It takes an incredible level of hubris and incompetence to believe, as President Joe Biden did, that Americans will cheer his defeatism on the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. But that’s where we are.
Biden chose decline, defeat, and the betrayal of allies as his policy of choice. The fallout is far from certain, and the after-effects will last for decades. It didn’t have to be this way, but Biden chose this path.
During the Obama administration years, it was well accepted that then-Vice President Joe Biden was a liability on all things foreign policy-related.
In his memoir of the era, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said of Biden, “I think he’s been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” When asked about that statement again during the 2020 campaign, Gates stood by that line.
As Politico reported, President Barack Obama allegedly told a Democratic associate, “Don’t underestimate Joe’s ability to f*** things up.”
That is precisely what Joe Biden has done in Afghanistan. And along the way, he’s betrayed America’s allies and left American troops in the lurch trying to conduct impossible evacuation timelines. This disaster is the fault of one person: Joe Biden.
Just one month ago, Biden promised that the Afghan military was ready, supported, and the US withdrawal would be orderly. One month ago, Secretary of State Antony Blinken was telling everyone, “We are not withdrawing, we are staying, the embassy is staying, our programs are staying … If there is a significant deterioration in security … I don’t think it’s going to be something that happens from a Friday to a Monday.”
And today, the Taliban and al-Qaida are back in charge of Afghanistan, and the U.S. Embassy was evacuated with the Taliban overrunning it. The U.S. is endangering the lives of countless thousands who aided the U.S. missions for decades and now face the wrath of terrorists.
The United States has, as Noah Rothman so succinctly put it, been reduced to “begging this medieval insurgent group to spare us the worst of their retribution.” In the process, Joe Biden has had to send more troops over to manage the evacuation than we even had there before his disastrous withdrawal.
But wait, there’s more!
Even if you agree with Biden on withdrawing entirely from Afghanistan and not even running operations to destroy terrorist encampments, there’s the issue of America’s allies. In foreign policy, usually, when you discuss partners, you mean other countries.
There’s a concern there, for sure, with many countries now doubting America’s commitment to them or in defense of anything, as The Washington Post noted.
In Afghanistan, allies mean something more specific: the Afghanis who helped us in the war and our limited operations. George Packer, one of the preeminent war correspondents, writes for The Atlantic that Biden’s abandonment of these allies is a shame that will live in infamy. Biden’s administration has refused to speed up the process to approve special visas to people who have directly aided American troops.
Representative Jason Crow (D-CO) is a former U.S. Army Ranger and described receiving personal messages from people he knew in Afghanistan. Some of those people, living in fear of the Taliban now, have formed suicide pacts to avoid living under the tyrannical rule of these terrorists.
There is no rational reason to betray the allies of America who have helped us hunt down and kill terrorists. Some of these people have helped our troops as interpreters, spies, and more. We could not have functioned as well as we did without their help, and now they face imminent threats because Biden cannot be moved to get rid of the red tape that prevents them from fleeing certain death.
It is one thing to withdraw from the war. It’s another thing to abandon everything, let your enemy return to power, and let them take over your military supplies.
None of this had to happen.
Like the COVID-19 pandemic, Biden was gifted an ideal situation. Biden had Operation Warp Speed operating at a high level with vaccinations flowing out the door with the pandemic. He squandered that, and we’re struggling now with a variant.
With Afghanistan, Biden was given a situation where he didn’t have to do anything, as John Podhoretz points out:
All Joe Biden had to do was nothing. Had Joe Biden done nothing, Afghanistan would not have fallen to the Taliban today. Had he just let the status quo continue, the status quo would have continued. Afghanistan would have plodded along and we would have kept the Taliban from power with a small force of American military personnel among whose ranks there had not been a single fatality since March 2020—17 months without a death.
The solutions to Afghanistan may have been difficult to find, but Biden wasn’t forced into doing anything. Biden chose this moment, he chose this pullback, and the calamities that followed are on him.
Decline is a choice. In Afghanistan, defeat was also a choice. We were not defeated in Afghanistan when Joe Biden took office. Biden chose defeat, he chose disgrace, and he chose to do all this, specifically, in time for the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001.