President Joe Biden continues to live in an alternate universe in regard to the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan. As someone put it on Twitter, his message is: “The mission was a complete success” and “it’s all my predecessor’s fault.”
An angrier, more defensive Biden spoke publicly Tuesday to mark an end to the evacuation mission — and to the 20-year war in Afghanistan.
As he noted, the airlift was a tremendous feat, given the chaos surrounding the exit — a condition for which Biden bears much of the blame.
But boasting about the success of the mission was unseemly given at least 250 American citizens were left behind to face an uncertain fate. Many more thousands of Afghans who assisted our mission were also abandoned, and are now being tracked down and killed by the country’s new Taliban rulers.
Biden Tuesday continued to conflate the decision to leave Afghanistan, which was widely supported, with how he carried out the leaving.
Certainly, American support for the U.S. presence in Afghanistan had waned, though many experts say a small force was necessary to serve intelligence and counter-terrorism purposes.
The issue Biden is skirting is the bungling of the withdrawal. He claimed Tuesday there was unanimous support for the plan among his military and security advisers, even though reports of vigorous dissent continue to emerge from the Pentagon and intelligence community.
Biden spoke of those Americans remaining in Afghanistan as if they were volunteers, saying he would get them out “if they choose” to leave.
Most wanted out, but couldn’t get to evacuation zones and are now in hiding. The president’s faith in the Taliban to help collect them and get them safely back home is pollyannish.
Nothing in Biden’s remarks should assure the families of those Americans left behind that their loved ones will be safely returned. After all, Biden promised not to end the withdrawal until everyone of them was out, a vow he didn’t keep.
While saying he accepts full responsibility, Biden disingenuously claimed his options were limited by the withdrawal deal made by former President Donald Trump. While the decision to leave was made by Trump, the execution belonged to Biden.
It was Biden’s decision, not Trump’s, to ask just 6,000 U.S. troops to carry out the evacuation while facing tens of thousands of hostile Taliban fighters. It was also his call to close the Bagram Air Base, which could have served as a second evacuation site, before the airlift began.
Biden said America’s vital interest in Afghanistan is to assure it “can never again be used for an attack on our homeland.”
How does he propose to guarantee that, with the Taliban in control and now armed with the weapons we left behind, and without American eyes and ears in the country?
The departure from Afghanistan was a total failure, whether or not Biden accepts that reality, and sets up the Taliban for future attacks on American interests.
Accountability is demanded. Congress must investigate to determine exactly what went wrong, and who is responsible for the decisions.
Biden had help in making this mess. Top lieutenants such as Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin should be required to explain their roles as well.
This national humiliation should not be allowed to give way to the next crisis dominating the news cycle until it is fully answered for.
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