Thousands of US Troops Headed to Afghanistan To Cover Embassy Withdrawl

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonder and Home. Andrew is the host of Heard Tell podcast.

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27 Responses

  1. North
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    says:

    It was STILL the right call. If, after all the billions of dollars and all the blood poured into that rathole, the Afghan government is still only capable only of embezzling foreign aid and failing to fight off the Taliban then departing is the only sensible option. The best time to leave was probably right after they blew the place up. The next best time to leave was the start of Obama’s administration (but he trapped himself with talking about Afghanistan as “the good war”) and the next best time to leave is now.Report

    • North in reply to North
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      says:

      Well the embassy wasn’t originally intending to leave. No one knew if the Government in Kabul would fold this catastrophically. I imagine the troops being moved to help with the embassy removal are part of the bad case scenario plan for leaving. As for Trump- that clown didn’t even have plans to manage any given day at the White House, let alone a plan to leave Afghanistan.Report

      • North in reply to North
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        says:

        Uh huh, no doubt Trump is busy planning to be reinstalled tomorrow I hear. A literal demonstration of Trumps planning capacity and grasp of reality. As for Biden, so far he’s done pretty well. Better than I’d hoped and feared.Report

    • JS in reply to North
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      says:

      I’m sure if you give it another forty, fifty years of spilled blood, you’ll come up with a good plan.

      Sunk cost fallacy, except you’re spending other people’s lives.Report

    • KenB in reply to North
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      says:

      Have you read the stories coming out about what’s happening? I’m no foreign policy expert but it seems like bearing the cost of 3000-ish troops there indefinitely to stave off what’s going on right now would arguably have been worth it, for humanitarian reasons if nothing else. We’re getting ready to spend trillions of dollars on ourselves, and even the poorest Americans are way, way better off than the Afghanis at this point. Yes, the nation-building project was doomed from the beginning, but the US involvement did actually make some very positive differences in many lives there, and that’s all going to sh!t now.Report

      • North in reply to KenB
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        says:

        Yes I’ve read the usual suspects saying “Oh we’re down to just spending hundreds of millions a year there instead of billions and the humanitarian considerations.”
        I just can’t give it any credit, there’s simply no credibility for that group with me at least. At some point if the Afghanis can’t or won’t do it for themselves then we need ta stop doing it for them.Report

  2. Philip H
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    says:

    Actually having a plan to evacuate an embassy is the State Department’s job. They may execute through the military for a variety of reasons, but DoD has no functional control over an embassy.Report

  3. Jaybird
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    says:

    There is a huge amount of the sunk cost fallacy going on, in the discussions I’ve seen.

    “If we leave, we may as well as not have gone!”

    Yeah. Like North said, we should have dismantled the old government and left a card on a folding chair that said “don’t make us come back”.

    The “Pottery Barn Doctrine” was foolish as hell.Report

    • North in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      I will say it. As personally execrable as Trump was in manner, principles and bearing; the administration of George W Bush policy wise was the biggest calamity to befall this country in at least a century, probably more Trump doesn’t even come close.Report

  4. InMD
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    says:

    They had 20 years to build a military and establish sufficient legitimacy to control the territory. They failed and I see no reason to believe they’d ever succeed.Report

    • Marchmaine in reply to InMD
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      says:

      Yeah, this is one of those things where even if the policy decision is correct… we still have to account for 20-years of activity that needs unwinding. I had a bad feeling when we abandoned the Bagram Airbase like hikers from an air BnB. The scary thing is that it has all the appearance of believing our own bullshit/PR about Afghanistan’s puppet govt prospects.

      I was fully prepared to witness a debacle under Trump… I’m a little surprised that team Biden is surprised by the debacle… we were supposed to be getting people who ‘know about these things’. Then again, witness the Masktastrophe debacle and various other less than well managed episodes, and I’m left wondering if Biden/Harris just doesn’t have enough Clinton machinery to be effective. Boring might be *a* selling point, but only when its coupled with competent.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine
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        says:

        Yeah. “We believed our own BS” is a good way to describe why stuff isn’t working in the current year.Report

      • North in reply to Marchmaine
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        says:

        The feel i’m getting is the military advisors in 2009 said to Obama, with Biden in the room “Mr. President, if you pull out now the Afghan government will collapse over the course of a few years, give us more money and time and we can leave with our heads held high.” Obama bought it (and he had to because of his own talk on the subject). Now in 2020 the military advisors said the exact same thing to Biden and he said “I ain’t falling for that one again.” The problem isn’t that Biden believed the Military advisors.. it’s that he didn’t realize that it’d be even worse than they predicted and instead of collapsing in slow motion the Afghan government is imploding in fast motion and now everyone is scrambling.

        I am not sure what to say about this. It’s not that Biden believed them, he clearly didn’t, but he failed to believe that they were sugar coating even the outcome of his deciding on withdrawal. He assumed the worst of the outcomes they proposed but didn’t assume worse than their worst case scenarios.

        And, ironically, it’s still good that we’re getting out.Report

        • Marchmaine in reply to North
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          says:

          All plausible… which means that Biden has to publicly fire some Pentagon folks for advising him on the slow collapse theory… for the good of the organization.

          I’d maybe redirect a little to suggest that if we accept that the Pentagon was attempting to thwart policy for it’s own interests (and I’m sure it has been) then this might be a passive aggressive attempt by the Pentagon to make the policy look like a debacle… which the President should publicly flog. High profile careers should be ruined for not executing a withdrawal well.

          Which is to concur that if the only option was to stand on a desk at the Pentagon (metaphorically) and demand immediate withdrawal… then that should also have been part of Biden’s management of the process.

          On the one hand, I really don’t think anyone will care about Kandahar (or Afghanistan at all) returning to the Taliban, and I suspect the Embassy will be fine until everyone leaves – then some sort of public ‘desecration’ – it will be the couple/few thousand dead collaborators that will be the bad press…Report

          • InMD in reply to Marchmaine
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            says:

            If the end result is some people in that 5 sided building being subject to accountability then maybe it was all worth it after all. Probably not. But at least there’d be an argument.Report

          • North in reply to Marchmaine
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            says:

            We shall see. I certainly agree with you and InMD that some career ending defenestration of some military hawks would be in order. I will cynically note, however, that doing so would first require that the administration admit there was a debacle which requires a scapegoat and that, obviously, remains to be seen.

            To your last point I’m going to one up you on cynicism regarding the electorate. I think that is the x number thousand dead from the Taliban will only matter if the Taliban somehow manage to get their hands on a significant number of westerners. If the dead are all or overwhelmingly Afghan/non-western then I suspect our war weary electorate will collectively shrug and move on to the next subject.

            Further, there’s no political hay to be made about “losing” Afghanistan absent a lot of dead Westerners. The left won’t want to bring it up since, obviously, it’s happening under Bidens’ watch and the right won’t want to bring it up since neocons are an exiled minority and since the subject of “just who did this war start under anyhow” isn’t a comfortable question to ask for them.

            I dare say the people most sad about us leaving will end up being Pakistan (muh money), Russia, China and Iran.Report

            • InMD in reply to North
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              says:

              Regarding the electorate I think it’s just as possible that this is a soft + for Biden in certain critical constituencies. I may well be proven wrong but this smells to me like the kind of thing the media loses its head over only for it to turn out that Biden was way closer to the median American voter than any plugged in politico or talking head could possibly imagine.Report

            • Marchmaine in reply to North
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              says:

              How dare you question my cynicism, sir.

              Although, I concur with your assessment of the Neo-cons… my cynicism there says that the right will not hesitate to engage in ‘who lost Afghanistan’ diatribes regardless. Old habits, any stick with which to beat the dog, and all that.Report

          • Maxsim in reply to Marchmaine
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            says:

            “High profile careers should be ruined for not executing a withdrawal well.”

            Not having any plan for evacuating Kabul is dereliction of duty.

            Never fear, Trump’s people are here (and they’re competent.)Report

  5. Oscar Gordon
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    says:

    Reminds me of when I was being sent to cover the evacuation of the embassy in Somalia, and instead of doing that, we spent 3 months sailing in a box before our relief arrived.

    As for the OP, I agree with North, et.al., we weren’t able to alter whatever it is there that prevents effective governance without dictator style of control.Report

  6. Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    What in the hell have we been doing for the last two decades? What the hell?Report

    • North in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      Paying mountains of money to the Afghans who promptly embezzled it and shipped it out to Pakistan, Abu Dhabi and other financial shelters. Playing hide and go seek with the Taliban in the mountains. Playing soldier with Afghanis for a cycle and then that trainer would get promoted with commendations and a new trainer would come in. Basically feeding foreign scumbags and domestic military industrial scumbags for twenty fishing years.Report

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