“There is no elegant way to lose a war,” Fareed Zakaria wrote last week in the Washington Post.
Of course, to describe the US withdrawal from Afghanistan merely as inelegant would understate the reality rather significantly. News stories from Afghanistan was dominated by images of the gut-wrenching images of the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding, along with stories about abandoned interpreters and other allies left behind as Kabul is evacuated.
No wonder, then, that much ink has been spilled in recent days on the fall of Afghanistan, particular to cast judgement on whether or not the decision to pull out was ultimately correct and to analyze the extent to which the United States bungled the final exit. Concurrent with this debate is commentary about what this means for US commitments around the world, including in Asia. “Fallout from fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban has prompted worries about the United States’ dependability” read a tweet from Asia Times.
The first debate on the merits and the mechanics of the withdrawal is probably timely. However, I would argue that the latter debate on ramifications for other regions, especially Asia, are either 1) overblown or 2) happening far too early, at a time when not much can be gleaned.