President Biden has been on the receiving end of nearly universal criticism over his handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, but David Rothkopf sounds a note contrary to all that in the Atlantic. Biden, he writes in his essay, "deserves credit, not blame." Biden's three predecessors all came to the conclusion that the US needed to get out of Afghanistan, but "Biden alone had the political courage" to actually make it happen. Yes, the swiftness of the Taliban takeover surprised the White House and, yes, "those early days could have been handled better," writes Rothkopf. But many of Biden's critics seem to be using this withdrawal to obscure the egregious mistakes made under previous administrations.
Some of these critics were members or supporters of the Bush administration, which got us into this mess "without a clear exit or metric of success," Rothkopf writes. Some were members or supporters of the Obama White House, which "had doubled down" on forces then lacked the "political courage" to withdraw when the war's futility became clear. And some were members or allies of the Trump administration, which struck a deal with the Taliban and then "punted" its actual execution to the next White House. As for Biden: In "a stark change from recent years, an American leader has done the hard thing, the right thing: set aside politics and put both America’s interests and values first." Read the full essay. (Read more Afghanistan stories.)