21 votes

Let’s not pretend that the way we withdrew from Afghanistan was the problem

13 comments

  1. joplin
    Link
    I know this has a lot of people down, myself included. My spouse and I have found a few charities that are attempting to help the people we're leaving behind. Here are some links: Raven Advisory...

    I know this has a lot of people down, myself included. My spouse and I have found a few charities that are attempting to help the people we're leaving behind. Here are some links:

    Raven Advisory Operation Flyaway - Veterans are flying missions into Afghanistan to pick up Afghan allies who's lives are at risk and bring them to the US.
    International Rescue Committee - They have a long history of bringing refugees from all over the world to the US. They are concentrating on Afghanistan at the moment.

    If you know of other organizations doing similar work, please post them here.

    7 votes
  2. [12]
    elcuello
    Link
    Anyone who can post the text here?

    Anyone who can post the text here?

    3 votes
    1. [6]
      Bear
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Here is an archived copy of the article with no paywall. In my opinion, there was no good way to leave. 10 more years of us being there would have just been 10 more years of wasted money and...

      Here is an archived copy of the article with no paywall.

      In my opinion, there was no good way to leave. 10 more years of us being there would have just been 10 more years of wasted money and lives.

      Yes, leaving sucked. So does ripping off a bandaid.

      The war was deeply unpopular here at home, but no president wanted to be the one left holding the hot potato, so they all kicked the can down the road.

      As much as this withdrawal is a clusterfuck, I don't realistically see a better way for us to have done it.

      As far as the fall of the Afghan government and resurgence of the Taliban, I think those were inevitable, no matter how we left. It's well documented that the Afghan "military" forces were little better than people defending against attacks by assailants armed with fresh fruit.

      11 votes
      1. [4]
        papasquat
        Link Parent
        Really? We had total control of the entire country a month ago. We could have taken our sweet time evacuating everyone that needed to be evacuated. We could have slowly withdrawn troops until we...

        As much as this withdrawal is a clusterfuck, I don't realistically see a better way for us to have done it.

        Really? We had total control of the entire country a month ago. We could have taken our sweet time evacuating everyone that needed to be evacuated.

        We could have slowly withdrawn troops until we left a small, continuing presence of advisors to assist the ANA. We could have bitten the bullet and realized that when we devoted ourselves to nation building, for better or worse, it was our responsibility to actually ensure the nation was built before we left.

        There are about a thousand ways we could have handled Afghanistan better, and a good chunk of those also would have allowed us to leave without throwing the people who have helped us over the last 20 years to the wolves.

        I agree that quickly leaving and ensuring that Afghanistan remains a free country with a secular government that respects human rights are mutually exclusive, but

        1. There were ways we could have pulled out that at least minimized damage, and
        2. I think that when you trot into a country and destabilize it in a bout of hopped up nationalistic revenge, you have a responsibility to at least ensure it’s not handed back to the enemy you aimed topple in the first place.

        MOST of the response to this has been highly partisan, which is understandable, but part of the problem with politics in the US is that people are so reluctant to criticize the leaders of “their side”, because it gives their political adversaries more ammo. It’s an understandable drive, but it’s also really immoral in my opinion.

        I wouldn’t say I’m exactly a Biden supporter, but I did vote for him, and I still think he’s by a HUGE margin a better alternative to trump. I can also say that this was a colossal fuck up, and that he owns virtually all of the responsibility for it regardless of what his predecessor did.

        6 votes
        1. psi
          Link Parent
          The Taliban began retaking control of Afghanistan almost immediately after the Doha peace talks in 2020 [1]. Here's a map of Taliban territory from April of this year [2]. Frankly, I don't think...
          • Exemplary

          Really? We had total control of the entire country a month ago. We could have taken our sweet time evacuating everyone that needed to be evacuated.

          The Taliban began retaking control of Afghanistan almost immediately after the Doha peace talks in 2020 [1]. Here's a map of Taliban territory from April of this year [2]. Frankly, I don't think we ever had total control of Afghanistan.

          We could have slowly withdrawn troops until we left a small, continuing presence of advisors to assist the ANA. We could have bitten the bullet and realized that when we devoted ourselves to nation building, for better or worse, it was our responsibility to actually ensure the nation was built before we left.

          If you haven't yet, you should read "The Incompetence Dodge" [3], as Erza Klein recommends in this piece. Mostly that article focuses on Iraq, but I think it largely applies to Afghanistan, too. An excerpt (emphasis added):

          Intervening requires us to take sides and to live with the empowerment of the side we took. Tensions between Kosovar and Serb, Muslim and Croat, Sunni and Shiite are not immutable hatreds, and it's hardly the case that such conflicts can never be resolved. But they cannot be resolved by us. Outside parties can succeed in smoothing the path for agreement, halting an ongoing genocide, or preventing an imminent one by securing autonomy for a given area. But only the actual parties to a conflict can bring it to an end. No simple application of more outside force can make conflicting parties agree in any meaningful way or conjure up social forces of liberalism, compromise, and tolerance where they don't exist or are too weak to prevail.

          Nation-building in Afghanistan might not be merely difficult; it might be straight-up impossible. We spent 20 years in Afghanistan, and yet the government collapsed in under a month. If 20 years weren't sufficient, then what amount of time would've been? If never, then what is the minimal US presence we would've been willing to keep in Afghanistan forever, and how could we've been sure that amount would've been enough?

          For what it's worth, "The Incompetence Dodge" also touches on these questions. Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki estimated that we would've needed a presence of roughly 20 foreigners to 1,000 natives to stabilize Iraq, which if applied to Afghanistan, would amount to 760,000 soldiers. That would require essentially the entire US army rotating in and out of Afghanistan.

          There are about a thousand ways we could have handled Afghanistan better, and a good chunk of those also would have allowed us to leave without throwing the people who have helped us over the last 20 years to the wolves.

          Yes, we definitely should've done more to help withdraw Afghan allies -- it's shameful that Biden didn't begin expediting visas months ago. But he's not the only one at fault. Ashraf Ghani, the former president of Afghanistan, implored Biden not to do so, fearing that it might lead to a mass exodus of Afghani civilians and soldiers, thereby accelerating the reach of the Taliban. Probably Biden gambled that we could slowly pull Americans and Afghan allies out faster than the government would collapse. Clearly Biden miscalculated, but did anybody expect the government to fall so quickly?

          As far as I'm aware, there's only one solution that could've prevented this monumental fuck-up: never going to Afghanistan to begin with.


          [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2021_Taliban_offensive

          [2] https://apnews.com/article/taliban-middle-east-3ef479b1de676f00dd16dc8dcf6f4d0e

          [3] https://prospect.org/features/incompetence-dodge-d2/

          14 votes
        2. Bear
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          That is precisely what we did. We had been drawing down troops for months (at least), leaving advisors/trainers. The fact that we were preparing to leave was well known for quite some time. They...

          We could have slowly withdrawn troops until we left a small, continuing presence of advisors to assist the ANA. We could have bitten the bullet and realized that when we devoted ourselves to nation building, for better or worse, it was our responsibility to actually ensure the nation was built before we left.

          That is precisely what we did. We had been drawing down troops for months (at least), leaving advisors/trainers. The fact that we were preparing to leave was well known for quite some time. They knew that were aiming for a fairly close date to exit, and they should have been applying for visas like mad already. But it looks to me (as a US resident who reads the news highlights) like it was just a last minute rush, almost like they didn't believe that we would really leave.

          The Trump administration in February 2020 negotiated a withdrawal agreement with the Taliban that excluded the Afghan government, freed 5,000 imprisoned Taliban soldiers and set a date certain of May 1, 2021, for the final withdrawal.

          And the Trump administration kept to the pact, reducing U.S. troop levels from about 13,000 to 2,500, even though the Taliban continued to attack Afghan government forces and welcomed al-Qaeda terrorists into the Taliban leadership.

          There is a video I saw on Reddit (wish I could find it now) from the perspective of one of the soldiers there, apparently in an advisory role, lamenting how unprepared and unconcerned the ANA is. It's sad. It's demoralizing. For example, he catches one of the ANA personnel smoking hashish on duty, who tried to hide it. He could/should have been paying attention, but the drugs were more interesting.

          As far as nation building, we tried to train them, equip them, etc. At a very large cost to us, both in money and people. It was an abject failure. Bin Laden was killed in 2011. In the 10 years since, we tried to teach the Afghan people to defend and govern their country so that we would not have to come back and kill another terrorist group leader in 20 more years.

          All that effort, and the government fell in what, 12 days? Sad. Hell, the Afghan president fled the country with a bunch of cash.

          5 votes
        3. post_below
          Link Parent
          Maybe 'nation building' is what a percentage of the US population believed we were doing. In reality all of the wars in the middle east have been about oil and profit. No doubt the planning for PR...

          We could have bitten the bullet and realized that when we devoted ourselves to nation building, for better or worse, it was our responsibility to actually ensure the nation was built before we left.

          Maybe 'nation building' is what a percentage of the US population believed we were doing. In reality all of the wars in the middle east have been about oil and profit.

          No doubt the planning for PR and political strategies to get us back there has already begun.

          When you have a collection of interconnected, massive, politically powerful industries that have grown reliant on endless conflict in the middle east, you can only expect them to behave one way.

          2 votes
      2. moriarty
        Link Parent
        I don't think people realize how real of a scenario that is. When Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, the first thing Hamas did after wresting control was go on a bloody slaughter fest of all of...

        There have been revenge killings, but it has not devolved, at least as of yet, into all-out slaughter

        I don't think people realize how real of a scenario that is. When Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, the first thing Hamas did after wresting control was go on a bloody slaughter fest of all of their political rivals in the Fatah.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Gaza_%282007%29

        2 votes
    2. [2]
      fleg
      Link Parent
      I always search for the links in web.archive.org or archive.is (which is down right now for some reason) , usually with success.

      I always search for the links in web.archive.org or archive.is (which is down right now for some reason) , usually with success.

      2 votes
      1. Diff
        Link Parent
        If you're on something that might be using cloudflare DNS, archive.is refuses to play nice with it.

        which is down right now for some reason

        If you're on something that might be using cloudflare DNS, archive.is refuses to play nice with it.

    3. [3]
      AugustusFerdinand
      Link Parent
      I use this script: https://greasyfork.org/en/scripts/428601-bypass-new-york-times-paywall
      1. [2]
        suspended
        Link Parent
        May be easier just to install Bypass Paywalls extension (Chrome & Firefox).

        May be easier just to install Bypass Paywalls extension (Chrome & Firefox).

        5 votes
        1. AugustusFerdinand
          Link Parent
          Probably easier, but I find extensions that have to be loaded from disk are slower than naturally/store installed extensions and miles slower than scripts. On a personal level I'm trying to move...

          Probably easier, but I find extensions that have to be loaded from disk are slower than naturally/store installed extensions and miles slower than scripts.

          On a personal level I'm trying to move to scripts as much as possible over extensions anyway.