it’s the pictures that have been featured on the cable news of the chaos in Kabul – crowded catwalks of people desperate to get off, and some hanging on the outside of the US – Freight planes and, for those lucky enough to get in, crammed on the ground.
The Afghan people face humanitarian concerns. But the disorganization and confusion of President Biden’s full US military withdrawal from Afghanistan has also put him in a political hole. After doing what three presidents before him didn’t – or wouldn’t do – even if they stood up for it, Biden faces a bipartisan backlash.
On Monday he took on some level of responsibility and said the “buck” was stopping with him, but blamed Afghan leaders and forces and defended the larger political direction.
“American troops cannot and should not fight in a war and die in a war that the Afghan armed forces are unwilling to wage for themselves,” Biden said, referring to the $ 1 trillion and nearly 20 years that the US has spent since 9/11 attacks.
Here are six takeaways on what the withdrawal could mean for Biden:
1. The chaotic retreat contradicts Biden’s narrative of competencies
If Biden took action against former President Donald Trump in 2020, it was the idea that he knows how to govern competently. It was an underpinning of what his presidency should stand for – as an antithesis of Trump.
What happened in Afghanistan last week – where troops were sent back to help with the evacuation – is a blow to the narrative, even if the political direction in the long run is one that Americans agree with.
2. Presidents should never make rosy assessments or predictions
Biden promised that the US would leave Afghanistan in a safe and orderly fashion; There will be no rush to get out and a takeover of the whole country by the Taliban is “very unlikely” – let alone so quickly.
It all turned out to be wrong. And it’s not the first time during his presidency. In his July 4th speech, Biden warned of the Delta variant, but also stated that the US is moving towards “independence” from the coronavirus. Then Delta drove this recent surge.
It’s a lesson Biden should have learned in his decades in Washington, DC – it’s never a good idea for a president to make predictions over which he has no control.
Had Biden been more careful in assessing the withdrawal, the political backlash may not have come so quickly.
3. Biden reflects a new consensus that America is turning inward
America’s role in the world after World War II was defined by an alliance with Western democracies and a Cold War against Russia. But since the fall of the Iron Curtain and 9/11, the US role in the world has been less clearly defined.
After years of war, economic turmoil, and a pandemic, America seems poised to turn inward and focus more on its internal problems.
Biden’s foreign policy doctrine is not exactly Trump’s “America First”. He has re-allied with traditional US allies and wants to be respected by world leaders. But he directs his focus far more on domestic politics and withdraws internationally than Biden, who was chairman of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee.
4. Despite the negative coverage, the Americans still don’t seem to want to stay in Afghanistan
Americans found the war in Afghanistan unpopular for a long time until they turned inward.
A quick poll of the weekend’s events found that while support for full withdrawal fell dramatically, a majority – about half – still wanted to get out and little more than a third of Americans want to stay. Other polls have previously shown that Americans have little obligation to the people or government of Afghanistan or to ensuring democracy there.
Expect sentiments towards Afghanistan to get a little more partisan given the attention it receives, and it will be interesting to see how these numbers level off over the next few weeks and months.
5. The real test for Biden is whether terrorist groups are able to reconstruct and attack Americans
Biden noted that the US focus should be on counterterrorism, not nation-building, especially given the original mission in Afghanistan after 9/11.
“We’re doing this in many other countries around the world where we don’t have boots locally,” said NPR senior administrator Franco Ordoñez on Monday. “We are doing this in Somalia. We are doing this in Yemen. We are doing this in parts of Syria. We are doing this in other parts of eastern North Africa. We are doing this in places where we have no boots locally.”
Given the history of the Taliban, who took cover from al-Qaeda and now with no US military presence, this will be the test for Biden of success (or failure) on his Afghanistan policy. And how could what happened last week mean how other bad actors test Biden?
6. The Democrats’ clock on their domestic agenda is starting to tick faster
The Afghanistan withdrawal is just another item on the plate of the attacks against Biden and the Democrats. Even before that, history and redistribution have been on the Republican side, and Republicans and Democrats are beginning to paint a picture of a likely Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in 2022.
That said, as the fog of this week’s events in Afghanistan begins to clear and focus returns to the Democrats’ domestic agenda, the multi-trillion dollar spending deals are likely to gain urgency as they may be the last thing to do. what the Democrats can do before the next presidential election.