Yesterday an online acquaintance ‘explained’ to me that the tragedy that’s unfolding in Afghanistan wasn’t actually the fault of President Uncle Joe. It was basically Comrade Trump’s fault, he said, and Uncle Joe had been too focused on taking care of US citizens and so had overlooked what might happened in Afghanistan.
He wasn’t entirely wrong, but he was a LONG LONG way from being right. He’s right that it’s not Biden’s fault that the situation in Afghanistan is fucked up; but Uncle Joe is POTUS, which absolutely makes it his responsibility. Yes, it didn’t help that Trump’s policy in Afghanistan was inconsistent and incoherent. In fact, it’s ridiculous to even call it a ‘policy’; it was a series of reckless impulses, usually implemented through Twitter without consulting the military or his own State Department or…well, anybody. Trump made that unfortunate nation even less stable and more chaotic, but it would be wrong to blame the current calamity entirely on him. President Obama’s handling of Afghanistan was certainly more thoughtful and consistent–well, less inconsistent–but it was still largely ineffective. What’s happening there today isn’t Obama’s fault either.
The blame lies entirely with President George W. Bush. A limited, targeted strike against Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden would have been an appropriate response to the attack of 9/11/2011. But Bush, for personal and political reasons, decided to expand the mission to install a US-friendly president and create a US-style democracy in Afghanistan. And then he decided “Oh, what the hell, let’s do the same thing in Iraq.”
Essentially, Bush shit the bed. He shit the bed in Afghanistan and let the stink spread to Iraq. Obama inherited the bed and the stink, and while he tried to tidy things up, there was no way to get around the fact that there was a pile of shit in the bed and everything stank. When Trump inherited the bed, he sort of randomly smeared the shit around, making a bigger mess, then held his nose and declared he couldn’t smell any stink. He said, “Hey, it’s not my shit and not my bed” and announced the US would be leaving the room. He left the shit-smeared bed and stink for Uncle Joe, who is justifying leaving the room because Trump said that’s what we were going to do.
The Taliban, who’ve lived in the house for centuries, have decided to burn the bed. And everything in it.
Here’s the thing. It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t Uncle Joe who shit the bed. Right now, the bed is his responsibility. He has a duty–a moral and ethical obligation–to rescue as much as he can before the Taliban completely burns the bed. Here’s another thing: no matter what he does, there’s nothing–nothing at all–Uncle Joe can do to mitigate the reality that the US left a pile of shit in the bed.