The Optics of Walking Away

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

In Afghanistan, President Biden has delivered the United States one of its greatest foreign policy disasters since Benghazi.  After President Trump had offered to negotiate a withdrawal from Afghanistan with the Taliban, Joe Biden upped the ante by ordering a total withdrawal from the country without as much as a single condition for the Taliban, including a means by which the United States could maintain an embassy in their country.  After several days of deafening silence from the Biden White House, the President returned from vacation for a few minutes to address the nation.

Biden’s speech was everything you could have expected from Biden: The speech was filled with various finger-pointing at Trump, at the military, at the Afghan people, despite it ending ironically with a Truman-Esque “the buck stops here.”  But yet, the symbolism that truly showed through at that presser was when Biden had to then turn his back on the cameras and walk away.  Worse than that, he then walked outside to Marine One to head back on vacation.

He didn’t take any questions.  He didn’t act like a person who is in charge.  He acted like he was checking a box.  “Well, I addressed the country.  Can I go back on vacation now?”  In fact, Biden created more questions than answered them.  Remember, just a few weeks ago, Biden said Afghanistan was not going to become a new Vietnam, and any withdrawal would not lead to Taliban control on the country.

Biden didn’t only prove himself to be a fool on the matter just a few weeks later but reiterated during his speech that he had “no regrets” on his withdrawal plan.  This is perhaps the most egregious thing said by Biden during the whole presser.

The President of the United States, in an address that will be played on replay around the world, said in no uncertain terms that despite his direct action leading to a terrorist organization taking rule of a country, he had no regrets.  We all know what the future of Afghanistan holds.  It isn’t like the Taliban hasn’t already shown their vision for Afghanistan.  It isn’t like the same people haven’t tried to assassinate women’s rights leaders or those who have assisted the American forces during the Afghan War.  We already know what they plan to do to the country that we have spent 20 years, 2 trillion dollars, and thousands of American lives to create and Joe Biden was willing to throw all that out.  Worse yet, even with the benefit of hindsight, he has no regret.

Yet, despite these huge errors in judgment, Mr. “The Buck Stops Here” didn’t stick around after his presser to accept questions.  The press, which has become increasingly critical of Biden’s handling on the matter, wasn’t allowed to ask the President a single question regarding the largest foreign policy embarrassment since Saigon.  Instead of facing tough questions and instead of facing a few uncomfortable minutes of being held accountable, Biden turned his back and walked away.

He turned his back on the military.  He turned his back on the Embassy officials still on the ground.  He turned his back on our allies who are still in the country.  He turned his back on the Afghan people.  He turned his back on the Gold Star Families, wounded veterans, and others who were lucky enough to return home.  He turned his back on the local interpreters who saved countless American lives.  It isn’t like the President doesn’t see the same images we see or isn’t terrified by the same video we are seeing.  In fact, he probably has access to even more footage and data.  Not so much as a plan, a promise, or a guarantee.  Despite all these horrible results of his failure to plan, he has no regrets.

The only thing that I can hope for is that enough of the people who voted for him do.  Let’s hope they turn his back on him, too.