On August 15, detachments of the Taliban terrorist movement banned in Russia entered the capital of Afghanistan, establishing control over the city. The same day, the Taliban announced to have taken control of the country's entire territory. Servicemen of the government units were allowed to go home, and everyone, including foreigners, was offered an opportunity to leave Kabul. Employees of the US diplomatic mission were urgently evacuated from the embassy and taken by helicopters to the capital's airport. Before the evacuation, American diplomats had to burn the flags of the United States.
The whirlwind attack of the Taliban throughout the country and seizure of Kabul came out of the blue to Joe Biden's administration. The White House was definitely not ready for such a scenario; it seemed stunned and confused. "Kabul’s Sudden Fall to Taliban Ends U.S. Era in Afghanistan," read a front page headline of The New York Times (NYT) on August 16. According to the outlet, "President Biden will go down in history, fairly or unfairly, as the president who presided over a humiliating final act in the American experiment in Afghanistan."
Taking up the NYT lead, almost all the American media, both left and right, have come down on the White House. For one, CNN believes that Biden's failed withdrawal from Afghanistan is a long-overdue catastrophe both abroad and domestically. "The debacle of the US defeat and chaotic retreat in Afghanistan is a political disaster for Joe Biden, whose failure to orchestrate an urgent and orderly exit will further rock a presidency plagued by crises and stain his legacy. But a stunning Taliban blitzkrieg followed more than 20 years of US and allied policy failures, misunderstandings of Afghan politics and culture, public war fatigue and the culpability and corruption of the failed state's leaders," CNN comments.
President Biden's entourage has attempted an excuse for Washington's incompetent policy in Afghanistan. Thus, US President's National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan tried to shuffle off the blame for his country's failure on to the local governments, and accused the Afghan armed forces of laying down their arms so quickly in the face of the Taliban's lightning advance. In turn, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the United States has achieved the main thing in Afghanistan – it has destroyed Al-Qaeda (a terrorist organization banned in Russia), whose militants are responsible for the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington, which was the reason for US military presence in Afghanistan. But all these excuses by American officials look pathetic and unconvincing amid America's general failure in the Afghan gamble, which, by the way, cost the country almost $1 trillion and the lives of nearly 2.5 thousand soldiers.
However, it should be noted here that the true scale of the Afghan crisis can only be judged in terms of the human tragedy of ordinary people, who will once again get into trouble with the Taliban. And failure to evacuate all the interpreters, workers and other assistants, whom the US relied on during its stay in the country and who now face retribution from the Taliban, has yet again demonstrated what Washington's allied obligations are worth. This will certainly tarnish America's conscience and global reputation. The Hill newspaper typically claims that Afghanistan will draw a line under America's world supremacy.
Furthermore, the US geopolitical position will be drastically undermined. After the Afghan failure, the United States gave a handle to strongly doubt its capability of protect Pax Americana. As another American newspaper, The National Interest (NI) notes, "Afghanistan is a wake-up call for 'major non-NATO allies'", be it Israel, Japan, Taiwan, Ukraine, Georgia, or Moldova, who will learn a lesson and realize that from now on they will have to independently deal with their enemies. The NI article suggests that the US will no longer help them in the case.
The current Afghan crisis, which has developed at a fast pace, at least for most people in the United States who have long glanced away from the country's longest war in history, has become President Biden's greatest challenge. And the whole thing happened just a few days after he exulted in his victory of having sent over $4.5 trillion for infrastructure and budget spending to the Senate for approval. The victory bid defiance to skeptics who had long scorned Biden's vow to unite the Democrats and the Republicans, followed his previous signing of the Covid-19 relief bill, and cemented his reputation as an effective leader at home. For the time being, much of this momentum runs the risk of being drowned out by America's inglorious defeat in Afghanistan.
The Afghan crisis seems to have made it clear to Joe Biden that he is now forced to foot the bill for his predecessors' mistakes during the 20 years of war in Afghanistan to which he added his own ones. For instance, he initiated a hasty withdrawal of troops from that country, seeking to establish a proper image as the president who returned American troops home on the eve of the 20th anniversary of 9/11 terrorist attacks, as well as ahead of 2022 midterm elections to the Congress.
It is fair to note at the same time that President Biden did exactly what most Americans wanted, exhausted by long years of external quagmire and wondering why American troops needed stay in Afghanistan two decades after 9/11. Escalation of war enjoyed no national support. In order to stop the Taliban offensive, the US president would have to deploy thousands more American troops and conduct new warfare without public support. Perhaps his own long-term skepticism about the war made Biden's decision to withdraw troops all but inevitable. But the Taliban's vigorous offensive and the weakness of political regime in Afghanistan has caught the White House by surprise, and demonstrated the current administration's ineptitude to manage present-day processes taking place in Afghanistan.