The United States’ involvement in Afghanistan has finally come to an end, as the last plane with US troops left Kabul early Tuesday morning. Now any Americans left in the country are on their own. While the decision to leave Afghanistan was the right one, its execution leaves much to be desired. In fact, it’s not too much of a stretch to call what transpired utterly disgraceful.
The Biden administration is trying to claim that only 100-200 Americans are left in Afghanistan. Whether that’s the case or not is unknown. With Western journalists having left the country, news is hard to come by. It could be weeks or even months before we find out how many Americans were left behind.
Part of the reason for that was the continuing conflicting information received from the government. Many Americans were told not to come to the airport, due to the likelihood of attacks. And unlike other countries like the UK, which sent soldiers into Kabul to rescue its nationals, the US government sat back at the airport, content to airlift tens of thousands of Afghans while US citizens remained in hiding in the city. It was shameful behavior, and if the stories of the Americans left behind in Afghanistan ever sees the light of day, it will be a huge black mark on Biden’s legacy.
The US also gave the Taliban the names and information of US citizens and Afghan allies it wanted to evacuate. It’s like giving the Taliban a wish list of everyone they wanted to kill. Hopefully many of the people on that list were able to make it out, but we know that many of them are likely still stuck there.
The US reaction to the ISIS attack on the Kabul airport was similarly ill-fated, with a drone strike on a car reported to be filled with explosives allegedly responsible for the deaths of numerous civilians. It was perhaps a fitting end to a military occupation that should have ended years ago, a microcosm of everything that went wrong in the US involvement in the country.
But just because we’re out of Afghanistan doesn't mean we won’t feel the effects of the legacy of our occupation. With tens of thousands of Afghan refugees having come into the country, including convicted criminals, we’re likely to see criminals and terrorists among them, with their actions being felt in this country for years to come.
All of this is part of the legacy of intervention. While it can be argued that the hunt for Osama bin Laden may have been justified, once he was killed (in Pakistan, no less) any justification for a continued presence in Afghanistan disappeared. If there’s anything good that comes out of this debacle, it’s hopefully the lesson that American lives and taxpayer dollars aren’t worth spending on attempts at nation-building.