No Aspect of Biden's Afghanistan Fiasco Was Handled With Competence

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With every press conference from each department, we see nothing but ineptitude.

This week has seen a completely bungled extraction effort in Afghanistan turn from being a fiasco to a tragedy. The suicide bombing has galvanized the country into seeing this as far more than a mishandled mission but instead as an enterprise being executed with abject incompetence. It is not with ease that I say this about the country’s leadership, but the perpetual presentation of evidence affirming this reality defies being ignored. 

As an example, there is one side-story that is at once innocuous and revelatory. Last Thursday, Andrew Bates, the Deputy Press Secretary, sent out this message a short time ahead of the suicide bombing that rocked the airport in Kabul.

After it was pointed out how tone-deaf it appeared that he would be focused on scoring some political points, Andy returned with snark, excusing himself away by saying, “Learn about time stamps.” Some might be tempted to dismiss this as a case of poor timing. Yes, he did tweet this just prior to the explosion in Afghanistan, and — after all — how was Bates supposed to know this might transpire? Well, maybe by either paying attention, or by the White House having a clear sense of messaging between the offices.

Ahead of the bombing, it was reported that there were clear warnings that an attack of some nature was probable, and this points to just a couple of major issues. One, Bates and his department should have been briefed and focused on other serious matters beyond making political jabs at the Florida governor. The second point exposes just some of the logistical problems on display; this intel, now blatantly credible, was found by British intelligence, not our own. It serves as just another example of how ineffective our forces are in this quagmire scenario. 

The plan of this mission, its execution, and the management of the evolving challenges and problems have all been handled in the wrong manner with unerring consistency. The press conferences dealing with the recidivist miscues have only prolonged the misery. It has been with remarkable uniformity that every department — State, Pentagon, White House — has delivered unsettling commentary.

Biden has been inept. It is beyond argument at this point. But like the example seen from the White House press office, this ineptitude has been sweeping.

The Pentagon has also been a regular source of dismaying plotting. Gen. Mark Milley declared his own issues in stating he was completely taken by surprise how quickly the Taliban overran the country.

Meanwhile, the State Department has been incapable of declaring they will evacuate all Americans. Our military has been asking the Taliban for permission to travel safely, all while the terror organization has said they have declared the August 31 deadline to be enforced.

Instead of the military marching up and establishing control, we have seen them all but apologize to the outfit. Then we saw the departure of the Afghan president, leading to mass confusion, as the breakdown of security in Kabul allowed for the Taliban to move into the vacuum — with our permission. The Washington Post reports that as we planned to withdraw a negotiation took place with the Taliban leadership over who would control the airport security.

In a hastily arranged in-person meeting, senior U.S. military leaders in Doha — including [Marine Gen. Kenneth “Frank”] McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command — spoke with Abdul Ghani Baradar, head of the Taliban’s political wing. “We have a problem,” Baradar said, according to the U.S. official. “We have two options to deal with it: You [the United States military] take responsibility for securing Kabul or you have to allow us to do it.”

This is an astounding reality. We were speaking with the Taliban — the terrorist enemy — and they were going to cede control of the region to our military. More astounding still is not only did we not take control, but why.

Throughout the day, Biden had remained resolute in his decision to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan. The collapse of the Afghan government hadn’t changed his mind. On the spot, an understanding was reached, according to two other U.S. officials: The United States could have the airport until Aug. 31. But the Taliban would control the city.

This ties in with the sheer abandonment of Bagram airfield. To this day there is finger-pointing between the military leadership and Biden as to who is responsible, but by now it does not matter. The entire staff pulled out, the Afghan authorities were barely notified, and now fleets of Humvees, an airport full of aircraft, and untold amounts of weaponry are in Taliban hands. This is because Biden gave the either/or order of operating Bagram or the embassy. And it is all based on the command of honoring the September 11 deadline. 

As a result, we have no means to get all Americans safely out by then, and our Afghan allies are left out to dry. The military was pulled out ahead of our citizens, our entire arsenal was abandoned, and a fatal fiasco has been the result — all for a completely arbitrary deadline. That hard order to clear out by 9/11 is being done for one solitary reason; Biden wanted it for political symbolism. It can be rescinded, and should be for the sake of preserving the lives of our people. 

We have lost lives. We now have more troops on-site than before the order to vacate. We have every agency involved in this mission displaying rash incompetence. All being done for a symbolic deadline date. This is now Biden’s symbol. A symbol of consummate failure.