drew68_The White House via Getty Images_bidennationalsecurityafghanistan The White House via Getty Images

Joe Biden's Afghan Nightmare

A shaken Biden administration is now trying to change the subject away from Afghanistan by turning to domestic issues. But extricating itself from the consequences of its Afghanistan decisions, however warranted, may take longer than the administration envisions.

WASHINGTON, DC – It is far from clear that President Joe Biden deserves the obloquy heaped on him for the US evacuation from Afghanistan. This is especially true given the endings of other American wars, and the nearly impossible situation confronting him – in particular, that the Kabul airport is located within a city of millions which had just come under Taliban control.

The repetitive airing of scenes of panicked Afghans clinging to C-17 cargo planes after this was no longer happening made for far more dramatic, but misleading, scenes than the smooth take-offs that followed during the next 17 days of evacuation, yet news programs kept rerunning those chaotic images, creating an impression of Biden as hapless. Yet, some 120,000 people – including troops of US allies as well as Afghans who had helped the US cause – were evacuated by air from Kabul, a logistical triumph.

Since Biden chose to end the evacuation by August 31, the date he had set, a few hundred Americans – some not ready to depart, many unable to reach Kabul airport – as well as hundreds of Afghans who had worked with the United States, were left behind. (A few have been evacuated since.) But Biden faced only bad choices. Had he prolonged America’s presence, US troops and those of allies would have been put at more risk, especially from the murderous Islamic State (ISIS) offshoot that had begun a campaign of suicide bombings.

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Update Sep 9, 2021 14:55UTC

The last sentence was updated for clarity.

Update Sep 9, 2021 14:54UTC

The word "maudlin" was deleted from the sixth paragraph.

Update Sep 9, 2021 14:53UTC

The second paragraph was updated for clarity.

Update Sep 9, 2021 14:53UTC

Tim Kaine's quotes were updated.