Yes, it’s true that Biden’s policy choice to leave and Biden’s handling of the exit are two separate issues.
But no, it does not make sense to blame him for the tragic way the exit has transpired. Notably, the near-universal chorus of critics who condemn him for the recent painful and ugly atrocities committed by the Taliban virtually never provide us with the magical solution and plan that would have permitted a peaceful, graceful withdrawal.
There’s a reason. They cannot. They do not have an answer or a plan.
If he had telegraphed a collapse of the Afghan government, the same critics would, without question, now be blaming him not only for the violent departure, but also would be blaming Biden himself for the collapse itself.
It would be, of course, absurd to blame Biden for the failure of a government that did not inspire its brave rank and file soldiers to fight because that government literally stole their food rations from them, just as an example.
Yet it is also true that the best course for the Afghan people’s safety, for the advancement of universal human rights, and, in my view at least, for US geostrategic interests as well, would have been to dramatically increase troop levels again and then to finally put real teeth into robust and unbending anti-corruption measures and to have made that aid fully conditional.
But this last point is, in fact, debatable, and Biden also knew that it is also his first responsibility not to put more American and NATO troops in continued harm’s way unless he was convinced that such measures would work.
He made the decision based on that last consideration. Such a decision was a tough call, and he deserves our firm support and respect for making it, not our wobbly-kneed hand-wringing.
In sum, the current point of view of the lion’s share of the American press, that Biden made the right choice to leave but that he himself botched the execution, is literally diametrically wrong on both points.
That view is also shockingly ahistoric, utterly ignoring the fact that the only reason our troops were not being shot at for two years is that his shady, amoral, and foolish predecessor had already given up the ghost by handing the Taliban everything they asked for two years ago, literally behind the back of the Afghan government.