In his August 20 Wall Street Journal Best of the Web column James Freeman provides a useful roundup of stories on the unfolding catastrophe in Kabul. I haven’t seen elsewhere one point he makes. “The speed of the collapse has been particularly shocking to those who made the mistake of crediting the words of the U.S. president,” he writes, quoting Alberto Nardelli’s Bloomberg story:
President Joe Biden told key allies in June that he would maintain enough of a security presence in Afghanistan to ensure they could continue to operate in the capital following the main U.S. withdrawal, a vow made before the Taliban’s rapid final push across the country, according to a British diplomatic memo seen by Bloomberg.
Biden promised U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other leaders at the Group of Seven summit in Cornwall, England, that “critical U.S. enablers” would remain in place to keep Kabul safe following the drawdown of NATO forces, the note said. British officials determined the U.S. would provide enough personnel to ensure that the U.K. embassy in Kabul could continue operating.
Freeman comments: “No wonder Mr. Biden wasn’t eager to pick up the phone when Mr. Johnson called this week.”