The Decades of Mistakes in Afghanistan

Letter to the Editor, Washington Post

In his Aug. 16 op-ed, “This preventable disaster is on Biden,” Max Boot cited the U.S. military presence “in far larger numbers in countries such as Germany, Japan and South Korea after more than 70 years” as evidence that President Biden could have — and should have — kept U.S. forces in Afghanistan in perpetuity, rather than ordering a “precipitous withdrawal” after only 20 years. Mr. Boot must know that in the examples he cited, the United States was not a combatant, but in Afghanistan it was. 

If Mr. Biden had maintained even the low-level fighting force of 2,500 soldiers in Afghanistan that he inherited, the Taliban would have started killing U.S. soldiers again (after a negotiated hiatus). Mr. Biden had two options: Withdraw and cease airstrikes, or ramp the war back up to protect those 2,500 troops. A continuation of the temporary lull was not an option.

This column was Exhibit A in the Washington foreign policy establishment’s obfuscation that has resulted in president after president kicking the can down the road.