(Chidanand Rajghatta is a journalist and author. The column first appeared in the print edition of Times of India on August 16, 2021)
- Stand by for military historians and strategic analysts to wheel out familiar tropes – march of folly, graveyard of empires etc – as the United States bolts ignominiously from Afghanistan. The chaos and mayhem unfolding on the tarmac of Kabul airport has been 20 years or more in the making. There is little doubt that Washington screwed up – not just in organising an orderly withdrawal from Afghanistan but from the outset in its approach to the crisis itself. But who among its leaders is responsible for this catastrophic meltdown? As the White House incumbent, President Joe Biden is left holding the can. A man whose resume is loaded with foreign policy experience, he has botched the logistics of withdrawal even as he argues he inherited the broader crisis from his predecessor Donald Trump, who struck a Faustian bargain by signing what was virtually a surrender document in Doha in February 2020.