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A Tragedy 20 Years in the Making

As you probably know, the government has fled Afghanistan and ceded control of the country to the Taliban. You also know that the Biden administration has expressed surprise that the takeover happened as quickly as it did.

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Because of this “sooner than expected” takeover, the U.S. government was forced to rush troops back into the country to safely evacuate embassy personnel. Armed forces scrambled to control Karzai International Airport and create a temporary safe haven for the departure.

Since the evacuees left the country, criticism of President Biden, especially from the right, has begun in earnest. Don’t be fooled, folks. The collapse of the Afghan government was absolutely expected to follow the withdrawal of U.S. troops. The only “mild” surprise was the speed at which the collapse occurred.

I submit that this speed buttresses the wisdom of the decision. After 20 years of U.S. intervention, training, financial, military, and infrastructure support, the Afghan government and its people simply lacked the will to defend itself from its oppressive nemesis.

A corrupt, underfunded, and ill-prepared government and military essentially laid down arms and invited the Taliban to take over, leaving Afghani citizens to fend for themselves. Thousands rushed to the airport, even onto the tarmac, hoping to board planes and escape the country in advance of the Taliban’s complete takeover.

Again, the horrific images of desperate citizens clinging to moving planes were blamed on Biden, and the compressed time-period allotted for an orderly evacuation. The truth, however, is that the events in Afghanistan were pre-ordained. In fact, the original mission, ordered by President George W. Bush, almost 20 years ago, was always doomed to fail. How can we endlessly assist or protect a country that has no interest in assisting or protecting its own population?

Last November, you may remember, a lame duck president named Donald Trump ordered the withdrawal of U.S. forces, after negotiating a deal in May with Taliban leaders (He makes “the best deals,” remember?). Biden, simply, decided to honor the deal. Why? Because he knew that the alternative would be armed combat against an inevitable Taliban assault.

Hypocritical Republican political leaders (as opposed to many sensible Republican citizens) now feign “outrage” at Biden’s decision. Funny, considering they all supported the decision when Trump made it and started the ball rolling just a few months ago. In fact, many critics opine that it was Trump’s public timeline announcement of troop withdrawals that made it so easy for the Taliban to take over. The only alternative to this chaotic tragedy would have been to dishonor the agreement and endlessly occupy Afghanistan.

These Republicans who now lament chaos and the souls of those who now wish to flee to America but can’t, are the same Republicans who supported a candidate who said: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”

We cannot pretend to understand what will now become of Afghanistan under Taliban rule. Some say the Islamic militant group has softened a bit, especially in its historically brutal treatment of women. I doubt it. Expect the world to, once again, point to Afghanistan as a haven for human rights violators. That, I’m afraid, is inevitable.

If the decision is the wrong one, it is wrong for this reason alone: Should we be a country that endlessly protects the human rights of Afghan women when their own men and government won’t do so? Some would say “yes,” many would say “no.”

What do you say?

Mark M. Bello, a trial lawyer, is the author of "Supreme Betrayal" and other ‘ripped from the headlines’ Zachary Blake Social Justice Legal Thrillers available on and other online booksellers. For more information, please visit Mark also is co-host of the new podcast, Justice Counts, which beginning Aug. 16 will feature an interview with attorney Michael Bryant who represents numerous victims of abuse by Catholic priests.

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