News & Politics

Staying in Afghanistan for 20 Years Was a Mistake, But Biden Has Made Leaving a Catastrophe

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool

The U.S. has abandoned Bagram Airfield, its primary base of counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan. Within hours of the last U.S. serviceman’s departure, the base was being looted of everything of military value by the Taliban,

They’re almost certainly grateful.

As for the American president, he doesn’t want to talk about the catastrophe his policies have unleashed.

New York Post:

A testy President Biden on Friday cut off reporters who were peppering him with questions about Afghanistan potentially falling to the Taliban once US troops fully withdraw — telling them he would take their “negative” questions another time.

Biden, who met last week with Afghan leaders, said “I want to talk about happy things, man” when he received a third question on Afghanistan at an event celebrating jobs growth in June.

When a reporter attempted to ask a fourth question on Afghanistan, Biden said: “I’m not gonna answer any more questions on Afghanistan. Look, it’s Fourth of July [weekend].”

The president said, “You guys are asking me questions that I’ll answer next week. But this is a holiday weekend. I’m going to celebrate it. There’s great things happening.”

“Happy things,” indeed.

How happy is it that the Afghan army is “melting away” so fast that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has fired his top commanders and asked civilians to form anti-Taliban militias? It’s OK because Ghani ordered a huge portrait of himself to be hung at the airport terminal in Kabul.

Ghani may not be out of power yet, but the Taliban are certainly handing him his hat and showing him the door.

Observer Research Foundation:

The tell-tale signs of the roof collapsing are palpable on the streets what with people desperately trying to get out while they still can. It wasn’t like this even at the time when the last Soviet troops exited from Afghanistan in early 1989. Back then, it was quite an anti-climax because, much to the disappointment of the Western media, there were none of the scenes of triumphant ‘mujahideen’ entering Kabul the day after the Soviets left. The Najibullah government held out for nearly three years and finally collapsed when the successor state of the Soviet Union was no longer able to support it with military supplies and monetary assistance. This time, however, there is real panic and people seem to be expecting the sky to fall suddenly. What has added to sense of gloom and doom is the fact that the Taliban are making advances not just in their traditional strongholds in the South and East of the country, but also in the North and West. Some of these provinces in the North were redoubts of the anti-Taliban forces and had held out even when the Taliban had captured 90 percent of the country in the late 1990s. And yet, today they are as threatened and vulnerable as any other part of Afghanistan.

This is what Joe Biden has wrought. It’s not an argument for staying in Afghanistan. It’s an argument for electing a president who could manage the task of American retreat without humiliation.

Biden’s decision to leave at this point in time was opposed by much of the Pentagon brass, including the top U.S. commander in the region. They disagreed with Biden’s rosy portrait of Afghan resistance and the president’s overselling the capabilities of the military and the ability of the political leadership to withstand the Taliban’s pressure.

Biden set the date for total withdrawal for September 11. A date to honor the innocents murdered by fanaticism and hate will now be remembered as America’s humiliating retreat from Afghanistan. It didn’t have to be that way. But Biden had a debt to pay to his radical supporters who wanted an American humiliation and he delivered.