Who is to Blame for the Failure in Afghanistan?
The withdrawal from Afghanistan has become an absolute shitshow, and there is plenty of blame to go around.
Of course, President Biden is to blame for the chaotic manner in which the withdrawal has unfolded. He ignored intelligence summaries that warned of the momentum shift taking place and the Afghan governments tenuous position. He abandoned Bagram, the secure military airbase, before evacuations began, and started those evacuations only after Kabul fell to the Taliban. His lack of basic strategy and planning can only be understood as gross incompetence, which makes one question his fitness to be the commander in chief of our armed forces.
Biden's predecessors share the guilt for the situation they bequeathed him.
Bush/Cheney invaded Iraq, shifting resources and attention away from the war in Afghanistan and set in motion a chain of events that would ensure Operation Enduring Freedom would never get the focus needed to accomplish the mission.
Obama began retrograde operations far too early, without ensuring the long-term viability of the Afghan military; he allowed the corruption in the government and military to fester and failed to provide the logistical support and accountability that the Afghans needed to become a true military force.
Trump neglected and ignored the situation in Afghanistan, more intent on scoring political victories with his base on keeping with his campaign promise of ending the war than ensuring the sacrifices of the American military would not be in vain.
Every president that has led during the war has failed to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation on the ground. None of them have committed to a course of action that would lead to the desired outcome of a stable, free Afghanistan that would respect human rights and no longer serve as a terrorist safehaven.
While each of these leaders deserves blame for the situation that has been unfolding in recent weeks, no one deserves blame more than the career officers and staff that have failed to provide sound, actionable advice to them. Each of these supposed experts has built their careers on the backs of the troops that were asked to sacrifice their bodies, families, and lives for this war. When they retire, many of these senior leaders have been able to land comfortable positions on the boards of the defense corporations that their policies served to enrich. Despite their collective incompetence, these leaders somehow always land on their feet while enlisted personnel frequently find themselves struggling to make ends meet once they transition out. It's disgusting.
I wonder what accountability these leaders will face, if any. Will Americans finally wise up to the military industrial complex that siphoned billions and billions from our treasury to fuel a war that ended so ignominiously? Will voters remember the absolute incompetence of our civilian and military leadership the next time they start beating the war drums? Will history judge these leaders accordingly?
Honestly, I'm not hopeful. The American populace has an incredibly short attention span and it is only a matter of time until this episode is forgotten entirely. However, I will remember, and I know the thousands of military veterans who had their life upended by this war will remember as well.