The U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan has quickly become the most embarrassing national security debacle since the Vietnam War. Perhaps more importantly, however, the debacle is one of the most inclusive of its kind in American history.
The Biden administration's Afghanistan policy may have failed in the conventional sense, but it was remarkably successful in terms of the gender and racial diversity of the individuals responsible for that failure. Many will die as a result, but blame for their deaths will be shared among an impressive array of female and BIPOC officials. All in all, this was a triumph of American exceptionalism.
Vice President Kamala Harris, for example, was reportedly the "last person in the room" with President Joe Biden when he made the decision to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan. Harris, a female BIPOC of Tamil Indian and Afro-Jamaican descent, is also in charge of the Biden administration's failed efforts to secure the southern border. Harris's chief spokeswoman, Symone Sanders, is also a prominent BIPOC.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is the first African American to serve in that position and the first to preside over a military defeat of such extraordinary magnitude. Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence, is the first woman to oversee an epic intelligence failure after U.S. spy agencies estimated the Taliban would overrun Kabul within 90 days of the U.S. withdrawal. It happened in 72 hours. Haines used to host regular "erotica night" events at a bookstore in Baltimore.
Another important figure in Biden's decision to withdraw from Afghanistan is Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, the former director of EMILY's List who served as lead negotiator for the Iran nuclear deal. She was joined by Victoria Nuland, the undersecretary of state for political affairs. Nuland prepared at Choate Rosemary Hall, graduated from Brown University, and served as a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution. She is also a woman who has defended Chinese propaganda.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, provided invaluable representation as a person of color with a vagina. Alejandro Mayorkas, the secretary of Homeland Security, was a critical voice from the Latinx community as he oversaw the administration's efforts to provide visas to military interpreters and other Afghan refugees. Those efforts, of course, have been severely compromised by the Taliban's rapid conquest. Their blood, however, will be on the most diverse set of hands in the history of American decision-making.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki is conveniently out of the office until August 22 but has been both a fearless defender of the administration's decision to withdraw from Afghanistan and a stern critic of the Taliban. Last week, for example, she warned that the militant group "has to make an assessment about what they want their role to be in the international community." In addition to being a female social media influencer, Psaki is also a proud member of the underrepresented Ginger-American community.
Biden himself brings a diverse perspective to his administration by representing a community—near-octogenarians in cognitive decline—that is often underrepresented at the highest levels of government and in corporate America, albeit for obvious reasons. His is a valuable perspective that deserves to be included in our body politic.
As a candidate for president in 2020, Biden made clear he would accept "zero responsibility" for a Taliban takeover in Afghanistan and the subsequent suffering of the country's female population. Afghan women should take this point into account before blaming the Biden administration for the brutal repression they are about to endure. Instead of complaining, perhaps they should celebrate the extraordinary female representation among the American officials who engineered this monumental human rights disaster.
Biden's efforts to prioritize diversity at home may already be inspiring a new generation of Afghan leaders to embrace Western standards of inclusive progress. On Sunday, for example, a Taliban spokesman expressed his fellow terrorists' commitment to an "open, inclusive Islamic government" in Afghanistan.