A good question:
Now that 30,000 folks (and climbing) have been evacuated from Afghanistan, can I ask what the magic number is that will change the media narrative? 40,000? 50,000? A million. Please decide.— Charles P. Pierce (@CharlesPPierce) August 23, 2021
Also a good — indeed, unanswerable — question:
Another day and I will ask this again:
Given that the State Department advised Americans to leave Afghanistan months ago, before the fall of Kabul and the closure of the airport, what exactly is it that Biden should have done to force them to leave?— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) August 23, 2021
It is really appalling that most of the political press just decided that the withdrawal was a world-historical disaster because of one day of chaos, and appear locked in on this narrative even as it has less and less congruence with what is actually happening:
The only real mistake the military made in this operation was in not realizing just what a terrible job they had been doing all along. Everything else flows from that. If the Afghan government had been able to hold off the Taliban for even a few weeks, everything would have been fine. But they didn’t even try. Ghani just grabbed a few suitcases of cash and took off.
All by itself, this should tell you how hopeless the situation in Afghanistan has been all along. After 20 years, the Afghan military, even with plenty of warning about when we planned to leave, was unable, and in many cases unwilling, to fight. It’s laughable to think that another few months would have made any difference. It’s equally laughable to hear from the “light footprint” gang, who think that we could have kept a few thousand troops in Afghanistan forever and avoided any kind of fighting even after the Taliban cease-fire was over.
As for all the Americans being airlifted out, I suppose it’s bad form to point out that they were told to leave months ago? If they had a lick of common sense most of them wouldn’t be stuck in Kabul and elsewhere waiting to be rescued.
The sophisticated attitude these days is to say that, of course, we needed to leave Afghanistan, but surely we could have executed the withdrawal more competently? Maybe, but I’d like to hear the plan. The problems we’ve run into were baked into the cake long ago, and the actual evacuation itself has been run with courage and guts. “There’s a whole nother story line that media could follow,” Cheryl Rofer says. “The people who are working to keep the flights running, the people who get on the flights, the people who are helping others to get to the airport, the people who are running the logistics.”
Amen to that. This is by far the biggest military evacuation in US history, and it’s being handled surprisingly well.
But what if I just kept showing footage from the first Sunday at Kabul airport over and over lalalalalalalala I can’t hear you?
Needless to say, most of the ostensibly procedural objections to the withdrawal are really just objections to the withdrawal itself. And the dodge is understandable, because the problem with being honest about wanting indefinite war is that we’ve just learned that a trillion dollars and 20 years have left the U.S. further from the objective of a viable alternative to the Taliban than on day 1 and the war’s advocates have been lying about it the whole time. But while the Blob have shown themselves to be astoundingly inept about achieving their objectives in Afghanistan and deeply dishonest about it, as their ability to pin the blame on Biden for their own colossal failures shows as PR manipulators they’re without peer, granting that in many cases the manipulation isn’t much of a challenge.