John Cole’s post on the chaos in Afghanistan addresses the human catastrophe unfolding there. I want to praise a rare example of political courage here at home. Here’s an excerpt of a statement President Biden released yesterday:
When I came to office, I inherited a deal cut by my predecessor—which he invited the Taliban to discuss at Camp David on the eve of 9/11 of 2019—that left the Taliban in the strongest position militarily since 2001 and imposed a May 1, 2021 deadline on U.S. Forces. Shortly before he left office, he also drew U.S. Forces down to a bare minimum of 2,500. Therefore, when I became President, I faced a choice—follow through on the deal, with a brief extension to get our Forces and our allies’ Forces out safely, or ramp up our presence and send more American troops to fight once again in another country’s civil conflict. I was the fourth President to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan—two Republicans, two Democrats. I would not, and will not, pass this war onto a fifth.
It was the right decision. It was a brave decision.
Biden understood there were no good options in Afghanistan and that the status quo was unsustainable. He knew if he chose to withdraw, he’d be pummeled from all sides by craven opportunists who will make political hay out of this mess, including the rancid orange blob who put U.S. and allied forces more squarely behind the eight ball. Biden did the right thing anyway.
It shouldn’t be remarkable for political leaders to disregard political fallout and make decisions in the best interests of the people they serve. That’s the job.
But we’ve come to expect politicians to kick the can down the road to avoid hard decisions. Over the past couple of years, the spectacle of governors actively sabotaging disease mitigation efforts to audition for higher office has been covered as a savvy political move. We’re unsurprised when political leaders coddle domestic terrorists to chase votes. In this context, Biden’s courage is notable.