Afghan citizens who have been evacuated from Kabul arrive at Torrejon Air Base in Torrejon de Ardoz, outside Madrid, Spain. Picture: REUTERS/JAVIER BARBANCHO
Afghan citizens who have been evacuated from Kabul arrive at Torrejon Air Base in Torrejon de Ardoz, outside Madrid, Spain. Picture: REUTERS/JAVIER BARBANCHO

Once upon a time, the standard rhetoric of US politics was that Democrat presidents got the country into wars, and Republican presidents got it out of them.

Cue Lyndon Johnson sending the airmobile division — the "Cav" — to Vietnam in 1965, the beginning of a huge surge of troop deployments to battle the commies.

The awful mess in Southeast Asia was Richard Nixon’s to clean up and it was he who ordered the troops back home in 1973, leaving the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) to hold off the North Vietnamese Army, a task at which it failed epically.

The ARVN did put up a more spirited fight than the equally well-equipped Afghan National Army which, having been given $85bn worth of US weaponry, melted away at the first shot, leading many to think that its commanders had made a deal with the Taliban to go without a fuss.

As an SA contractor said to me last week, you don’t own an Afghan, you merely rent him.

Yet the blazing gasoline now raining down on the Oval Office in the wake of the Kabul debacle is much less about the failed Afghan adventure than an opportunity to sock it to Joe Biden.

Never mind that Biden urged Barack Obama to not send more troops to Afghanistan. Or that it was Donald Art of the Deal Trumpwhose deal with the Taliban involved letting 5,000 of its fighters out of jail, as if anyone actually believed they would return to their villages.

What remains is the news cycle. As it churns and politicians have the full attention of their constituents — admittedly briefly — the bloodletting, from Republicans and Democrats alike, is in full roar.

Soon the cycle will find something else to prey on while the real victims — the women and children of Afghanistan — will fade from the screens.

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