One year after Afghan war, Biden struggles to find footing

FILE - Taliban fighters stand guard in front of the Hamid Karzai International Airport after the U.S. withdrawal in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 31, 2021. The nearly 12 months since the chaotic end to the U.S. war in Afghanistan haven't been easy for Joe Biden. In the summer of 2021, the American electorate largely approved of the new president's performance. (AP Photo/Khwaja Tawfiq Sediqi, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) - The 12 months since the chaotic end to the U.S. war in Afghanistan haven't been easy for Joe Biden.

The new president was flying high early in the summer of 2021, the American electorate largely approving of Biden's performance and giving him high marks for his handling of the economy and the coronavirus pandemic.

But come August, the messy U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan seemed to mark the start of things going sideways for him.

It was a disquieting bookend to the 20-year American war: the U.S.-backed Afghan government collapsed, a grisly bombing killed 13 U.S. troops and 170 others, and thousands of desperate Afghans descended on Kabul's airport in search of a way out before the final U.S. cargo planes departed over the Hindu Kush.

The disastrous drawdown was, at the time, the biggest crisis that the relatively new administration had faced.