The Taliban's return to power marks the first real foreign policy crisis of the Biden administration — and a rare moment of bipartisan criticism of Joe Biden.
But will the bungled withdrawal from Afghanistan scramble American politics, or merely deepen long-building fissures across the political spectrum?
On the right, attempts to save America's Afghan allies have resurfaced fierce divides over immigration and diversity. On the left, the pullout is reigniting a debate over the US's “forever wars.” Playbook co-authors Rachael Bade and Ryan Lizza tackle Biden's political pitfalls.
On Biden’s response to Afghanistan criticism
“I think the reaction from Biden is giving us a glimpse into one of the traits that hasn't really been on display a whole lot this year. … The trait of just his confidence and stubbornness, and what he's tried to get across in the speeches and press conferences that he's done on this issue is he has absolutely no regrets.
“This was 100 percent, in his view, the right decision. And it was inevitable that there would be some messiness at the end, and it was all to be expected and nobody should second-guess him or his administration. I feel like he has been, you know, aggressive in portraying the fact that he's right and all the critics are wrong.” — Ryan Lizza
“It's almost Trumpian, how [Biden] has sort of handled this week. I mean, this is all the reasons why Trump's base loved him so much. No apologies, no regrets. And Biden was very much taking that same tone this week.” — Rachael Bade
“He totally pivoted to an issue that a lot of Americans agree with, which is just, you know, the idea of leaving Afghanistan and bringing our troops home. But in many ways, it's a false choice. It's not really, you know, an indefinite presence versus a messy pull-out, and those are the only two options. You could have pulled out with more planning.” — Rachael Bade
On how Afghanistan will shape Biden’s legacy
“A lot of Republican lawmakers seem to think that they can hold up these promises that the United States made to Afghan civilians who have helped us — interpreters, translators, people who have helped U.S. troops and who are now left behind and who are more than likely going to find themselves in difficult positions, if not deadly positions, with the Taliban takeover.
“But there's this — you have this calculation that, you know, that's not going to resonate with the public, at least not long-term. … Foreign policy issues [are] a lot of times out of sight, out of mind for Americans.” — Rachael Bade
“Especially as people who cover things with our nose pressed up against the glass, you see things all the time in politics that blow up and burn really, really brightly and then, you know, fade just as quickly. And it's always difficult in the middle of those episodes to know whether this is something that's going to resonate more than a year from now in a midterm, or a few years from now in a presidential election.” — Ryan Lizza
On how anti-immigrant rhetoric is clouding the GOP's Afghanistan messaging
“Partywide, [Republicans] agree that they can try to use this to hurt Biden. … But then there's this other faction, this Trump wing of the party, that really wants to take over this messaging and sort of make it a base appeal and sort of feeding into this immigration culture war. And right now, they're sort of arguing that this entire fiasco was intentional on Biden's part and part of this sort of long-term bid by Democrats to bring refugees to the United States to change the body politic.
“.. And it's contradicting what a lot of Republicans, this sort of more salient point, I would argue, that people are making this point based on facts, which is that, you know, you're leaving allies behind — but sort of putting this conspiratorial spin on it that's really undermining that talking point.” — Rachael Bade
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