纽约时报双语:阿富汗撤军:拜登无法摆脱的失败形象

阿富汗撤军:拜登无法摆脱的失败形象
For Biden, Images of Defeat He Wanted to Avoid
DAVID E. SANGER
2021年8月16日
纽约时报双语:阿富汗撤军:拜登无法摆脱的失败形象

Rarely in modern presidential history have words come back to bite an American commander in chief as swiftly as these from President Biden a little more than five weeks ago: “There’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy of the United States in Afghanistan.”

五个多星期前,拜登总统说:“无论如何,你都不会看到有人从美国驻阿富汗大使馆的屋顶上撤离。”在现代总统历史上,能够让一位美国三军统帅如此迅速地被自己的话“打脸”的例子十分罕见。

Then, digging the hole deeper, he added, “The likelihood there’s going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely.”

然后他说的话把这个坑挖得更深了:“塔利班全面统治并控制整个国家的可能性极小。”

On Sunday, the scramble to evacuate American civilians and embassy employees from Kabul — the very image that Mr. Biden and his aides agreed they had to avoid during recent meetings in the Oval Office — unfolded live on television, not from the U.S. Embassy roof but from the landing pad next to the building. And now that the Afghan government has collapsed with astonishing speed, the Taliban seem certain to be back in full control of the country when the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks is commemorated less than a month from today — exactly as they were 20 summers ago.

周日,美国平民和大使馆雇员从喀布尔慌乱撤离的场面在电视上直播,这正是拜登和他的助手们最近在椭圆形办公室举行会议时一致认为必须避免的景象。撤离并非发生在美国大使馆屋顶,而是在大使馆旁边的停机坪。现在阿富汗政府以惊人的速度垮台,塔利班似乎肯定会重新全面控制该国,就像回到了20年前的夏天,而此时距离2001年9月11日袭击事件纪念日不到一个月。

Mr. Biden will go down in history, fairly or unfairly, as the president who presided over a long-brewing, humiliating final act in the American experiment in Afghanistan. After seven months in which his administration seemed to exude much-needed competence — getting more than 70 percent of the country’s adults vaccinated, engineering surging job growth and making progress toward a bipartisan infrastructure bill — everything about America’s last days in Afghanistan shattered the imagery.

无论这是否公平,总之,拜登将以这样的形象被载入史册:在他的领导下,美国在阿富汗的实验以这样一个酝酿已久的、耻辱性的方式落幕。七个月来,他的政府似乎显示出了所需的能力——让这个国家70%以上的成年人接种了疫苗,推动就业增长,并在两党基础设施法案方面取得进展——而美国在阿富汗最后几天的一切都打破了这个形象。

Even many of Mr. Biden’s allies who believe he made the right decision to finally exit a war that the United States could not win and that was no longer in its national interest concede he made a series of major mistakes in executing the withdrawal. The only question is how politically damaging those will prove to be, or whether Americans who cheered at 2020 campaign rallies when both President Donald J. Trump and Mr. Biden promised to get out of Afghanistan will shrug their shoulders and say that it had to end, even if it ended badly.

拜登的许多盟友认为,他最终退出了一场美国无法获胜且不再符合国家利益的战争,这是正确的决定,即便如此,他们也承认他在执行撤军时犯了一系列重大错误。唯一的问题是,这些错误将造成多大的政治破坏,或者说,当唐纳德·J·特朗普(Donald J. Trump)总统和拜登都在2020年竞选集会上承诺撤出阿富汗,那些欢呼雀跃的美国人是否会耸耸肩说,必须结束了,即使结局很糟糕。

Mr. Biden knew the risks. He has often noted that he came to office with more foreign policy experience than any president in recent memory, arguably since Dwight D. Eisenhower. In meetings this spring about the coming U.S. withdrawal, Mr. Biden told aides that it was crucial they avoid the kind of scene that yielded the iconic photographs of Americans and Vietnamese scrambling up a ladder to a helicopter on a rooftop near the U.S. Embassy in Saigon when it was frantically evacuated in 1975, as the Vietcong swept into the city.

拜登知道有风险。他常说,作为总统,他在上任时拥有的外交政策经验是自德怀特·D·艾森豪威尔(Dwight D. Eisenhower)以来最丰富的。在今年春天关于美国即将撤军的会议上,拜登告诉助手们,要避免出现当年美国人和越南人在美国驻西贡大使馆屋顶慌忙爬梯子登上直升机的标志性场景,这一点至关重要。1975年,随着越共席卷这座城市,大使馆在慌乱中撤离。

Yet having decided in April to set the Sept. 11 anniversary as the date for the final American withdrawal, he and his aides failed to get the interpreters and others who helped American forces out of the country fast enough, and they were mired in immigration paperwork. There was no reliable mechanism in place for contractors to keep the Afghan Air Force flying as Americans packed up. The plan Mr. Biden talked about in late June to create what he called an “over-the-horizon capability” to bolster the Afghan forces in case Kabul was threatened was only half-baked before those Afghan forces collapsed.

然而,在4月决定将9月11日作为美国撤出最后一批部队的日期后,他和他的助手未能足够快速地让翻译员和其他帮助美军的人撤离该国,而是陷入了繁琐的移民手续。没有可靠的机制让承包商确保阿富汗空军在美国人准备撤出时保持运行。拜登在6月下旬谈到的计划是建立他所谓的“超视距能力”支持阿富汗军队,以防喀布尔受到威胁,在这些阿富汗军队崩溃之前,这些计划尚未成熟。

By their own account, Mr. Biden’s aides thought they had the luxury of time, maybe 18 months or so, because of intelligence assessments that wildly overestimated the capabilities of an Afghan Army that disintegrated, often before shots were even fired. On July 8, the same day he said there was no need to worry about an imminent Taliban takeover, Mr. Biden said that “relative to the training and capacity” of the Afghan security forces, the Taliban are “not even close in terms of their capacity.” He now knows that what they lacked in capacity they made up for in strategy, determination and drive.

根据他们自己的说法,拜登的助手认为他们有足够的时间——也许是18个月左右——因为情报评估严重高估了阿富汗军队的实力,它们通常在战斗打响之前就瓦解了。7月8日,他表示无需担心塔利班会很快接管,就在同一天,拜登表示,相对于阿富汗安全部队“受到的训练和实力”,塔利班“在实力上相差甚远”。他现在知道了,他们的战略、决心和动力弥补了实力上的不足。

“There are lessons to be learned on how each administration handled Afghanistan from start to finish, and we owe it to the members of the military and other Americans who put their lives in harm’s way to plumb these lessons to inform future decision making,” said Michèle Flournoy, who served as the No. 3 official in the Pentagon in the Obama administration and was a leading contender to become Mr. Biden’s secretary of defense.

曾在奥巴马政府担任五角大楼第三号人物的米歇尔·弗卢努瓦(Michèle Flournoy)是拜登国防部长职位的有力竞争者,她说:“每届政府对阿富汗问题的处理,从头到尾,都有我们可以吸取教训的地方,我们应该感谢那些舍生忘死的军人和其他美国人,让这些教训为未来的决策提供信息。”

“For the Biden administration the question will be whether enough contingency planning was done to sustain critical counterterrorism operations,” and whether we “meet our obligations to the Afghans who helped us, reduce the risks associated with withdrawal, and enable some continued support to keep the Afghan military viable.”

“拜登政府面对的问题将是,是否已经制定了足够的应急计划来维持关键的反恐行动,”以及我们是否“履行了对帮助我们的阿富汗人的义务,降低了与撤军相关的风险,并提供了一些持续的支持以保持阿富汗军队可以自立。”

Even the most seasoned hands in the politics of South Asia, like Ryan Crocker, a retired career diplomat who served as an ambassador to Afghanistan under President Barack Obama and to Iraq under President George W. Bush, thought there was more time.

即使是南亚政治中最有经验的人,比如退休的职业外交官瑞安·克罗克(Ryan Crocker),也以为还有更多的时间,他曾是奥巴马政府的驻阿富汗大使,乔治·W·布什(George W. Bush)政府的驻伊拉克大使。

“A prolonged civil war is a more likely outcome, frankly,” he said seven days ago on ABC’s “This Week,” “than a swift Taliban takeover of the entire country.” But he went on to say that Mr. Biden had “now taken complete ownership of President Trump’s” commitments to exit the country. “He owns it,” Mr. Crocker said. “And I think it is already an indelible stain on his presidency.”

七天前,他在美国广播公司的《本周》(This Week)节目中说,“坦率地讲,结果更有可能是一场旷日持久的内战,而不是塔利班迅速接管整个国家。”但他接着说,拜登“现在已经完全把特朗普总统提出的”从该国撤军的承诺“变成了他自己的”。“这成了他的责任,”克罗克说。“而且我认为,这已经成为他总统任期内不可磨灭的污点。”

On Sunday, Mr. Biden was publicly silent. The White House released a photograph of him in a video briefing at Camp David. He appeared alone in the photo, his aides beaming in. And it was left to them to explain why he thought, in July, that the Afghan forces would put up a tough fight.

周日,拜登没有任何公开的表示。白宫发布了一张他在戴维营听取视频简报的照片。他独自出现在照片中,听着助手们的远程汇报。他们需要解释为什么7月时他认为阿富汗军队会奋力迎击。

Republicans, including some of those who applauded Mr. Trump when he declared he was getting America out of Afghanistan by Christmas 2020, leapt on the images of Americans being evacuated, and of Ashraf Ghani, the country’s president, fleeing without a succession plan, without a deal with the Taliban about the future of the country and without support.

共和党人——包括特朗普宣布在2020年圣诞节前让美国撤出阿富汗时曾表示赞赏的一些人——迅速就美国人撤离的画面,以及该国总统阿什拉夫·加尼在没有继任计划、没有与塔利班就该国的未来达成协议、且没有支持的情况下逃离的画面作出评论。

“I think it’s an unmitigated disaster,” Representative Michael McCaul of Texas said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, contending that Afghanistan will return to “a pre-9/11 state — a breeding ground for terrorism.” Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken countered that the U.S. ability to detect, track and kill terrorists was far greater than it was two decades ago.

“我认为这是一场彻头彻尾的灾难,”得克萨斯州众议员迈克尔·麦考尔(Michael McCaul)周日在CNN的《国情咨文》(State of the Union)节目中表示,他认为阿富汗将回到“9·11之前的状态——恐怖主义的滋生地”。国务卿安东尼·J·布林肯(Antony J. Blinken)反驳说,美国侦查、追踪和杀死恐怖分子的能力比20年前要强得多。

But Mr. McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, seemed to be trying out themes for the next election season when he said of Mr. Biden: “He could have planned for it. He could have had a strategy for this.”

但作为众议院外交事务委员会的首席共和党人,麦考尔在谈到拜登时似乎是在测试下一个选举季的主题:“他本可以为此做好计划。他本可以为此制定一个策略。”

Now, he said, “there is still no strategy other than race to the airport and evacuate as many people as you can.”

现在,他说,“除了冲向机场并尽可能多地撤离人员之外,仍然没有其他策略。”

In fact, there is a strategy, but not one that Mr. Biden can easily sell amid the images of chaos in Kabul. To his mind, years of refashioning American foreign policy in reaction to the Sept. 11 attacks gave China room to rise, Russia room to disrupt, Iran and North Korea room to focus on their nuclear ambitions. Getting out of Afghanistan is part of a broader effort to refocus on core strategic challenges, and new threats from cyberspace to outer space. But this weekend was evidence that the past is never really in the past.

事实上,倒是有一种战略,但在喀布尔混乱的景象下,拜登很难说服他人。在他看来,作为对9·11恐怖袭击的回应,美国多年来一直在对外交政策进行调整,这让中国有了崛起的空间,让俄罗斯有了搅局的空间,让伊朗和朝鲜有了致力于核野心的空间。从阿富汗撤军是一个更广泛努力的一部分,即重新关注核心的战略挑战,以及从网络空间到外太空的种种新挑战。但这个周末发生的事情表明,过去永远不会真正成为过去。

The administration’s defense against the criticism of its failure to move fast enough in Afghanistan has been to acknowledge it was taken by surprise by the speed of the collapse, but to insist there were plans in place. The Pentagon press secretary, John F. Kirby, said that a rehearsal of the evacuation effort “was held as far back as May,” and that Marines based on Iwo Jima were positioned to fly to Kabul.

针对在阿富汗行动不够迅速的批评,拜登政府所能做的辩解就是,承认它也没有料到阿富汗政府垮台的速度如此之快,但坚称已经有了相应的计划。五角大楼新闻秘书约翰·F·柯比(John F. Kirby)说,撤离行动的演习“早在5月就已经在进行了”,驻扎在硫磺岛的海军陆战队员已准备好飞往喀布尔。

“The reason why we have responded quickly in the past few days is because we were ready for this contingency,” Mr. Kirby said.

“我们之所以在过去几天迅速作出反应,是因为我们已经为这种紧急情况做好了准备,”柯比说。

But Mr. Biden’s own words make clear he was confident this day would not come for a long time, if ever. He repeatedly said he had “no regrets” about his decision, and would bear no responsibility if the Taliban took over, in part because Mr. Trump had signed the deal in February 2020 that set a May 1, 2021, date for complete American withdrawal. (Although Mr. Biden extended the withdrawal date to Sept. 11, almost all American troops were gone by early July.)

但拜登自己的话清楚地表明,他相信这一天即使会来,也不是马上就会来。他反复表示,对自己的决定“不后悔”,如果塔利班接管政权,责任也不是他的,部分原因是特朗普在2020年2月签署了协议,规定美军将于2021年5月1日完全撤离(尽管拜登将撤军日期延长到了9月11日,但美军在7月初几乎已经全部撤离)。

The result of the Trump-Taliban accord, Mr. Biden said Saturday, was that he was left facing a Taliban force “in the strongest position militarily since 2001,” and a date by which all American forces had to be out.

拜登周六表示,特朗普与塔利班协议的结果是,他所面对的塔利班部队“在军事上处于2001年以来最强大的地位”,以及一个所有美军必须撤离的日期。

Mr. Blinken stepped around questions on Sunday about why more was not done earlier to get Afghan interpreters for the U.S. military and other allies at risk of Taliban retaliation out of the country. He was also asked why more Americans were not moved earlier out of the embassy in Kabul, as many at the Pentagon had urged, before the scale of the collapse became apparent.

周日,布林肯回避了有关为何不早些安排好那些为美军和其他盟友担任翻译工作的阿富汗人离开的问题。他还被问到,为什么没有像五角大楼的许多人敦促的那样,在局势崩溃变得明显之前,让更多的美国人早一些离开喀布尔的美国大使馆。

“The inability of Afghan security forces to defend their country has played a very powerful role,” Mr. Blinken said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

布林肯周日在NBC的《会见媒体》(Meet The Press)节目中说,“阿富汗安全部队无力保卫自己的国家,这是一个非常重要的因素。”

All true. But it is Mr. Biden who may be remembered for his role in wildly overestimating the strength of the Afghan forces, and not moving fast enough when it became clear the scenarios he had been presented with were wrong.

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