The United States war in Afghanistan was never winnable. One only needs to look at lessons learned from the incursions of Alexander the Great in 332 BCE to the British experience and ultimate defeat there (1839 - 1842) to the Russian fiasco in the 1980s to know that any war against the Afghans and perhaps more specifically the Pashtuns, was never winnable. Sure there were some claimed military battle victories, but no one could win over the people militarily. Not even some 300,000 highly trained Afghan troops will be able to defend their corrupt government against the passionate religious zeal of the Taliban. I'm sure there were scholars in the Bush administration that knew that, but got us bogged down anyway in a war that only the military contractors would ultimately win.
And once we were in, it proved near impossible to extract ourselves given the American psyche about "not losing a war". Obama listened to his generals instead of Biden knowing that he would be labeled a loser if he withdrew. Ditto for Trump pretending to set a withdrawal date for Biden, but likewise not wanting the stigma of loser attached to him.
The cranage to follow with the Taliban seeking retribution was entirely predictable from Day 1. The Republicans will politicize the withdrawal pointing to every human casualty of a post-war Afghanistan as being on Biden's head.
For each American president it was in effect a conflict between the Taliban's resiliency and the American war psyche. American presidents could not win the hearts and minds of the Taliban in Afghanistan, but at home they could never appease the war hawks in Congress who are now calling for war against Iran.
President Biden made the right decision to withdraw, but he might pay a high price at home for that decision. There are still many Americans amongst us that believe the Vietnam war was winnable. Much of the American public treated those returning soldiers as losers.
Heather Cox Richardson echoed your comments last night, since both the Republicans and the Democrats missed opportunities to solve the crisis.
Biden was never comfortable with the war, but was put into a predicament by Trump.
To end a military commitment that journalist Dexter Filkins dubbed the “forever war,” former president Donald Trump sent officials to negotiate with the Taliban, and in February 2020 the U.S. agreed to withdraw all U.S. troops, along with NATO allies, by May 1, so long as the Taliban stopped attacking U.S. troops and cut ties with terrorists.He also invited the Taliban to Camp David for peace talks - which never took place.
The U.S. did not include the Afghan government in the talks that led to the deal, leaving it to negotiate its own terms with the Taliban after the U.S. had already announced it was heading home. Observers at the time were concerned that the U.S. withdrawal would essentially allow the Taliban to retake control of the country, where the previous 20 years had permitted the reestablishment of stability and women’s rights. Indeed, almost immediately, Taliban militants began an assassination campaign against Afghan leaders, although they did not kill any American soldiers after the deal was signed.
Meanwhile, by announcing their intentions, American officials took pressure off the Taliban to negotiate with Afghan leaders. The Pentagon’s inspector general noted in February that “The Taliban intends to stall the negotiations until U.S. and coalition forces withdraw so that it can seek a decisive military victory over the Afghan government.”
Hoping to win voters with this deal to end the war, the Trump administration celebrated the agreement. In September, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted, “A vote for Joe is a vote for forever war in the Middle East. A vote for Donald Trump is a vote to finally bring our troops home.” Then–Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested the U.S. would have “zero” troops left in Afghanistan by spring 2021.
Instead of using troops, Biden has focused on cutting off the flow of money to terrorists through financial and economic sanctions. (Today, a U.S. official told CNN that the “vast majority” of the assets of Afghanistan’s central bank are not held in Afghanistan and that the U.S. will freeze whatever assets are in the U.S.)
As the U.S. pulled out of the country, the Afghan military simply melted away. Regional capitals fell to the Taliban with little resistance, and Kabul today fell with similar ease. Just five weeks after Biden’s July speech, the Afghan president has left the country and the Taliban is in power.
So eager are Republicans to rewrite history that they are literally erasing it. Tonight, Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel noticed that the Republican National Committee has scrubbed from its website a section celebrating the deal the Trump administration cut with the Taliban and praising Trump for taking “the lead in peace talks as he signed a historic peace agreement with the Taliban in Afghanistan, which would end America’s longest war.”
Naturally, Trump was quick to criticize Biden:
Former President Donald Trump Sunday called on President Biden to “resign in disgrace” over his handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal and other issues.
“It is time for Joe Biden to resign in disgrace for what he has allowed to happen to Afghanistan, along with the tremendous surge in COVID, the Border catastrophe, the destruction of energy independence, and our crippled economy,” the former president wrote in a statement.
The Taliban have rapidly taken control of most of the country as insurgent forces enter the capital city of Kabul, where US troops have been sent to evacuate the embassy.
Trump ignores the fact that (1) the surge is increasing primarily in "red" states that have low numbers of vaccinated people (2) Trump was the guy that created the border crisis, (3) by stressing "green power", Biden is making us less dependent on foreign oil and (4) the economy is doing fine (see the BBC link at the bottom of the page).
None of those facts matter to Trump supporters, who believe everything they hear on FOX.
The economy under Biden: