The United States is supposed to be mostly out of Afghanistan next month, ahead of the September 11 deadline set by President Joe Biden. We can only say “mostly” for the time being because the plan involves leaving both troops and diplomatic personnel in the Kabul embassy, located in the green zone. That plan may be changing sooner than anyone in the Biden administration thought, however, because the Taliban obviously has other ideas. There was a rocket attack on the green zone yesterday, seemingly aimed at the palace of President Ashraf Ghani. While the rockets all missed their target, some structural damage resulted, and one car, believed to have been used to launch the rockets, was destroyed. (Associated Press)
At least three rockets hit near the presidential palace on Tuesday shortly before Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was to give an address to mark the major Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.
There were no injuries and the rockets landed outside the heavily fortified palace grounds, said Mirwais Stanikzai, spokesman for the interior minister.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the rocket attack, but police quickly fanned out across the area.
Later in the day, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. Of course, at this point, distinguishing between ISIS and the Taliban inside of Afghanistan is difficult. They’re both working toward the same goal, which is to drive the Americans and their allies out of the country. The Taliban has the additional motive of overthrowing the U.S.-backed government in Kabul.
It might be tempting to write off three rockets that missed their target as no big deal, but that would probably be shortsighted on our part. For the past couple of months, the Taliban has seemed content to retake most of the outlying provinces in Afghanistan and steer clear of the capital. ISIS has similarly stuck to infiltrating allied areas to conduct isolated terror attacks and suicide bombings. But now some opposition forces are inside of the city and launching rockets over the walls of the green zone in broad daylight.
It’s hard not to come away with the impression that the wheels are coming off over there. We still have thousands of troops and diplomats inside of that zone and not very many supporting troops outside the walls. The ones we do have are primarily limited to the airport outside the city and we’re preparing to turn the airport over to Turkey and bug out of there as well. At what point will the White House realize that Ashraf Ghani’s government is going to fall and there will be no point in having an embassy in that city? Getting our people out of the green zone alive really needs to be a priority at this point, and if that situation turns into a replay of The Fall of Saigon and our people wind up being killed or captured, the blame is going to land on Joe Biden’s shoulders.
Meanwhile, the New York Times asks if America is “done being the world’s cop.” It’s a fair question and an appropriate time to ask it. There’s a distinct difference between defeating our enemies who would do us harm and trying to convert all of the nations of the world to free democracies. We planted the seeds of democracy in Afghanistan and tended them for 20 years. They withered. Even in Kabul, the government we helped establish is infamously corrupt. Ghani keeps close ties with warlords that have no interest in America beyond our ability to help them defeat their own rivals.
We have enough problems to deal with on the domestic front. We’re never going to “fix” Afghanistan because it’s unfixable. It’s long past time to come home.