I imagine some in the White House were hoping the fall of Afghanistan might just be a two-week story, and the public might quickly lose interest in it. But, sadly, the situation continues to deteriorate with long-term consequences.
Facing rampant criticism for evacuating the military before thousands of American citizens, the Biden administration is reportedly considering rescue operations outside of the Kabul airport.
“The Pentagon appears to be inching toward expanding its rescue mission in Afghanistan outside of the walls of Hamid Karzai International Airport, as the situation grows dire for US citizens now unable to reach the airport,” reports the Daily Mail.
This represents a significant change in strategy for the Biden administration. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said last week that U.S. forces “don’t have the capability to go out and collect up large numbers of people.”
I guess enough bad publicity has suddenly changed the military’s capabilities.
And the publicity has been awful. According to an earlier report, a U.S. general allegedly told a British commander to stop rescuing British nationals because it was making America look bad. That plea was, of course, denied. As other countries were rescuing their citizens without hesitation, the United States seemingly stood alone as the one country willing to leave its people behind.
So, how does the United States go from not having “the capability to go out and collect up large numbers of people,” to suddenly considering doing just that?
Last month, Biden famously predicted that the Taliban would not take over the country, and we wouldn’t be forced to rescue Americans in helicopters of the roof of an embassy.
“The Taliban is not the south—the North Vietnamese army. They’re not—they’re not remotely comparable in terms of capability. There is going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy in the—of the United States from Afghanistan. It is not at all comparable,” he said. His prediction was very wrong, and we’ve all seen the footage of people being airlifted out, desperate Afghans trying to get into the airport, babies being handed to American troops by desperate mothers hoping their children will have a chance to survive. Clearly, the Biden administration, which claimed to have anticipated various contingencies, didn’t properly plan out this withdrawal, let alone the evacuation, and has realized that their desperate attempt to prevent horrific footage of a chaotic evacuation failed. Now they actually have to do something because the optics of doing nothing is worse.
In other words, Biden was willing to leave Americans behind because someone figured that was the better option politically.
From the beginning, it’s been clear Biden cares more about getting out to get the credit in time for the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks to care about anything else. He was warned this disaster would happen but ignored those warnings. Instead, Biden held out hope that Afghanistan would be the crowning achievement of his foreign policy record. In doing so, he created perhaps the most epic disaster in modern American military history.
Make no mistake about it; the Biden administration is trying to clean up the mess it made for the wrong reasons. They won’t conduct rescue operations outside of the airport because they stand on a principle that they won’t leave Americans behind. They already left them behind once. This is the Biden administration playing politics, trying to fix a mistake that is damaging Biden in the polls and hurting the Democrats’ prospects for the 2022 midterms and beyond.