• Show Notes

Dear Listener,

There is a lot of lacerating rhetoric flying around over the situation in Afghanistan. As the fate of Afghan interpreters and allies appears unclear at this moment, it looks to many like chaos, like miscalculation, like failure to anticipate. Some see an intelligence failure, some a policy mistake, some a leadership debacle. There is worry about the ability to evacuate tens of thousands of Americans still in country who may be unable to make it to Kabul’s airport and there’s fretting about the future for women and girls under harsh Taliban rule.

There is also, to be sure, a large amount of support for Biden’s move among the American people, and in some quarters, not a lot of empathy for Afghans who they perceive were unwilling to fight for themselves. There is the view, articulated by President Biden himself, that such chaos was inevitable given the dynamics in that country. Or, as Fareed Zakaria put it, we lost in Afghanistan long ago, and “There is no elegant way to lose a war.”

On all sides, moreover, there is considerable conflation of the decision to withdraw with the execution of that withdrawal, which means many people are talking past each other in this debate.