A strategic withdrawal in the face of the enemy is one of the most difficult maneuvers to pull off. We did not succeed.
The Taliban has said they will declare an Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan from the Presidential Palace in Kabul as militants posed in the office and the country’s president fled for Tajikistan, with thousands of Afghan nationals now racing to Pakistan to escape Islamist rule.
Taliban fighters stormed the ancient palace on Sunday and demanded a ‘peaceful transfer of power’ as Kabul descended into chaos, with US helicopters evacuating diplomats from the embassy in scenes echoing the 1975 Fall of Saigon which followed the Vietnam War.
US-backed Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country for Tajikistan, effectively ceding power to the Taliban in a move signaling the end of the 20-year Western intervention begun after the September 11 attacks, while thousands of Afghan nationals rushed to the Pakistan border.
I continue to think that ending the war in Afghanistan was the correct policy choice. I do think we could have maintained a force there for some time – like in South Korea or Germany – as a means of keeping active in a global hotspot for our own security. But the absolute debacle of this withdrawal and the speed at which the Taliban took power is the manifestation of bad policy and bad leadership. From the White House to the Chiefs of Staff, they blew it. Completely and utterly. And America bears the shame of a lost war and the sacrifice of our local allies. We will feel the reverberations of this for many, many years to come.