John has spotted one noteworthy Afghanistan-related piece in today’s Sunday New York Times, a column by Kori Schake that tries to blame the fiasco on Donald Trump. Trump’s deal was garbage, but the Taliban didn’t live up to its conditions, so Joe Biden wasn’t obligated to follow it.
Indeed, there’s little reason to assume that Trump himself would have adhered to the deal, and less to believe that, if he had, the pullout would have been as botched as Biden’s (though it wouldn’t have been pretty). In addition, Biden has said he would have pulled out even if Trump hadn’t entered into the agreement to do so.
But as far as the Times is concerned, Schake’s piece doesn’t need to be long on solid analysis. Schake is a conservative — director of defense and foreign policy studies at AEI and a George W. Bush administration foreign policy veteran. As my friend who is keeping me abreast of the Times’ coverage of Afghanistan says, “NYT‘s editors are happy to use a conservative to shift as much of the blame as possible to Trump.”
The most important Afghanistan-related piece in today’s Times comes from star reporter, Peter Baker. The Baker article offers plenty of criticism of Biden, much of it along the same lines I have presented on Power Line, including quotes from W. Bush administration veterans and Gen. David Petraeus.
There is also a lot of material on what led Biden to think that getting out in the specific way that he did made sense at the time. I’ve read the piece and recommend it.
As to the overall coverage of Afghanistan in today’s edition of the Times, my friend writes:
The Sunday NYT Week in Review section would typically be filled with opinion columns and editorials addressing any crisis of the magnitude of the current one in Afghanistan. With one notable exception, however, today’s NYT Sunday Review section is silent on the crisis of the moment.
NYT has steadfastly avoided any official editorials on the Afghanistan fiasco, and that lack of institutional comment continues. Instead, we’re treated to Op-Eds on Covid, climate, and the nature of consciousness in cats and computers.
What to make of all this? My friend, an astute observer of the media, says:
I’m speculating, but I’ve been sensing a tension between NYT’s editorial staff, on the one hand, and the news editors/reporters, on the other.
The editorial folks are silent and steaming. They want to defend Biden, but don’t quite know how. One of the opinion editors made the case the other day for recognizing the Taliban. A recent Op-Ed advocated for blanket acceptance of Afghan refugees, without vetting.
But the folks on the news side are unhappy with the fiasco and not afraid to blame Biden, at least up to a point. The foreign policy staff may be the one part of NYT that hasn’t gone entirely “woke.”
So maybe I should start calling this series “When you’ve lost part of the New York Times.”