Scathing criticisms of Joe Biden’s disastrous cut-and-run in Afghanistan have been issued by even his media cheerleaders at CNN, NPR and the New York Times. Career diplomats including former Obama officials have publicly excoriated his administration for incompetence. Foreign leaders are baffled.
Only the Taliban is happy.
A withdrawal from Afghanistan may have been necessary, but it didn’t have to happen this way. Only 2,500 soldiers were there anyway – about the same as in Iraq. As in Iraq, this small number kept relative peace. The last American soldier killed in Afghanistan was a year and a half ago. That’s one more dead soldier than I’d like, but it’s a violent world and soldiers keeping the peace have a dangerous job.
Biden assured us just a month ago that this wouldn’t happen. He said the Afghan soldiers far outnumbered the Taliban, and there would be no “Saigon” moment where American embassy staff are helicoptered from the roof of the embassy as the barbarians bang down the gate.
But here we are, only a month later, and that’s roughly what is happening. It’s in part because Biden discontinued nearly all the air support that was key to the Afghan government’s military. The Taliban now own the entire country, and are threatening even the chaotic Kabul airport where Afghans are clinging to the outside of airplanes trying to take off. Hundreds or perhaps thousands of Americans may be trapped.
For millions of Afghans, the future is bleak. When the Taliban was last in power, they prohibited girls from attending school. In soccer stadium spectacles, they stoned women and burned them to death.
Biden is left begging the Taliban for mercy and warning them that untoward acts will earn them the tsk-tsk of the “international community.” As if these guys right out of the 11th century worry about whether they’ll be invited to Davos for the next climate summit.
How did Biden stumble so badly?
Let’s assume that Biden, his generals and his intel services simply got it wrong about how fast the Taliban would take over the country. Let’s say they thought it would take years or at least months, rather than a week or two. Maybe they forgot how important U.S. air support was.
OK, but how did they not see that their initial assessment was wrong as events unfolded over the last two weeks? How did they not see that the Taliban were storming ahead and would be overrunning Kabul within days? Do they not have access to satellite and spy plane images? Did they know less than CNN about the Taliban advance? Why did they wait till almost literally the last minute to evacuate non-military personnel?
These questions are being asked throughout the world. But they are not being asked of Biden himself, because Biden himself is off on vacation and not taking questions. His chief press secretary is doing the same.
Biden is known around the White House for knocking off at about 2:30 in the afternoon, but he still needed a vacation. And so he took one.
The Taliban did not.
This American president is seriously ill. He’s not there mentally or, now, even physically. The world knows it. These are very dangerous times.
Update: The president today flew back to the White House and delivered a short speech about the unfolding crisis. But none of the obvious questions were asked of him, because he refused to take questions. Then he went back to his vacation.