It is difficult to find foreign policy failures as significant to the United States as the one we suffered in Kabul last weekend. American diplomatic, intelligence, and military personnel were routed by an enemy from whom we cringingly requested safe passage. Benghazi in 2012, Mogadishu in 1993, Beirut in 1983, Tehran in 1979, Saigon in 1975, and the Bay of Pigs in 1961 were all bad, but what happened in Afghanistan is magnitudes worse.
The closest parallel might be when Japan sank much of our Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor and in the Coral Sea, ejected our forces from Wake Island and the Philippines, and landed in Alaska between December 1941 and June ‘42. But America fought back immediately after, winning at Midway, New Guinea, and Guadalcanal, so the analogy is inexact. There is no plan or will to reverse our losses in Afghanistan.
President Joe Biden made the decisions resulting in this debacle against the best military advice of the Defense Department. That is his clear prerogative as commander-in-chief, but he owns the results, despite his attempts to disclaim responsibility that would embarrass a newly minted corporal and his refusal thus far to address our country during the crisis.
There is bipartisan blame to go around. For Donald Trump’s terrible deal with the Taliban; Barack Obama’s halfhearted surge, the limited duration of which was announced to the enemy in advance; George Bush not sending our troops on a hot pursuit of al-Qaeda into Pakistan; and Bill Clinton passing up opportunities to kill Osama bin Laden.