Mauren: Processing Afghanistan

Columnist Jacob Mauren analyzes the presidential decision of removing troops from Afghanistan. 

Jacob Mauren

The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan has left us with countless dramatic images and fiery talking points from political commentators. As the seemingly endless war draws to a chaotic end, it has been difficult to process how I really feel about the situation. Should I be re-thinking my confidence in Joe Biden’s foreign policy knowledge or is it naive to think leaving a twenty-year conflict would go seamlessly?

First off, some have questioned America’s choice to leave the country after the Taliban quickly retook it and ousted the US installed government. This is purely a whiplash reaction to unfortunate complications and does not reflect the opinions or interests of the American people. 

A survey published by The Hill in early July found that 73 percent of Americans supported leaving Afghanistan. Even after the seemingly botched evacuation, 63 percent of the country supported the removal. Though feelings were much more mixed on the handling of said withdrawal. 

The seemingly strategic removal of American troops dissolved within days. After training and arming approximately 300,000 Afghan troops, the Taliban took back the capital city of Kabul with little resistance. This left thousands of American citizens and allies hiding out of fear and scrambling for evacuation. Scenes of mobs storming the Kabul airport and Afghanis clinging to American transports flooded social media and made it clear we had been caught off guard. 

My initial reaction was one of disappointment towards Biden and embarrassment of being a part of the country that created this war. How could so many years of work disappear in less than a month? How could we let such an intelligence failure happen? How did we leave so many Americans vulnerable? It was a day that my confidence in our country was not at its highest.

But as the days went by, my thoughts cleared as the situation on the ground did. We quickly secured the airport and soon evacuation flights were going full force. As of Monday evening, at least 37,000 people have been safely evacuated from Afghanistan. 

I began to realize an opinion on the situation would have to be more nuanced than one of complete approval or disapproval. I believe there were important and preventable missteps that led to the chaotic situation in Kabul. But I also believe it would be foolish to expect such a conflict to end perfectly to plan with no issues. 

I have to look at the overall situation and see that for the first time since I was an infant, the US is not fighting a war on the other side of the world. No more Americans are being sent to risk their lives thousands of miles from home for an objective nobody could name. The specifics are fair game for scrutiny but the overall situation will be better for our country and its future. 

While some confidence was shaken, I still believe we made the correct choice.