The intellectual dishonesty that we have seen in critiques of Biden's handling of the exit from Afghanistan has been spectacular.
That's not to say some critiques are not warranted. They certainly are. But, some of the arguments being used are so indefensible they require us to question the critics' motives or expertise. Here are some of the worst ones.
1. Biden owns this. (No. The authors of 20 yrs of war own this. The corrupt Afghan govt & the Afghan military who stood down own this. The Trump Admin that set the deadlines, drew down the troops, left behind the materiel & released 5000 Taliban own this.)
2. Well, at least he owns the chaos surrounding our exit. (No. There's no way that the Taliban regaining control would not have led to chaos w/many thousands of Afghans seeking to escape the rule of a thug regime. Whenever we started airlifting folks out, it would've started.)
3. Well, at least he should have been better prepared for the chaos. (Ok. I'm gonna give you this one. But having said that, efforts to prepare were rebuffed. The Afghan gov't did not want the US beginning mass evacuations for the reasons cited above.)
4. The US could have given those in jeopardy more warning. (No. We began discussing leaving seriously 12 yrs ago. Trump announced he wanted out when he ran & signed a deal w/an earlier deadline last yr. Biden ran saying he would leave. State warned people to leave in April.)
5. The US abandoned our allies. (No. Some of those allies left before we did. Others were well aware of US discussions re: departure, knew of the Trump deal. And there has been close coordination with allies throughout this evacuation process.)
6. The evacuation was bungled. (No. It started off badly. But it is still under way. It is currently one of the biggest airlifts in human history and within hours we will pass 100,000 safely flown out of Kabul. Actually, it has turned out to be a masterful logistical feat.)
7. Taliban control of Afg will make it a potential breeding ground for terror again. (There was no scenario in which they didn't gain control. The US has many means to respond to terror threats. Despite US military presence in Afg. the Taliban steadily gained ground for years.)
8. People will be left behind. (It is wildly unrealistic to think the US could remove everyone at risk from Afg. What's being done is above and beyond expectations. Other forms of political, diplomatic & economic pressure must be used to promote human rights in Afghanistan.)
9. We could easily have left troops there indefinitely. (No. There was a cost to that and a risk. The risk grew as the Taliban grew in strength. Trump accelerated that with the release of prisoners and his announced departure. Staying would have required a bigger investment.)
10. But we have left troops in Germany and Korea. (Not comparable. Those are allied nations facing real imminent threats from major enemies who pose a strategic risk to the United States. We have no similar on-going interest in Afghanistan.)
11. But the troops could have protected women and girls. (First, as noted, the Taliban was gaining strength for years--despite the presence of the troops. Second, troops are not the means we advance such interests anywhere else. It is not a sustainable or effective approach.)
12. But Biden says human rights are at the center of our foreign policy. (That can be true without deploying troops to confront all threats to rights. It must be. Because we'll never do that.Are critics suggesting deployments now to Ethiopia? Myanmar? To protect women elsewhere?)
13. It's not about getting out of Afghanistan. That's a distraction from the issue at hand. (No. It is about getting out of Afghanistan. It is about ending a 20 yr war. It is about acknowledging a massive US foreign policy failure & shifting to new priorities. That's the point.)
14. Biden was part of the problem, he's known about this all along. (No. Biden has been arguing to wind this down for 12 years. His view was over-ruled by President Obama. And after 9/11 almost everyone supported going in after Al Qaeda. For good reason.)
15.'s messy and painful. (As @stephenwertheim has pointed out. You can't lose a war and make it look like you've won. Getting out was right. Some chaos was inevitable. The airlift is a major logistical achievement.)

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More from @djrothkopf

17 Sep
With every passing day, it looks less like we have one nation divided by differing political beliefs and more like we have two warring countries battling each other within shared borders. One side represents and seeks to preserve the United States. The other seeks to destroy it.
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11 Sep
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Another failed NY Times oped by Bret Stephens. Is it a bigger failure for Stephens (who is consistently bad...but seldom this bad) or the editors at The NY Times (who chose to give this kind of fact-ignoring, reality twisting sophistry a platform)?…
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And now, the latest Biden report from the Conventional News Network...

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