As U.S.-backed Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country and Taliban leaders posed for pictures inside the presidential palace in Kabul, Old Joe Biden’s handlers published a photo of their own. The White House Twitter account posted a photo of Old Joe sitting alone at a massive conference table at Camp David, with the caption: “This morning, the President and Vice President met with their national security team and senior officials to hear updates on the draw down of our civilian personnel in Afghanistan, evacuations of SIV applicants and other Afghan allies, and the ongoing security situation in Kabul.”
Joe was posed looking pensively at a huge screen on the wall, where various participants in a Zoom meeting could be seen: the vice president as promised, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, various officials of the CIA, the DNI, and other agencies, plus — significantly — “Doha Station.” Biden has been receiving harsh criticism for being AWOL while Afghanistan fell more quickly than anyone in his administration expected, and the photo was apparently issued to fool the rubes into thinking that the great statesman was actually hard at work, ever-vigilant to preserve, protect, and defend the United States of America and its citizens.
This morning, the President and Vice President met with their national security team and senior officials to hear updates on the draw down of our civilian personnel in Afghanistan, evacuations of SIV applicants and other Afghan allies, and the ongoing security situation in Kabul. pic.twitter.com/U7IpK3Hyj8
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) August 15, 2021
The White House’s photo and caption, however, inadvertently only put a spotlight on the fact that the withdrawal from Afghanistan has been catastrophically mishandled. As the Taliban held a press conference from the presidential palace in Kabul just five weeks after Old Joe denied that “a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan” was “now inevitable” and insisted that it was “not true” that the Afghan government would “likely collapse,” the White House spoke blandly about Biden and Harris hearing “updates on the draw down of our civilian personnel in Afghanistan.”
It’s not a “draw down,” it’s a rout, and everyone knows it – everyone, that is, with the possible exception of Old Joe, sitting alone at his huge conference table, pretending to be briefed about this disaster and simultaneously pretending that it isn’t a disaster.
The photo also highlighted how useless Biden really is. It was supposed to show how he is still in charge of the situation even while “vacationing” at Camp David, but the fact that it is all that we have seen of him while the Taliban rapidly overran all of Afghanistan that was not already under its control only highlights the fact that where Biden is and what he is doing really doesn’t matter much in terms of the direction of United States foreign (or domestic) policy. The people who are running this administration continue to run it whether he is in Washington or Wilmington or Camp David. They bring him out for a press conference in which he takes only carefully scripted questions, or pose him for a photo-op now and again, but it’s all just for appearances.
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Blinken, meanwhile, went on CNN to hit a few softballs from Jake Tapper and try to fool the rubes some more by declaring victory: “We were in Afghanistan for one overriding purpose,” he declared. “To deal with the folks that attacked us on 9/11.” Well, yes, Tony, but that was twenty years ago. Since then there has been a long history of mission creep, futile and foredoomed nation-building, pathetic attempts to win hearts and minds, and an immense amount of pointless waste of lives and American resources. But Blinken pretended none of that had happened, and had the chutzpah to claim: “On the terms that we went into Afghanistan in the first place, we’ve succeeded in achieving our objectives.”
We’ve succeeded? What? We dealt with the folks that attacked us on 9/11? How’s that again? On 9/11, al-Qaeda operatives who had trained in Afghanistan and been aided by the Taliban murdered nearly 3,000 people in New York City and Washington. We toppled the Taliban, but stayed around for around nineteen years too long, and now the Taliban are back. We succeeded in our objectives, but then our objectives changed and became difficult to define, and now the only thing that is clear is that we didn’t succeed in any of our objectives.
The White House, however, is clearly more interested in fooling the rubes than in pondering the lessons of the entirely avoidable debacle in Afghanistan. Billions of dollars’ worth of U.S. materiel has fallen into the hands of the Taliban, while our military was consumed with other, more important matters than securing the safe removal of that hardware from Afghanistan, such as making sure all of our soldiers are woke enough to serve. It’s no problem. If people start complaining, they can just trot out Old Joe and a general or two for another photo-op, with the bland assurance that they’re busy protecting us and the situation is entirely under control. The establishment media will put it over on the American people. It’s always worked before. It will always work. Won’t it?