Joe Biden's catastrophic judgment

Published date22 August 2021
Publication titleIsrael National News (Israel)
As Taliban forces seized control of one Afghan province after another, and everyone who was paying attention recognized that the capital would soon follow, Biden went on a two-week vacation.

The footage of the Taliban takeover of Kabul stunned the American public. The scenes of dozens of Afghans hanging off a U.S. military C-17 already wheeling down the runway at the Kabul airport, hoping desperately to be let inside, or of people being taken out of their homes and shot by Taliban gunmen, provoked a bipartisan outcry against Biden and his withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan. So Monday, Biden took a break from his vacation.

He flew to the White House. He gave a speech. And he flew back to his vacation.

Biden spoke with undisguised irritation. He blamed his predecessor, Donald Trump, for signing a deal with the Taliban to remove the residual U.S. forces from the country. He blamed the Afghan military and government, which collapsed after the U.S. retreat. And he blamed U.S. intelligence agencies, which he said had not anticipated the Taliban's swift takeover.

And he praised himself for having the gumption to remove U.S. forces from the country.

Biden bragged, "I've argued for many years that our mission [in Afghanistan] should be narrowly focused on counter terrorism, not counterinsurgency or nation building. That's why I opposed the surge when it was proposed in 2009 when I was vice-president. And that's why as president I'm adamant we focus on the threats we face today in 2021, not yesterday's threats."

Cursory fact checks expose Biden's disingenuousness. The parties he blamed were not responsible for the catastrophic blow the events in Afghanistan dealt to US credibility. And his decision to remove U.S. forces from the country did not make the United States safer or better placed to "focus on the threats we face today in 2021."

Biden's accusation that the Trump administration was responsible for the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan is wrong on several counts. As former President Trump and his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, explained last Sunday and Monday, the agreement Trump reached with the Taliban was conditions-based. Since the Taliban breached the conditions, there is little reason to believe that Trump would have implemented the troop pullout.

Moreover, Trump intended to evacuate civilians—both U.S. citizens and Afghan nationals who worked with the Americans along with their families—before pulling out U.S. military forces.

In the last two...

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