The White House is saying that the U.S. military does not have the capability to escort Americans to the Kabul airport and is hinting that not all Americans who want to leave will make it out.
“It’s obvious we’re not close to where we want to be,” defense secretary Lloyd Austin said at a press conference at the Pentagon. “We’re gonna get everyone that we can possibly evacuate evacuated, and I’ll do that as long as we possibly can, until the clock runs out, or we run out of capability.”
That’s the first we’ve heard about the U.S. being on a “clock” to get everyone out.
“There is no clock by which we abandon our fellow citizens to the bloodthirsty Taliban. August 31 was an arbitrary, politically-driven deadline,” Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) said in response to Austin’s remarks. “President Biden and Defense Secretary Austin need to correct this immediately. Make it absolutely clear that come hell or high water the United States military will do whatever it takes to get every single American out of Afghanistan.”
This would appear to call for some not-so-subtle threats — the sort of threats that the Carter administration failed to give the Iranians prior to our embassy being overrun and American hostages taken in 1979.
The American military controls the airport and nothing else. That means that the estimated 15,000 Americans in hiding must expose themselves to Taliban checkpoints before they can reach the safety of the airport.
The problem is that all sorts of Taliban fanatics are on duty at these checkpoints, any one of which might take it upon themselves to kill a couple of Americans for the glory of Allah. Or the civilians could be kidnapped and held for ransom.
Indeed, the Wall Street Journal points out that the United States is already being held hostage by the Taliban.
Pressed by reporters on whether the military could leave the airport and get Americans, or extend the airport perimeter, or create a safe-passage corridor from Kabul, Mr. Austin said he couldn’t do any of those and keep the airport secure. That means he’s also depending on the goodwill of the Taliban to let our people and our allies go.
Gen. Milley was also pressed on why the military had abandoned nearby Bagram Air Base in July. Bagram has two runways, while HKIA has one. The general said he didn’t have the troops to protect Bagram and the U.S. Embassy given the rapid troop drawdown order from President Biden. Gen. Milley said his orders were to protect the Embassy as a priority, and the military did.
The WSJ is calling the bug-out a “rolling humiliation.” The spectacle of the United States going before the Taliban and begging them not to harm our people is almost too much to stomach.
In fact, any Americans outside of Kabul are pretty much on their own when it comes to getting to the airport.
There’s also a rather stunning Washington Post report this week that claims Biden administration officials told Senate staffers there is “no plan to evacuate Americans who are still outside of Kabul, as they do not have a way of getting through the Taliban checkpoints outside the capital city.”
There it is. There’s the truth.
If you want to know why White House officials are being so evasive this week about whether they have a plan to evacuate all Americans from Afghanistan, it’s because they don’t. Worse, the White House is signaling loudly it believes the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan will likely end poorly for the many, possibly thousands, of American citizens trapped there right now.
There are no doubt contingency plans that might be employed to change the dynamics of the situation. But any plans of that nature demand that the president take a calculated risk.
And Joe Biden doesn’t do “risk.”