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Biden unites us

The president’s Afghanistan pullout creates political common ground


President Joe Biden AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Biden unites us

Joe Biden in January said he’d work hard to bring Americans together. Congratulations, Mr. President. You’ve succeeded: Looks like everyone (except those on the far left and the ultra-far right, a few Taliban fans) is against your decision to abandon Afghans who allied with us.

The analysis I take most seriously is by people who have been at ground level and have ground through years of careful observation. One of the true experts is WORLD’s Mindy Belz: Her article yesterday is important reading. Another, by Britain’s former secretary of state for international development, is in The Washington Post.

I identified Rory Stewart by his impressive title first, but that’s not what makes me value his observations. Stewart’s outstanding book, The Places in Between, tells of his 36-day solo walk across Afghanistan early in 2002. Stewart also ran a Kabul-based foundation for three years. He knows that country and cares about the human beings in it.

Here’s part of what the Post, up to now a public relations arm of the Biden administration, gave him room to write: “U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan formally ended in 2014; troop levels had decreased to about 2,500; and there have been no American combat fatalities since February 2020.

“When he became president, Biden took over a relatively low-cost, low-risk presence in Afghanistan that was nevertheless capable of protecting the achievements of the previous 20 years. …

“... So long as the United States and other members of the NATO alliance provided strategic command structures and air support from their bases, the Afghan security forces were able to contain the Taliban in rural areas and protect major cities. The lighter American footprint was sufficient also to preserve the fragile stability of Afghanistan. …

“... Biden and his team pretended it was still 2009 and presented his decision to withdraw as freeing Americans from the high-casualty, budget-breaking operations of a ‘forever war.’ He made little effort to explain how moderate the U.S. and NATO presence in Afghanistan has been in recent years. …

“Two decades of multilateral cooperation and, in many individual cases, long-standing relationships of respect and trust have been shattered. …

“... Afghanistan and American foreign policy interests have been cruelly, recklessly, and unnecessarily betrayed.”

Thus the testimony of two eyewitnesses, Mindy Belz and Rory Stewart.


Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD and dean of World Journalism Institute. He joined WORLD in 1992 and has also been a university professor and provost. He has written more than 20 books, including Reforming Journalism.

@MarvinOlasky

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ED SCHICK

Good facts and perspectives on the Afghanistan situation. I echo VoiceofReason’s comments that it would be great if reporters, especially WORLD reporters had better sources that give truthful insight rather than parroting the mainstream media’s never-ending leftist, Democrat spin. While Mr. Olasky’s poke at the Washington Post’s brief moment of lucidity is entertaining, people should not be as concerned about political unity as having a non-partisan, no-spin perspectives on crucial topics like this all the time. Elections do have consequences in putting leaders in places that demand good decisions and not political calculations. No doubt there will be further analysis of this and hopefully future presidents will heed the better wisdom offered to them. At this point, President Biden is undeterred in following the kind of thinking that led to the collapse of what little stability Afghanistan has enjoyed in recent decades.

voiceofreason

Thank you. I really appreciate this 'after-the-fact' reporting, even though I would have liked to have understood this sooner - although my knowledge wouldn't make a difference, I suppose.

I rely on The Sift - possibly too heavily - and am disappointed that this is the first time I have understood what the current situation in Afghanistan was, as contrasted with what our administration in Washington was saying.

Quite frankly, my support of World would probably be as strong as it was earlier, if I were not reading The Sift - which sometimes reports in words nearly identical to an AP report I've read earlier. I'm not impressed by that.

I'm at a loss as to how I can get the information I seek, without spending huge amounts of time reading massive amounts of material - which I am unable to do.

The above article was very brief (it could have been fit into The Sift), and told me something I needed to understand.

Thank you.

FIMIKIvoiceofreason

I really like The Sift and it's how I start my news day too. I think everyone regrets not thinking harder about the Afghanistan withdrawal. The problem is that conceptually it was something everyone wanted to happen; up 'till recently key GOP figures were actually praising Biden on following through with Trump's intent to get out of the country. Yes there were voices expressing dissent and dismay but many dismissed them as neocons and RINOs who cared more for their pet projects and delusions of American grandeur than anything else. We'd much rather talk about CRT and COVID and other domestic issues than foreign policy machinations in a place we'd forgotten about years ago. It was really saddening for me to read one conservative blogger express grim satisfaction at the unfolding chaos in Afghanistan because it confirmed his perspective of a woke America in decline and the false respect people had for its military. I fear the world will suffer much as America's attention turns inward in bitter self-loathing. May this tragedy awaken a sense of shared duty and responsibility to each other and our allies that we seem to have forgotten.

SJS

Thanks Marvin. I did not know some of these details but this all confirms what I've been thinking.
BTW I love the title of your piece. You know you are in for a long hall when so many who have supported you no longer do. I wonder where this "unity" will lead...