The Generals Can Blame Joe Biden for Today's Afghanistan Debacle, They Can't Blame the Last Twenty Years of Lies and Incompetence on Him

The Generals Can Blame Joe Biden for Today's Afghanistan Debacle, They Can't Blame the Last Twenty Years of Lies and Incompetence on Him
AP Photo/Jafar Khan

I’d like to say I was a little shocked when I read this story by my colleague Mike Miller: Biden Ordered Afghanistan Withdrawal Against Warnings From Top Generals: Report.

The gist of the story is that senior military leaders, including General Mark “Stand Back, I Have White Rage” Milley, told Biden they needed to modify the withdrawal plan Biden had already modified:

Gen. Frank McKenzie, the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East; Gen. Austin Scott Miller, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan; and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Citing the risks of removing American forces to Afghan security and the U.S. Embassy, they recommended that the U.S. keep 2,500 troops in Afghanistan while stepping up diplomacy to try to cement a peace agreement.

If you read that carefully, you could be excused for coming away with the illusion that Biden received advice that would have made a difference to where we are today. It wouldn’t have. And I’m not shocked because this kind of blame-shifting and failure to accept responsibility has become something of a hallmark of the nation’s senior military leadership.

The rot was already present in a very brittle Afghan Army that could fight well but often chose not to. The Afghan Army, rightfully, didn’t trust a deeply corrupt and unpopular government. Central Asian countries saw the writing on the wall and made it more difficult for the contractors needed to support or Afghan adventure to get there. Our allies were mostly gone. Everyone was looking for the exits. And our Defense brain trust recommended 2,500 more troops and mo’ better diplomacy.

What you see is our military leaders, the people who planned, directed, and managed the US military campaigns in Afghanistan over the past twenty years…pause and think about that for a moment, twenty years, there are numerous instances of fathers and sons fighting in the same war…now claiming that Biden is to blame and if he’d only listen to the same failed counsel that Bush and Obama and Trump had listened to, well things would’ve been different.

I predict that we will be hearing the same stuff from the intelligence community as they try to erase stories like this one from three days ago from the public’s memory: Taliban could take Afghan capital within 90 days after rapid gains -U.S. intelligence.

This is shameful. The fact that the commander-in-chief didn’t do what you requested doesn’t relieve you of responsibility for an unmitigated, world-class military disaster like that unfolding in Afghanistan. I’m not talking about the Afghan Army cutting and running for the Iranian border. I’m talking about the lack of strategic imagination that prevented the US military from allowing this to happen:

A couple of months ago, James Jay Carafano wrote a short essay on the subject of the failures of our military leadership for the Washington Times:

Perhaps, the armed forces busy with their day jobs of over a decade of heightened military operations and prolonged combat didn’t have the time or space to think deeply about the future or how America was changing around them.

Perhaps, in not robustly educating military leaders on economics, politics and culture, their intellectual arsenal is empty.

Maybe the military relied too much on advanced civilian education that was heavily weighted to leftist politics.

Or maybe we have become too lax about holding military and political leaders accountable when they start meddling too much in the operational side of the other’s affairs.

It is time to talk about why our military can’t deal with politicians who play politics with the military, or why some military officers have become partisan political actors while in uniform (a phenomenon of the Trump administration as well as Biden’s).

Most importantly, we need to start talking about how we fix this before it really gets out of hand.

One answer, of course, is to stop electing politicians who play politics with the military.

But we also need to educate military leaders on how to properly serve both elected civilian leaders and the oath they took when they put on a uniform — and to serve both equally well no matter how difficult that might be.

While people in uniform are always required to follow lawful orders, they are not there just to say “yes” to every politician. Nor should an officer remain silent, failing to stand for the right thing, because it might endanger their career or advancement.

Military leaders are there to provide for the common defense no matter how outrageous or out-of-kilter domestic politics gets. Sometimes that can be as challenging as fighting a war. It’s every bit as important. Because you can’t fight or deter a war with a military that can’t fight.

I can add another category. Perhaps our military is not led by steely-eyed warrior monks but by a spoiled, petulant class of divas skilled in evading responsibility and navigating a byzantine bureaucracy but grossly incompetent in what we hired them to do?

We were failed by 20 years worth of general officers. There needs to be an accounting. No matter what dumbf*** calls Joe Biden made, the military had an obligation to anticipate, do better, and not blame Biden for them screwing the pooch as they did in the past 72 hours.


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