Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger bemoaned America’s failure in the tragic turn of events in conflicts in a new opinion piece for The Economist, arguing that at some point in its 20-year campaign, the U.S. military lost strategic focus.
While Americans and Afghan allies still stranded in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of U.S. troops, Kissinger, who served as Secretary of State under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, wondered why the United States appeared to exit the country “without much warning or consultation with allies or the people most directly involved in 20 years of sacrifice.”
He identified unattainable goals as the fundamental cause of the collapse.
“The United States has torn itself apart in its counterinsurgent efforts because of its inability to define attainable goals and to link them in a way that is sustainable by the American political process,” Kissinger wrote. “The military objectives have been too absolute and unattainable and the political ones too abstract and elusive. The failure to link them to each other has involved America in conflicts without definable terminal points and caused us internally to dissolve unified purpose in a swamp of domestic controversies.”
While the U.S. military helped contain the Taliban at the early stages of its mission, Kissinger argued the plan went awry when America decided it needed to help turn Afghanistan into a modern state with democratic institutions.
“But nation-building in a war-torn country absorbed substantial military forces,” Kissinger said. “The Taliban could be contained but not eliminated. And the introduction of unfamiliar forms of government weakened political commitment and enhanced already rife corruption.”
joe-biden” target=”_blank”>President Joe Biden< by the Washington Post for claiming he believed nation-building “never made any sense.” The outlet dug up several of Biden’s past comments to suggest the opposite, including in 2004 when then-Sen. Biden told his congressional colleagues “the alternative to nation-building is chaos.”
The Post called Biden’s seemingly contradictory comments “sloppy” and “disconcerting.” Other media have used even harsher words to describe the Biden administration’s leadership during the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. CNN panelists called the president’s rhetoric “bizarre” and out of touch with reality, while others have ripped the White House for failing to provide an accurate number of how many Americans are still left in the embattled country. In some cases, Biden has avoided questions altogether.
Conditions at the Kabul airport, where Americans and Afghan allies are attempting to flee the country, have reportedly deteriorated, with officials warning of an “imminent” terrorist threat.