As the Biden administration struggles to contain the fallout at home and abroad from the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, the president and his team still seem to hope the political pain will be short-lived, that over time the benefits of withdrawal will increasingly bolster their position.
Abroad, the theory runs, the withdrawal frees the U.S. from a costly distraction and enables us to focus more on China. Let Russia worry about fanatical jihadist warriors and missionaries fanning out across Central Asia with the latest American weaponry. Let China cope with the double-dealing, back-stabbing, perpetually indigent Pakistani government. Let Iran deal with newly empowered Sunni zealots, uncontrolled opium flows and a stream of refugees pressing on its frontiers.
At home, Bidenites hope Afghanistan will be in the rearview mirror long before the midterm elections. Swing-district Democrats can immunize themselves by criticizing the administration over the execution of the withdrawal; all Democrats will benefit from their association with a president who, however inelegantly, is ending unpopular wars rather than starting new ones.
These hopes are not completely unfounded, and Republicans who want to ride the Afghanistan issue back into power may be disappointed. History, however, always punishes failure. Both the Biden administration and the U.S. will pay a price for the mix of strategic fecklessness and tactical bungling that brought a 20-year stalemate to this inglorious end.
Read in the Wall Street Journal