The debacle in Afghanistan is all the fault of President Joe Biden and his predecessor, Barack Obama, says James Jay Carafano at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.
Carafano is “a leading expert in national security and foreign policy challenges” and is Heritage’s “vice president for foreign and defense policy studies, E. W. Richardson fellow, and director of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies.”
In an article that originally appeared at 1945, where Carafano is a contributing editor, this Heritage expert laments that Biden’s “decision to withdraw abruptly from Afghanistan, without any discernible exit strategy, has plunged that nation into a bloody, ruinous chaos.” He believes that “the only good thing that can come from this debacle is that our leaders might wake up and recognize that the Obama Doctrine of foreign policy is an abysmal failure and must be abandoned once and for all.”
Carafano describes the Obama Doctrine as:
- America will ratify more treaties and turn to international organizations more often to deal with global crises and security concerns like nuclear weapons, often before turning to our traditional friends and allies;
- America will emphasize diplomacy and “soft power” instruments such as summits and foreign aid to promote its aims and downplay military might;
- America will adopt a humbler attitude in state-to-state relations; and
- America will play a more restrained role on the international stage.
He sums it up as America reaching out to other countries as “an equal partner” rather than as the “exceptional” nation that many presidents before Obama had embraced.
Carafano later remarks that the debacle in Afghanistan “is part of a pattern of Obama-Biden foreign policy” since “the current policies are being managed by much the same people.” The default position of “Obama-Biden foreign policy default is accommodation and appeasement.” It “disengages in dangerous situations,” and hopes “everything doesn’t go to hell in a handbasket.”
Carafano believes that it is a canard that “this fiasco was inevitable and that it’s all former President Donald Trump’s fault.” During Trump’s tenure, “Afghanistan had made great strides,” “the government controlled most of the country’s territory,” “there was real economic growth,” “women could work,” and “children could go to school.” The cost of nation-building in Afghanistan was reasonable and the effort sustainable. After all, “the U.S. was spending less in Afghanistan in a year than we used to spend in a week,” “American forces were training and advising Afghan forces,” and “our troops were not fighting wars and taking causalities.”
Conservatives are fond of saying that Trump didn’t start any new wars. He inherited the war in Afghanistan from Obama and “handed Biden a problem mostly solved.”
While it is technically true that Trump didn’t start any new wars, he didn’t end any wars, even though he campaigned on a platform of ending “endless wars.” He also engaged in numerous murderous actions, as detailed by Caitlin Johnstone, such as:
vetoing the bill to save Yemen from US-backed genocide and actively blocking aid to its people, murdering untold tens of thousands of Venezuelans with starvation sanctions, rolling out many world-threatening cold war escalations against Russia, engaging in insane brinkmanship with Iran, greatly increasing the number of bombs dropped per day from the previous administration, killing record numbers of civilians, and reducing military accountability for those airstrikes.
Trump doubled down on the worst of Obama’s foreign policy actions. He redefined Russia and China as enemies of the United States and led the United States back into a Cold War with them. He pushed for a perpetual increase in the already bloated U.S. military budget. His legacy is one of continued U.S. wars, militarism, aggression, and intervention. There were more U.S. troops in Afghanistan when Trump left office than when he entered office, something that Carafano never mentions.
Someone that Carafano and most conservatives curiously never mention is President George W. Bush, the one who launched the unnecessary, unjust, and immoral war in Afghanistan in the first place. And as journalist James Bovard has well said:
Bush’s lies turned U.S. intervention in Afghanistan into a quagmire that pointlessly killed and maimed thousands of American soldiers.
Rather than targeting Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden, Bush chose to conquer Afghanistan and seek to rebuild it as some type of female-friendly utopia.
Bush frightened Americans with a bogus nuclear threat.
The U.S. military and CIA brazenly tortured Afghans, atrocities that President Bush perpetually denied even though it was reported as early as December 2002.
Bush’s Afghan war was not good intentions gone awry: It was profoundly dishonest from the start.
Carafano gives Bush and Trump a free pass on Afghanistan while laying all the blame on Obama and Biden. The truth, of course, is that Bush did not have to go to war in Afghanistan, and Trump could have withdrawn the U.S. troops that Obama failed to. As former congressman and GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul has always said: “We just marched in, we can just march out.”
Something that Carafano says in his article deserves a closer look:
The Taliban’s offensive should surprise no one, given the conditions handed to it. Why would it not take advantage of Biden’s abandonment of Afghanistan? It knew full well the odds that this president would try to stop its orgy of murder, rape, forced marriages, and mayhem was near zero.
After the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, the justification for the war shifted away from justice for 9/11 to justice for the people of Afghanistan, especially women and children. Let’s suppose for a moment that the Taliban in Afghanistan or the bad guys in some other country do nothing but murder, rape, torture, and mistreat the citizens of the country they have control over. That would be a terrible thing. But since when is it the job of the United States, its president, and its military to put a stop to it?
This is what separates the interventionists from the non-interventionists. Interventionists will always be able to find some injustice in the world to justify bombing, drone strikes, or the deployment of U.S. troops to “fix it”—even if doing so results in the killing and maiming of U.S. soldiers and the spending of billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars. Non-interventionists, although they deplore the violations of human rights that occur throughout the world, know that the United States cannot right every wrong and should not even try to do so. It is not the role or purpose of the U.S. government or the U.S. military to intervene in another country under any circumstance.
If individual Americans or groups of Americans are outraged by the conduct of those who govern or rule the citizens of a particular country, then let them recruit other Americans to their cause and go fight on their own dime. Just leave the rest of us out of it.