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Pankaj Mishra

Imperial Fantasies Fueled the Afghan Tragedy

The real threat to Western security and credibility may not come from Afghanistan’s Pashtun countryside, but from what has passed for thinking in much of the Beltway. 

The Taliban’s takeover seemed effortless. 

The Taliban’s takeover seemed effortless. 

Source: AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. decision to withdraw combat troops from Afghanistan, announced by Barack Obama in 2014, formalized by Donald Trump in 2019 and implemented by Joe Biden in 2021, has provoked a howl of anguish among political, security and media establishments across the Atlantic.

Max Boot of the Council on Foreign Relations summed up a broad swath of opinion among foreign policy elites by denouncing Biden as “calamitously, tragically, wrong.” Tony Blair termed the U.S. decision “imbecilic,” claiming that the Western troops sent to Afghanistan in late 2001 when he was prime minister of the United Kingdom should stay on to protect their “gains.”