Last Thursday, Aug. 26, at 6:00 p.m. in Kabul, a suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest as American troops at Abbey Gate were processing entrants to Hamid Karzai International Airport. Nearly 200 people died at that horrific moment, including 13 U.S. service members.
It was a horrific massacre that didn’t need to happen.
There is only one person to blame, and that is President Joe Biden — not for his decision to leave Afghanistan, but instead for his stubborn insistence on leaving the country on a specific date. It is a stubbornness rooted in negligence, not incompetence, a word often thrown around as reasoning for his failure at this moment.
In the days since Kabul fell, we have learned through reporting that the U.S. has depended on the Taliban for security screening outside the airport since mid-August, purposely choosing to rely on foes that killed Americans for decades to screen jihadists determined to kill Americans.
We have also learned through reporting by Politico that U.S. officials gave the Taliban a list of names of American citizens, green card holders, and Afghan allies to grant entry into the outer perimeter of the Kabul airport — giving their information to the very entity that has viciously murdered any Afghan who has joined up with the U.S. and other coalition forces during the 20-year war.
And those hundreds of students, their relatives and staff of the American University of Afghanistan who had boarded buses on Sunday to evacuate on U.S. military flights were told after seven hours of sitting on the bus that all evacuations were permanently called off; The New York Times reported that because of Biden’s mandatory deadline, the military will now only be bringing its own personnel home. But a list of their names and their passport information has been shared by the U.S. military with the Taliban fighters guarding the airport checkpoints.
Biden’s negligence on Afghanistan is not a singular event but a pattern of behavior. He has been negligent in his dismissal of the crisis at the border. The dramatic surge in illegal U.S. southern border crossings — last month alone there were nearly 200,000 — is a humanitarian crisis that has endangered lives and communities, increased human and drug trafficking 100-fold and turned the lives of people who live along the border upside down.
Incompetence denotes that Biden has no idea what he is doing. And yes, he certainly seems unsteady in numerous settings. But he has shown stubborn purpose in making the withdrawal from Afghanistan, whatever the circumstances. He has been equally purposeful in showing no responsibility for conditions at the border. That is negligence.
Biden’s fragility as the leader of our country is illustrated by the frequency of his negligence and the ease with which he and his administration and military leaders have been dismissing it.
They have willfully overlooked his flaws, or they have pardoned him without criticism. That’s why history will show that his negligence is their negligence as well. If the media do not hold him accountable, they also share that burden.