Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg penned a scathing and informative column Sunday at his eponymous website with the theme of the United States having a “moral and strategic responsibility” to remain engaged in Afghanistan’s future.
Asking at the onset, “After this tragedy, can America’s word ever be trusted?” Bloomberg confessed the Taliban is in control and “even the best-case scenario qualifies as a disaster.”
“Afghanistan’s democracy will be eviscerated. Its economic gains will be reversed. More jobs and homes and lives will be lost,” Bloomberg predicted. “Ethnic minorities will be imperiled and extremist groups emboldened. Drug networks will expand and refugee flows will surge. For women and girls, the threat is especially menacing.”
He claimed America “will likely cede influence in the region to China” as Beijing accepts Taliban rule for their own self-interest in Afghanistan’s natural resources.
The failed 2020 presidential candidate cast blame on the last four presidential administrations, noting that Afghanistan policy “has veered from incoherent to counterproductive” due to “mismanagement, cultural naïveté and recurring strategic missteps.“
While noting the lack of fatalities over the past year-and-a-half in Afghanistan, Bloomberg said the Taliban “simply were biding their time.”
“In the face of such tragedy, can the U.S. still manage to leave with some measure of honor?” he also asked.
But unlike redundant isolationists who regurgitate clichés about “endless wars” and “nation-building” on cable news without presenting solutions or ideas, Bloomberg has some.
He advised speeding up efforts to evacuate the thousands of Afghans who worked for the U.S. and have become targets.
“Biden also needs to show leadership in constraining the Taliban,” Bloomberg wrote. “Cajoling neighboring countries for intelligence support and basing rights for U.S. planes will be essential. Any sanctions relief for a Taliban-run government — let alone international aid or investment — should be premised on respecting basic human rights, controlling the drug trade and reviving the peace process.”
Like others, he recommended targeted airstrikes to buy time and avoid further collapses.
Bloomberg concluded thusly — perhaps with a jab at the anti-war and isolationist wings: “Words are easy. Solutions are hard. Equally hard, though, are the inescapable memories — as distant as fascist Europe, as close as Syria — of what has happened when America has not done enough.”