Afghanistan Pullout: The Best Biden Could Do, or Total Clusterfuck?

Don’t care what he said. Nobody will.

The situation isn’t volatile. The situation is murderous.

There ist footage posted on the web of thousands of people trying to leave the country, e.g. at the border to Pakistan. With no help in sight. Reportedly, people are also trying to leave via Iran, on foot.

Meanwhile, Kabul airport was attacked, and some US military allegedly have been killed.

However the US wanted to leave the country, I suspect it wasn’t like this. This is going to haunt the current admin. Whatever they planned, the result is omnishambles.


i just heard on the radio that 12 american soldiers have died in an attack there. the plan, or lack of one, has every chance of undermining all of the administration’s other goals as well


I fear that too.

After all the evidence of what a complete fuckup this Republican “war” has been, it may well keep paying off for them.


Needs repeating: either an ignorant statement, or something worse.

They already were on their own, since the US and their allies stopped air support, and their training makes them rely on air support.

That is the most surprising statement here for me.


it’s pretty obvious which way her politics sit. with the previous president, she could collect and summarize the news, then link it to historical forces without having any conflicting biases come to play. she could call out facism, fake news, and white supremacy no problem

now, though, she clearly wants biden to succeed. and who could blame her?

but he messed up, and the republicans are having a party to celebrate rather than actually trying to help. i can see it’s hard to report on.


That surprised me too. I find the Republican reaction entirely predictable.


I don’t think Biden “messed up.” He was left in a no-win situation. Trump had “negotiated” a 5/1 withdrawal, and had drawn down to 2500 troops. Biden had a choice of ignoring this deal, and having to pour thousands of troops back in, or try to get out as cleanly as possible. He has managed the latter better than most would gave predicted, but it was going to be a nightmare no matter what.



Trump made a treaty with the Taliban to turn the country over to them, making a point of excluding the Afghan government from the negotiations, and then set up the timetable so that it did not “hit the fan” until shortly he was out of office. Meanwhile he (and Mitch) refused to allow any of our Afghan allies to flee the country and come here, while reducing the military presence to the bare minimum in order to prevent the US from keeping control of the situation. He deliberately created time-bomb and set it to go off for Biden, going to extreme lengths to make it impossible carry off (so that Biden can be blamed for it), and making it impossible to reverse (without it being another thing to blame Biden for).

This was all done as nasty political trap from the get-go.

Considering the nature of the trap and total mess trump set us up for, Biden has done a remarkable job of getting us out as cleanly as he has managed. Far far better than anyone has any reason to expect from this situation.


Totally agree with that. Trump screwed him and us with his “deal” but I think Biden did mess up. He should have planned for the worst and been doing quiet evacuations from February on. He relied on US intelligence that painted a ridiculously rosey picture. We should have been getting translators, other collaborators, and every non-critcal fed employee on a plane months ago. None of those people should have been there on the day of the withdrawal. Once the Taliban started advancing, it should have been clear our intelligence was dangerously faulty and we’d need mass evacs right away. It took precious time to plan those things when we should hve had at least a plan for the Taliban taking the country quickly.


everything you just said.

the whole world was floored when american soliders left that first base and it was immediately snatched up by the taliban. then the taliban took city after city, yet there was no sudden urgency. it wasn’t until they were on the outskirts of kabul that suddenly the administration woke up, and it was clear they still were trying to figure out what to do when the taliban actually entered.

plenty of signals, no urgency, no contingency plans.

re: trump – beyond the world’s worst deal maker making a typically terrible deal, he gutted the state department. yet biden’s team should have realized what not having a fully staffed state department would mean if there was an emergency.

i think the whole administration was focused on the infrastructure bill, and they simply took their eyes off the ball.

i don’t know how to account for the rest of nato not busting into the oval office and demanding action – or even we the people. there seems to be more than enough complacency to go around. a world’s bystander effect maybe.


I disagree. In matters of everything which relates to what happens “on the ground”: while I am not informed enough about what actual decisions were made, and not qualified to judge those decisions, I and both informed enough and qualified enough to judge that the statements Biden offered were a clusterfuck.

He basically blamed the Afghans and lied to the face of everyone that nation building wasn’t the or even an objective of the ‘engagement’ in Afghanistan.

This is bullshit. And I will stand by this judgement.

Of course, the situation “on the ground” is a loose-loose situation with not the slightest chance of a good ending. However, communication about this is not a blame-game. I think not for any political leader, and certainly not for the military leader of the US. Especially not at the moment when literally thousands of people’s life are in danger because they (probably) trusted in the allied forces.

The world literally was watching while, again, the US were concerned about their internal affairs. Because however I look at this statement from hell: it was targeted at an US audience only. That’s worse enough coming from someone who is openly neo-fascist. But coming from someone who wants to go into the history books as defender of democracy? Even worser.

And if my ignoring of English grammar irritated you now, you might actually feel a teensy bit how everyone outside the US watched this unfolding. Only the dissonance is stronger, and more practical, and much, much dangerouser.


Dude, I am sorry, but I have no room in my life for this. Please, if I upset you, cease to read my posts, I am done.


So then, what would you have done differently, and I’m not just talking words. What actions would you have taken different that would have magically come up roses?


Coming up roses was never an option.
But some level of preparedness would have been nice.

Off the top of my head, not necessarily in that order, a lot of it parallel anyway:

  1. Realize early on that Trump left a dirty timebomb that can’t be defused as such and must be dealt with. Make it a top priority.
  2. Assemble a team of advisors who have experience re Afghanistan, and the surrounding countries, especially Pakistan. People from State who left during the T-admin. Military who served there. People who know the history and the culture. Expats. Logistics pros. NGO members who know about handling refugees. Experts on international law and finance. People who worked with the Mujahideen way back when they were Freedom Fighters. And so on. Listen to them. Anything tried during the past 20 years hasn’t worked out that well, so time for some new approaches.
  3. Intelligence the shit out of this. Use all assets. Call in favours from friendly services. Talk discreetly to not so friendly services. Lean on the ISI.
  4. Make it clear to all other NATO members that they are still in this and need to do their bit when the shit hits the fan. Get them to prepare for it. Use whatever intelligence they can provide.
  5. Put out feelers to the Taliban and find out if they might be up to renegotiate. Maybe not the whole deal, but details, timelines, procedures, conditions. Possibly an (secret) addendum.
  6. Get the logistics to evacuate large numbers at short notice in place PDQ. Get an idea who needs to be evacuated, where to put them, and what to do with them.
  7. Get in touch with anyone who plays a part (or wants to play a part) in the region. Impress upon them that an unstable situation isn’t what they really want, even if they see it as an opportunity. There is future business to be done and what happens now can set the stage for that.

Now obviously I have absolutely no idea beyond what has been reported in the media about what actually has been done and when, especially the parts that need to be done discreetly.
But what I’ve seen so far reeks of ‘too little, too late’ because the situation was misread/not treated as demanding as it is.


#s 1 & 2 were definitely done, and other parts of your list were also done, but maybe not to the degree they should have.

I think it’s fair to say that any suggestion like, “be prepared to evacuate 150,000 people at the drop of a hat” is benefiting rather heavily from hindsight.


The largest military organisation in the world, 30 countries, including the 5 largest militaries total, 6+ months to prepare. Should be doable.
If the political will is there.
Starting with accepting/admitting that you don’t come out ahead of the game from a Trump deal. Which none of the administrations of any NATO country did. Despite a lot of evidence to the contrary. This is a massive failure across the board, no ifs, no buts, no coconuts. Thing is, NATO follows where the USA goes.


Not blaming the Afghan troops and the Afghan people and not claiming that nation building was never the intention would be something which would have been easier than doing so. And with less detrimental effects.

Those are words. What would you have done differently?

Biden did that several times. Still not sure what you’re looking for that doesn’t involve a time machine.

while cities and bases were falling, the administration could have hit pause on the withdrawal to get organized

it was only when kabul fell that they started contacting every american and putting a plan for how to leave… that’s clearly too late

they could have acted sooner.

once the administration did act, they’ve been doing the best anyone could with the hand they’ve got. but they did pick some of those cards, and they absolutely could have picked better

again, i partially blame the bystander effect. nobody seemed particularly worried, so nobody felt particularly worried. it doesn’t mean things couldn’t have gone much much better with contingencies in place

i definitely think this is political. if this were trump, no one would be defending the administration’s behavior. ( granted it would be a complete disaster with no recovery in sight, if he even tried to get the troops out )

we want biden to be a successful president. we need him to be. but it doesn’t mean he is without fault when he and his administration cause something to go wrong