Kabul: Memories of Saigon (2)

My access to classified intelligence ended almost thirty years ago when I retired from the government, so I have no way of knowing whether our intelligence officers accurately predicted how quickly Afghanistan would fall when U.S. forces were withdrawn. But my knowledge of and respect for intelligence experts in the U.S. government strongly suggests that the available intelligence accurately foretold what would happen. My guess is that the intelligence predictions were ignored.

Given the dire consequence of our withdrawal (which were almost certainly known in advance), why did Biden do it? We have maintained troop strength in a variety of countries around the world—Germany, Japan, and Korea come immediately to mind—so why desert Afghanistan and leave its population, and especially its women, to the tender mercies of the Taliban?

And why did Biden do it so precipitously? Why not withdraw slowly, leaving behind enough force to discourage a Taliban takeover? Biden was not bound by Trump’s foolish plans, nor was he forced to adhere to an agreement that the Taliban had already flagrantly violated. He could have made decisions that avoided calamity but forewent that choice.

The 1975 fall of Saigon and our failure to rescue thousands who worked with us will always be an episode of shame in U.S. history. In the same way, the collapse of Afghanistan and the cruelty to which its population will be subjected overshadow all the achievements of the Biden administration. History will record the Afghan disaster as the primary black mark of Biden’s rule.

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