Afghanistan Update: 18 August, 2021

As the Afghan debacle continued to unfold, the incompetence demonstrated by the Biden administration continues to defy logic. Politics aside, there were opportunities to change the script in the previous weeks, so to speak, and make certain the forces and capabilities were on hand to conduct a major evacuation from a rapidly crumbling Afghanistan. The White House simply couldn’t be bothered. Now, instead of admitting its mistakes, the Biden administration continues to point the finger and lay blame on a myriad of people and organizations while being careful not to accept a shred of responsibility. Even the excuses are becoming more desperate and asinine. In his first interview since Kabul fell over the weekend, Biden even claimed that he believed there was no way the departure of US troops could’ve been handled better. Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has admitted that US forces do not have the numbers or capability to go out into the countryside and gather large numbers of civilians who are eligible for the government flights out of Kabul. He also said that Taliban checkpoints were permitting U.S. citizens through to reach the airport. The fate of eligible Afghan citizens, on the other hand, is unknown.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s exiled leader Ashraf Ghani and his family have arrived in the UAE. That nation’s government is welcoming them on humanitarian grounds. Ghani continues to claim that he left Afghanistan to avoid bloodshed and chaos. He claims that he is currently in talks to return to the country but did not reveal any details. Even if he is permitted to return, it is not likely that Ghani will be welcomed back with open arms. Many Afghan politicians are bitter about him leaving the country. Even US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman told journalists today that Ghani is “no longer a figure in Afghanistan.”

This will be a wrap for the daily Afghan updates, at least for the time being. Tomorrow’s post will look at Taiwan and China’s increasingly aggressive moves in the waters and air around that island nation in the aftermath of events in Afghanistan. Then this weekend I’ll catch up with the August DIRT project and discuss how some of the lessons and warnings from the Afghan situation might also apply to North Korea.

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