Look, very few Americans want Americans to keep fighting in Afghanistan. Twenty years – 19 of them mission creep — is more than enough time to do it, if you can. But there’s withdrawing, and then there is fleeing.
The American president is fleeing. Like every president, Joe Biden has numerous problems, such as here and here. Many, in fact, are of his own making. Like withdrawing during the peak Afghan fighting season, instead of waiting for winter.
With Afghanistan well on the way to falling quickly to the Taliban and a record number of illegals breaching our southern border, Joe Biden has gone on vacation. Literally. The pressures and reality of the presidency are indeed terrible, even if you’re not 28,750 days old. But then as I recall, Joe Biden volunteered for the commander-in-chief job.
The optics are also awful, at home and abroad, and they cement the depressing impression that the Biden Administration is really a weak, apologetic 2.0 version of the Barack Obama Administration. Will this tempt bad actors to take advantage of his/our apparent weakness?
Remember when ISIS beheaded the first American hostage, James Foley, rest his soul. That shocking video was seven years ago this week. Obama was vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard. He did a quick photo-op promising swift justice, then hit the links with buddies. A good time was had by all.
Come to think of it, Obama pulled the same stunt even before the Benghazi bodies were cold. After mysteriously disappearing overnight, the commander-in-chief did a quick photo-op promising swift justice, then flew off for not one, but two campaign fundraisers in Vegas.
Thursday, as some 5,000 troops hastily mobilized to guard an embassy evacuation in Kabul, Biden, ever the good pupil, did a quick event before helicoptering off to Delaware, where — conveniently — there’s no official log of his visitors, and then to Camp David for more vacation.
He took no questions because, well, Lord knows how he would screw that up with some made-up story about the time he and Hillary Clinton came under sniper fire together in Bosnia back in the day.
Fictitious yarns and screw-ups have become a familiar theme in these 29 months since Biden’s inauguration. I know, I know it’s 29 weeks, just seems like months.
Last spring, Biden announced that he would complete the final U.S. troop withdrawal that Donald Trump began, the last 2,500 service personnel from the more than 100,000 sent there during the Obama-Biden years — when fighting the Taliban was the good war (as opposed to the Iraq conflict).
Biden set the final, Afghan fly-away date as Sept. 11, an inauspicious date to mark the end of the conflict that began on the first 9/11 back in 2001. Someone may have reminded him of that, because Biden later changed it to Aug. 31. Everyone is already gone anyway, save for 650 embassy guards.
So, here’s the newest Biden screw-up: Trump set the final withdrawal for April, before the summer fighting season began. But, Biden must change most everything Trump did. So, he postponed the pullout of the last 2,500 troops into the fighting season, when the Taliban would be fully on the march. Now, Biden’s sending in 5,000 new ones to cover the disaster.
The president had expressed confidence that the Afghan military, after years of training by dedicated U.S. and allied personnel, was fully capable of holding off the Taliban.
A Taliban victory, Biden opined, “is not inevitable.” But that was last month. Now, it seems inevitable.
Speaking of the embassy in Kabul, the N. Y. Times reports that despite his professed confidence over Afghans’ military capabilities, the current president of the United States has sent a polite back-channel request to the Taliban to please take it easy when its forces capture Kabul and don’t damage our embassy too badly.
That is so that Biden administration folks, who’ve been voicing full support for the elected Afghan government, can return quickly and facilitate aid to the new unelected government headed by the Taliban that we just spent two decades fighting.
Let that sink in. American Special Operators and British SAS commandos entered Afghanistan in October 2011 to oust the fundamentalist Taliban government that hosted al-Qaeda’s planning and rehearsals for 9/11. And now Biden is begging the ultimate, presumptive victors to go easy on the U.S. Embassy there.
Reminds me of the list Biden gave Vladimir Putin at their Geneva summit this summer. Biden’s list contained 16 U.S. institutions that the American president was requesting Russia not target for cyber-attacks.
Biden and I are about the same age. But, they must have dealt with bullies differently during his early days in Pennsylvania than mine in Ohio. It does explain why the former vice president was the only senior Obama adviser to oppose the Seal Team 6 raid that disposed of Osama bin Laden.
We described the detailed history of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan here earlier this summer. Suffice it to say here, the initial stages were an understandable reaction to the horrific, 9/11 attacks. They were based in revenge, an effort to catch the perpetrators who hadn’t vaporized themselves in airplane explosions and clear that land out of their fundamentalist hosts, who were terrorizing Afghans and routinely executing women for hajib infractions.
And the Western invaders were quite successful, creating hope, better rural health care, and a generation of schooling for many young girls, among other advances.
But about a year later, as the fractured mess that has always been that misbegotten land became clearer, the U.S.-led NATO mission crept into nation-building in a tribal land that has defied conquerors for more than 23 centuries, including Alexander the Great, the British and Soviets, who gave up in 1989 after 14 years.
As occurred during U.S. involvement in Vietnam, American officials who must face voters every few years showed a political will and patience dwarfed by ruthless insurgents who honor no agreement, rule by gun, and care nothing for the deaths of thousands of followers and others.
From the start on Oct 11, 2001 until today, 3,595 troops, including 2,452 Americans, have perished there, and upwards of $1 trillion have been spent on military and reconstruction operations. That used to seem like a vast sum until this crew of Biden Democrats and its congressional cronies began throwing trillions at favored domestic causes.
Fortunately, Biden has so far refused to publicly contemplate any return to U.S. military involvement there, even when some raise the reasonable specter of China and Russia moving their influence in.
As happened in Vietnam, the U.S. departure melted any morale or commitment in native troops. And province after province has been falling to the Taliban, most recently Herat, Kandahar, and Mazar-e-Sharif — the country’s second-, third-, and fourth-most populous cities, respectively.
Afghanistan will likely fall, or even gallop into another civil war. Regional warlords have been rearming and preparing for this in recent years. So, the Taliban may have its own hands full, too, controlling the nearly Texas-sized area, with a population close to California’s 39 million.
Washington media quote unidentified intelligence officials these days as being surprised at the rapidity of the Taliban’s advances. Many of them are dedicated professionals who do the necessary, often dirty work of intelligence. And they did track down Bin Laden.
But remember, too, these are some of the same unidentified folks who assured us Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Iraq is where 4,910 Western troops died, 4,586 of them Americans.
History has a way of teaching uncomfortable, even painful truths. If our woke schools do not abandon the teaching of honest history, future leaders hopefully will draw many lessons from these national adventures.
Prime among them should be the lesson that as exciting, initially attractive, and politically profitable as these optional directions can appear, they all come with unforeseen complications and incalculable costs.
Remember 2011, when Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama sent U.S. forces to help topple Libyan strongman Moammar Gaddafi. Obama thought that made the world a better place. Libya, however, became a lawless state where numerous groups train to spread terror in Africa.
Only one recent political leader had the ability to see the dangers in optional military expeditions abroad. He said the United States should get out of such endless wars. And in fact, he was the only modern commander-in-chief who did not take the nation into a new military adventure.
You may not like Donald Trump for other reasons. But he deserves considerable credit for that alone.