Biden’s Trumpian foreign policy

For four Trump years we had a bull-in-a-china-shop foreign policy. An ignoramus thinking himself a genius — a deadly combination. His “America First” policy so idiotically executed it vastly harmed us.

Few Americans paid close enough attention, so he skated through it, like everything, with no comeuppance. Not even his disgraceful Northern Syria betrayal seemed to register.

Then comes President Biden — an experienced, knowledgeable, conscientious, decent, sane man — whom I hugely supported — and he blows it, bigly, regarding Afghanistan. There is no cosmic justice. Life is unfair.

Why couldn’t this debacle have come on Trump’s watch? After all, it was he who “negotiated” the “deal” with the Taliban, for America to leave (in exchange for nothing) even quicker (in May). Hence Republicans’ Biden bashing is really rich. As if the monster they worship would have done things better. The worst epithet for Biden’s Afghan fiasco is Trumpian.

He says it was time to end this war. In fact, it wasn’t even really a war. For Afghans it was, but not for us. We had long since stopped treating it so. We were now merely providing a little help — indeed, utterly piddling compared to other continuing overseas commitments — tens of thousands of troops in Germany, Japan, South Korea, etc. Yet in contrast to those, our cheap little Afghan efforts were paying huge dividends — in quality of life for millions of Afghans (especially females) and, importantly for us, avoiding a humiliating defeat. Pulling that plug made no sense.

So we have unnecessarily incurred that humiliating defeat. And, to boot, with vivid shameful pictures displayed to the world.

Biden says quitting Afghanistan lets us focus on the bigger China problem. Couldn’t we do both? Actually, our Afghan debacle worsens the China problem. Now China is on a soapbox, jeering, “See? We told you America is a feckless declining nation.” While European allies, who worked with us in Afghanistan, feel betrayed. Biden had proclaimed, “America is back.” He might as well have said, “Trump is back.”

In today’s world, everything is connected to everything. We should not imagine the Afghan denouement will have no effects beyond its borders. That’s a dicey neighborhood. All the fallout from this disaster cannot yet be foreseen, but it isn’t likely to be good.

Already in one way the world has been made more dangerous. Islamic extremists everywhere are thrilled and energized by what they deem their triumph. Defeating an infidel superpower. Thinking, “if the Taliban can do it, why not us?”

Biden vaunts the achievement of evacuating 124,000 from Afghanistan in just a few weeks. Those who did it, despite the chaos, do deserve kudos. But the time constraint was Biden’s own doing. Even if you think leaving Afghanistan was right, surely doing it in such a rush was not. And once the Taliban takeover changed the picture, why no course correction?

Left behind are hundreds of U.S. citizens, an untold number of green card holders (legal permanent U.S. residents) — and tens of thousands of Afghans, many of whom should have qualified for special expedited visas, for people who worked with us and are now consequently in the Taliban’s gunsights. Bureaucratic obstacles kept myriads from completing that paperwork. A sadly familiar story. But Biden should have knocked some heads together, to get these people out before his self-imposed deadline. Now it’s too late.

This unfortunately reprises our shabby abandonment of legions of Iraqis, in similar circumstances, not so long ago. Such callous irresponsibility, toward people who trusted in us, is a profound moral stain. I believe in an America better than that. But that faith is faltering.

9 Responses to “Biden’s Trumpian foreign policy”

  1. Don Bronkema Says:

    All true, but the people will forget if Jomala can conjure Phase-III from the miasma. Note also, our chaos is now Talib chaos as country parches, soon at lethal 125F wetbulbs. Post 9/11 is a-cumin
    in, lude syngge teknu…

  2. Lee Says:

    You wanted Trump out but if, say, the Iranians swooped in and removed him by force, would that be okay by you? Removing Trump would indeed make the world better for women and many other marginalized populations in our country … so would you have invited Iran? Would you be surprised that when Iran left, the supporters of Trump were able to take over the country?

    The problem is with the concept of nation building by force; it doesn’t work as well as non-military approaches. (Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan,…) What is happening now is all but inevitable given the last 20 years (and the Russian attempt prior to ours). Maybe we could have “saved face” by slowing the takeover by the Taliban so that it would take years rather than months … but to what end?

    Now is the time for the humanitarian aid (carrot) and diplomatic pressure (stick). That is our best chance to get to democracy in Afghanistan. Had we instead stayed, democracy would always have been off in the distant future.

    And instead of arming one side, we should be applying diplomatic pressure and humanitarian aid in Yemen, Israel/Palestine, Syria, …. Open borders for refugees would also be good policy.

  3. Lee Says:

    Sorry … editing error. Yes, we should have slowed the leaving of Afghanistan by some; it is the stretching of it into years that I was intending to call into question.

  4. rationaloptimist Says:

    Amazing that after all you wrote you could still talk of “our best chance to get democracy in Afghanistan.” Indeed, imagining it is somehow more achievable now than before we left — ??!!
    No, I did not imagine we were building democracy. What we were doing was getting girls educated and freed to live decent lives. That’s what’s been thrown away. Along with much else, including our own national interests.

  5. Don Bronkema Says:

    Homines, dimitte praeterita–on to those shining uplands whereof Winnie spoke! Despair not. The future will be splendid [if there is one].

  6. Lee Says:

    > Indeed, imagining [democracy] is somehow more achievable now than before we left — ??!!

    Yes, I do think so. Clearly more discussion needs to happen to discover our disconnect here.

    > What we were doing was getting girls educated and freed to live decent lives.

    An exceedingly laudable goal and if we replace our military presence with “ignore Afghanistan” then I’d agree with you that having our military leave was a mistake. Fortunately, we have alternatives that are more effective than either of these weak approaches.

  7. Don Bronkema Says:

    Still, the post-facto plot thickens–& if the Nam is an augur, tide of grievance could keep rising–til thermageddon renders it nugatory.

  8. David Lettau Says:

    Remember our Kurdish allies in Syria who did most of the hard grunt work against ISIS? Their reward from Trump was being left to fight an invading army of Turks on their own. Biden seemed incomprehensibley eager to match Trumps craven betrayalism with his own time- limited stampede out of Kabul.One wonders how many abandoned U.S. citizens and former Afghan allies are now in hiding,and how many are trying to sneak past taliban CP into surrounding countries. No wonder some of our former allies are saying”He who has America for a friend,has no need of an enemy

  9. Don Bronkema Says:

    The tale of our national rot can be told a dozen ways, but they only hurt when we laugh. Absent slavery, capital greed & imperialism, we could not have scrabbled up to these montane hites, whence the human prospect confounds cynics & dazzles even us centennial dreamers. Dour Momsen quipped, “All of us must surely perish if Der Mann is to live”, but it was clear by September, 1941 that our interstellar ascendants would marvel at their probabilistic immortality. Respondent’s 5th-grade teacher declared him a crazy prophet & beat him w/a yardstick to repent: sed ecce homo!

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