It’s hard to imagine how the debacle the Biden administration is overseeing in Afghanistan could be any worse. It’s such a self-evident fiasco, in fact, that even hardened advocates of America’s withdrawal from the world’s hot spots have been forced to admit that this whole thing could have been handled better. Much like Communism, America’s retrenchment from conflicts abroad has never really been tried and just needs better managers. But that’s as far as they’re willing to go. Across the political spectrum, champions of American introversion still insist that the collapse of the Afghan state was inevitable regardless of when or how we withdrew our commitments to it. Indeed, the disaster we’ve been forced to witness is being repurposed as a justification for the very circumstances that led to it.

On Monday, President Joe Biden delivered what could only have been a hastily prepared speech on the meltdown in Afghanistan before resuming his vacation. In it, the president abandoned his rationale for total U.S. withdrawal which, in July, was predicated on the competence, training, and numerical strength of the Afghan National Forces. This week, Biden insisted, withdrawal was justified by the abject weakness and cowardice of those very same Afghan soldiers.

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