Afghanistan

Smoke rises from a deadly explosion outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 26.

If Monday really marked President Joe Biden’s deadline to end America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, we can only note that his predecessor had a deadline, too.

That was more than a year ago, in the summer of 2020. Ultimately, President Donald Trump did not get his wish to leave then. And are we really going to leave now?

Operations to rescue Americans or our allies who are turned away by Taliban thugs at the Kabul airport are very likely to continue, covert special missions that are dangerous but necessary.

And after that, what does America’s withdrawal mean in the future, however much it is generally favored by the public in both parties, if the polls are correct?

America’s credibility in the world takes a hit but not a permanent one, argues Dennis Ross, an elder statesman of U.S. diplomacy.

“Partners and allies will publicly decry American decisions for some time, as they continue to rely on the U.S. economy and military,” Ross wrote in The New York Times. “The reality will remain: America is the most powerful country in the world, and its allies will need its help to combat direct threats and an array of new, growing national security dangers, including cyberwar and climate change.”

And does our departure from Afghanistan really end our involvement there forever? In ancient times, Pericles told the Athenians that if they wished to ignore politics — perhaps better translated as the threats from other Greek city-states — that did not mean that politics would ignore them.

With a worldwide scope for terrorism, Afghanistan may be with us much longer than Biden or Trump want, or America needs.