Reason Roundup

Biden: It's Time for Afghanistan Forces 'To Fight for Themselves'

Plus: YouTube and radicalization, the infrastructure sham, and more...


"I do not regret my decision," President Joe Biden told reporters yesterday when asked about the U.S. finally withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.

Some 3,000 U.S. troops were scheduled to leave the area on May 1, per Trump administration orders after negotiations with Taliban leaders. But in April, Biden inexplicably pushed the withdrawal date back to September 11, despite Taliban threats to increase violence if the troops stayed beyond May. Then, in July, he again moved the withdrawal deadline, now to August 31.

These days, Biden is still promising to stay the withdrawal course—despite recent Taliban takeovers of some Afghan cities and war hawk rumblings that it's our duty to stay.

"We spent over a trillion dollars, over 20 years. We trained and equipped with modern equipment over 300,000 Afghan forces," Biden said Tuesday. "They've got to fight for themselves."

Biden echoed Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, who said on Monday "it's their country to defend now; this is their struggle."

This is the right decision. As

The fundamentals of the war have remained unchanged since nearly the beginning. The Taliban insurgency can and will outlast the U.S. occupation and the U.S.-backed regime in Kabul is too corrupt and weak to establish itself as a sovereign. … The fact that we have failed to defeat the Taliban or to effectively establish a new government after almost 20 years of trying strongly suggests it is an unachievable mission and, far from a reason to stay longer, is in fact a compelling reason to leave as soon as possible.

If the U.S. really wants to help the country's people (instead of just pursuing forever-war lust), it should open American borders to more Afghan immigrants.

"The first step is to restart the refugee program that was effectively canceled by President Donald Trump," wrote Glaser and Nowrasteh back in April. "Biden said he wants to welcome 125,000 refugees, but he hasn't taken the first step—authorizing an additional 62,500 this year—even though the presidential determination is sitting on his desk waiting for his signature. Biden could permit entry to 40,000 Afghans a year if he wanted to."

"A second step would be to allow Americans to privately sponsor refugees at their own expense," they add.

The Biden administration has started moving to welcome more refugees, though it's been ridiculously slow moving and narrowly tailored.

The State Department finally announced earlier this month that it would allow more Afghan refugees, but only those who were associated with the U.S. government. "This designation expands the opportunity to permanently resettle in the United States to many thousands of Afghans and their immediate family members who may be at risk due to their U.S. affiliation but who are not eligible for a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV)," the Department said.

And "the program will not offer evacuation flights for these Afghan refugees, who would have to find a way to leave the country on their own," NBC reported on August 2.


More evidence that YouTube isn't the radicalization machine people think: 


The infrastructure bill passed the U.S. Senate yesterday, promising $1.2 trillion in new spending if it goes on to pass the House. Peter Suderman explains why it's "a sham"—and not only that. "It's a sham that sets up a much bigger round of explicitly partisan spending later in the year," he points out:

In a climactic vote this afternoon, 19 Senate Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.), signed onto the bill, which calls for $550 billion in new spending as part of more than $1 trillion in funding for roads, bridges, waterways, and broadband. The bill also includes essential infrastructure provisions like, er, requiring unproven new drunk-driving-prevention technology on cars, a vaping ban on Amtrak, and new reporting requirements for cryptocurrency.

The Republicans repeatedly claimed that the spending would be fully paid for, despite plenty of reasons to suspect that it won't be. As Reason's Eric Boehm reported, the Congressional Budget Office, Congress' nonpartisan scorekeeper, estimates that the bill would add at least $256 billion to the deficit, and probably more like $400 billion. Nineteen Republicans voted for it anyway.

The same Republicans also claim that while they support the infrastructure spending, they are deeply opposed to the rest of the Democratic agenda, which is being moved separately as part of a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package that Democrats plan to pass on a party line.

You might think of the budget resolution as the "everything else bill." It funds the bulk of President Joe Biden's agenda that is not physical infrastructure.

See also: "When Congress moves fast, it breaks things."


• Andrew Cuomo is out. The New York governor resigned yesterday amid sexual harassment allegations.

• "The FBI has built a massive network of spies to prevent another domestic attack. But are they busting terrorist plots—or leading them?" asks Trevor Aaronson at Mother Jones.

• The Backpage trial, which was supposed to start later this month, has been postponed again:

• Radley Balko explains "why we can't trust the states to prevent wrongful convictions."

• "For the first time in the history of the country's census-taking, the number of White people in the United States is widely expected to show a decline when the first racial breakdowns from the 2020 Census are reported this week," notes The Washington Post.

• United Airlines is requiring employees to be vaccinated.

• TikTok has overtaken Facebook as the most downloaded app.

• Sigh: