Exit Strategy

Facts are noisome things, standing as they do between belief — wishful thinking — and reality. The notion that the catastrophe in Afghanistan, for example, is all down to the Biden administration is without foundation in actuality, in the real world we all inhabit but might at times wish we didn’t.

That “it happened on Biden’s watch” is in fact not the same as “Biden created it.” The creation has been twenty long years in the making, beginning with an invasion that had no real exit strategy and ending with an agreement to withdraw negotiated without the participation of the Afghanistan government. The past administration’s sorry collection of ne’er-do-wells, grifters, and incompetents agreed to the 31 August deadline without getting much of anything in return. Perhaps they thought they’d still be at the wheel and could deny that what was happening, was happening; perhaps they hoped that they’d be turned out and would be able to blame it on the new administration.

Part of leadership is doing the job without blame-shifting, hand-waving, or excuse-making.  It’s all about execution. The Afghanistan withdrawal and its aftermath have happened, are happening, on President Biden’s watch. The president, to his credit, has been up front about where the buck stops: with him. He has made no excuses, nor has he bothered much to explain that this mess is not of his making; it’s simply his to clean up. He’s playing the hand he was dealt. Managing the current crisis is, as noted, all about execution. It hasn’t been flawless and never could be, but 122,000 evacuees over a ten-day period is impressive.

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