Less than a week ago, reports from the Pentagon indicated that the Taliban’s advance across Afghanistan was so rapid that the government wouldn’t survive more than 30-90 days.
Today, that time frame appears to be wildly optimistic. The national government of Afghanistan may not have even 30 hours before the capital of Kabul is overrun.
It’s hard to determine if this was an intelligence failure or a political bungle by the president. Either way, the Afghan people are going to pay for the American failure.
Now, all our energies must be directed to getting our people out safely. The president has sent 3,000 troops to protect the withdrawal of the 650 remaining troops and 1500 diplomatic personnel still in harm’s way. There are also thousands of Afghan civilian workers who assisted the U.S. during our mission and who are in mortal danger once the Taliban takes over.
As an example of the telescoped time frame that’s being forced on the U.S. government, an entire Afghan army corps surrendered in the major city of Herat on Friday.
In the western city of Herat, an entire Afghan army corps crumbled, with hundreds of troops handing over their weapons to the Taliban and others fleeing, according to local officials. The surrender deal was brokered, they said, by a group of Taliban leaders who met with Afghan government and security forces at the military base where they were holed up after the city was overrun Thursday.
The province’s governor, intelligence chief, chief of police and a prominent anti-Taliban militia leader also resigned their posts in exchange for Taliban protection, said Ghulam Habib Hashimi, a legislative official.
Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani delivered a televised address on Saturday, saying his “focus is to prevent further instability, violence and displacement of the people,” adding that “remobilizing the Afghan security and defence forces is our top priority,” according to France24.
Ghani is living in a dream world. There are no “Afghan security and defence forces” to deploy. Ghani’s government controls a few square miles in and around Kabul and that’s it.
Biden’s game is to blame Ghani and the Afghan government for not “uniting” to battle the Taliban. The president has been claiming for weeks that the Afghan army was up to the challenge of defending the country in the absence of U.S. forces.
Related: CNN: Afghanistan’s Fall Is a Neville Chamberlain-esque Failure and It’s Joe Biden’s Fault
It is rare in history that a president has been so wrong, so consistently, about so many things.
The evacuation of our billion-dollar embassy in Kabul is a race against time. State Department employees have been instructed to destroy as much “sensitive” documentation as possible.
American officials here raced Friday to prepare for a Taliban takeover. Inside the U.S. Embassy, diplomats began destroying classified documents and equipment on orders from embassy leadership. An internal memo, obtained by The Washington Post, implored staff to destroy sensitive materials using incinerators, disintegrators and “burn bins” present in the compound. The directive also called for the destruction of “embassy or agency logos, American flags, or items which could be misused in propaganda efforts.”
The State Department has said the embassy will remain open but most of its functions and personnel are expected to be moved to Hamid Karzai International Airport to prepare for a potential evacuation.
In Washington, the department’s Diplomatic Security Bureau began preparing for a crisis, calling on volunteers with “High Threat, High Risk” and overseas experience for “potential 24/7 operations supporting U.S. Embassy Kabul,” per a separate memo sent to staff.
It certainly sounds like Biden expects the Taliban to be at their worst when they enter Kabul. Biden had been begging the Taliban in meetings in Dohar to allow the embassy to continue to operate and to guarantee the safety of personnel. That, apparently, is not going to happen. Hence, 3,000 combat troops were sent to protect the withdrawal and a hasty evacuation is underway.
The United States is leaving behind billions of dollars of military equipment that the Taliban will no doubt use to maintain power. It’s a humiliating end to our Afghan adventure. And it’s not over yet.