Various leftist mouthpieces are suggesting that the Joe Biden’s disastrous Afghanistan pullout is the failure of a withdrawal plan conceived and strategized by former President Donald Trump. HBO Real Time host Bill Maher led with it on last Friday’s monologue, so you know it’s part of the approved narrative. Nothing could be further from the truth, and the promulgators of this fiction know it. This is Biden’s debacle and everybody knows it.
To analyze how things would have been different under Mr. Trump, a good starting point is the phone call then-President Trump made to Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. (Note: This analysis assumes that Trump intended to break clean, and not leave any residual force in the war-torn country.)
On the call, Trump made clear that should the Taliban launch any aggressions during what was to be a carefully planned and militarily sound pullout, Baradar’s village, his family, and Baradar himself, would be the initial target of any U.S. response.
Think of it, as Trump might say. This Taliban leader, licking his chops in anticipation of America’s withdrawal, must have paused to consider the high potential of his family being atomized by a drone or fighter jet strike before the ink had dried on the news of any pre-pullout Taliban incursions. If the hated Western invaders were soon leaving, why waste himself? He knew Trump would pull the trigger, and perhaps was not that eager to die for his cause.
From there we extrapolate what an actual military withdrawal under Commander-in-Chief Trump would have looked like. First off, the word would have been disseminated far and wide many months before any spurious deadline: We are going, and now is the time, if you want to leave, to make arrangements for departure while we still have the military wherewithal to cover your backs. Imagine Hamid Karzai International Airport under the protection of a fully operational U.S. fighting force both in the air and on the ground. Yes, there would have been an exodus, of U.S. citizens and of Afghans who worked in concert with our mission. True, lives might still have been lost in the neighborhoods and on the way to the airport. But once people were in proximity to the salvation of an airlift, theoretically the situation would have been orderly under the umbrella of U.S. armed forces. Thankfully, many did get out, and credit where credit is due to the people who got them out. But how many more might have gotten out and/or been spared the horrors of an airport whose time was running out? How much less perilous would have been the evacuations had a Trump-directed pull-out defense force been deployed?
How many more souls who are now trapped behind enemy lines would have gotten out?
Once every person with the good sense to heed Trump’s early calls to get out and the luck to succeed in getting out was accounted for, the ranks of our servicemen and women could have been methodically and safely withdrawn under the same umbrella. But before they got safe passage out of the inevitable whirlwind, the matter of the billions of dollars worth of equipment and weaponry would have been dealt with in what would have been the one of the largest airlifts of military hardware in history. Blackhawks, Humvees, explosives, firearms of every description, ammunition of every caliber. The list goes on to include commonplace but important items like tens of thousands of bottles of water. While not everything could have been saved, a Trump-orchestrated end to the war would have gone down with massive cargo planes filled with equipment lifting off the Bagram Airfield runway, prevented from falling into the Taliban’s hands.
AP reports that heavy weapons were taken from Bagram as troops pulled out, and that a lot of ammunition that “was not being left for the Afghan military” (?) was destroyed. Still, an unconscionable amount of America’s war-making materiel was left behind. With Trump running the show, terrorists overrunning the abandoned base would have been lucky to find a few cases of MREs.
In The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, author William Shirer detailed how Adolf Hitler ordered the fallback destruction of infrastructure—and virtually everything else, including human life—as the Nazis withdrew from Russia after the catastrophic failure of Operation Barbarossa. It is sheer conjecture to suggest that Trump would have ordered his forces to destroy everything that could not be evacuated and that could have been of any possible use to a reinvigorated Taliban army: Bagram landing strips rendered unusable by bomb craters, fueling facilities blown to smithereens, hangars and other military-purposed buildings reduced to rubble.
Under this speculative Trump plan, we can imagine a rabid Taliban entering Kabul to find most American citizens, most U.S.-aligned Afghans, and most U.S. equipment gone, and our ill-fated military infrastructure entirely worthless.
Obviously, a master withdrawal like this would result in casualties. Even in the presence of a strong fighting force left in Kabul in what amounts to a rearguard action, there would doubtless have been Taliban attacks occurring during the pullout. But we must ask ourselves, how emboldened would they be to waste themselves against our men and women in uniform, our Warthogs, our F-16s?
The Taliban leader wanted no part of a Trumpian withdrawal. Until the weak Biden and his incompetent military advisors came to power, he was content to wait it out.