People might be 'surprised by the speed of events, but the collapse was inevitable once Trump promised US withdrawal from Afghanistan during his pre-election campaign. His timetable was always unrealistically short, but Biden, who has been pro-withdrawal for over decade also erred by choosing an early withdrawal deadline date for symbolic domestic reasons (9/11 20th anniversary). In recent weeks I’ve read many accounts in the international press who criticised him for withdrawing before the end of the 2021 ‘fighting season’ which only lasts a few months before the onset of winter. The argument being that if the withdrawal had begun gradually later this year, there would have been more time for the various military and diplomatic forces to prepare for a resumption of hostilities in the Spring of next year.
I think that Biden, like Trump before him viewed the US withdrawal from a long, expensive and probably unwinnable war as being a popular vote-winner/ and that’s probably the case. It’s obviously going to be very crap for many Afghanis, but neither the US government nor US voters will be too worried about that.
There’s a further equally immoral and similarly pragmatic argument that, apart from its considerable impact on the Afghan people, the Taliban’s reconquest of Afghanistan probably won’t directly impinge on the West. Even, if as seems likely Al-Quaida set up shop there, their sponsorship of international terrorism will possibly be confined (as it is now) to the Middle East and Africa where there are many weak or unstable states with large Muslim populations.
Lastly, there’s the issue of a sudden large increase in the number of Afghan refugees. Canada, as is often the case, seems to be more willing than most countries to offer refuge to those who have helped it. Doubtless, as usual the UK will um and ah until it’s too late. Their recent unexpected reversal of policy towards HK holders of UK passports was welcome, but begged the question why were HKer’s British passports re-categorised in the years prior to the former colony being handed back to China? I’ve some possibe answers, but that’s straying too far off topic!