Biden and the paradox of the weak
Biden's Afghanistan withdrawal exposes a deficiency that will only embolden adversaries
President Biden has declared that his dishonorable surrender to the Taliban is an “extraordinary success” and, falling prey to the fallacy of the excluded middle (a use of false dichotomous logic that historian David Hackett Fischer singled out for “special condemnation” years ago), has suggested the only alternative to his shambolic and disorganized withdrawal was a massive escalation. This is the same false logic that he and President Barack Obama used during their administration to argue on behalf of the nuclear deal with Iran. The only alternative, they averred, was war with Iran—something that the Trump administration (for all its failings, including in Afghanistan) conclusively proved was false.
The Biden team’s shocking failure to consider even the direct consequences of its humiliating Afghanistan withdrawal—not to mention the second- and third-order effects—suggests that an urgent course correction is required to protect the nation’s ongoing national security interests. The national security team, largely recruited on the basis of its members’ closeness to the president, has turned out to be one of the most insular and cloistered teams in recent memory. It is not surprising that Biden’s advisers would so easily succumb to the kind of groupthink that seems to have marked their deliberations on Afghanistan. Since they face perhaps the most daunting set of foreign policy and security challenges in recent memory, it is worth outlining some of the snares and traps they might want to avoid and provide some suggestions they might want to consider as they move forward.