News & Politics

As Afghanistan Fell, Taliban Gave the U.S. the Option to Secure Kabul. The U.S. Refused.

AP Photo/Rahmat Gul

On Monday, Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) tweeted: “As the Afghan government fell, the Taliban gave US officials the option to take control of Kabul. They PASSED and instead opted to willingly surrender the city to the Taliban and control only the airport till 8/31! HOW MANY MORE COULD HAVE BEEN SAVED?!?” It’s a question to which we will never know the answer, but Hice had abundant good reason to ask it. Even the Washington Post, which usually does all it can to make Biden’s handlers look good, reported Saturday that as the Taliban were sweeping through Afghanistan, they gave the United States the option to secure Kabul, which would have allowed untold numbers of people who are still trapped there now to have gotten out safely. But Biden’s military refused, opting instead for control only of Kabul’s airport, leading directly to the disaster we have seen unfold over the last two weeks.

The WaPo quotes “a senior U.S. official” saying: “He not only abandoned his country, but then unraveled the security situation in Kabul.” This official was not, however, referring to Old Joe Biden, but to the president of the U.S.-backed Afghan national government, Ashraf Ghani, who fled the country as his military was collapsing before the Taliban’s advance.

Yet the parallels between Ghani and Biden are numerous. The Post notes that as the Taliban took city after city in Afghanistan, “Ghani’s lack of focus on the threat that the Taliban posed mystified U.S. officials, in particular, Marine Gen. Kenneth ‘Frank’ McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, and Ambassador Ross Wilson.”

These two reportedly tried to push Ghani to be more prepared: “In a July meeting with Ghani in Kabul, the two men told the Afghan president that his team needed a ‘realistic, implementable and widely supported plan to defend the country’ and must drop the idea of defending all 34 provincial capitals, said an official familiar with the meeting.” The Post quotes an unnamed official saying: “They had to focus on what they could actually defend. All provinces are important, but some were integral to the defense of Kabul.”

Yet nothing was done: “Ghani appeared to agree, but there would be no follow-through, the official said. ‘Advice would be given, the right things would be said, and nothing would happen,’ the official said. ‘They never did it. They never came up with that plan.’”

Related: Pentagon Had Advanced Intel on ‘Mass Casualty Attack’ at Kabul Airport Attack But Failed to Stop It: Report

Hey, that sounds like the befuddled occupant of the Oval Office and his woke military minions. Back in June, the commander of CENTCOM, Marine Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., gave an interview to Military Times in which he declared confidently: “We have workable plans to evacuate any scale of people that we would be directed to do. That’s one of the things that we have done. I’ve talked to the secretary about it.” We know now that either no such plans ever existed or they were never implemented.

The Biden resonances don’t stop there. The Post continues: “Even as a cascade of provincial capitals fell — starting with Zaranj in the far southwest on Aug. 6, and continuing through two dozen others over the nine days that followed — the president appeared distracted. ‘Ghani would want to talk about digitization of the economy,’ said the official, referring to the president’s plan for a government salary payment system. ‘It had nothing to do with the dire threat.’”

Or as Old Joe Biden might put it: “I want to talk about happy things, man.”

Even all that didn’t make the catastrophe that we have seen inevitable. Even as the Taliban approached Kabul, the Americans had a chance to keep control of the city and get our people and materiel out safely. According to the Post, “in a hastily arranged in-person meeting, senior U.S. military leaders in Doha — including McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command — spoke with Abdul Ghani Baradar, head of the Taliban’s political wing. ‘We have a problem,’ Baradar said, according to the U.S. official. ‘We have two options to deal with it: You [the United States military] take responsibility for securing Kabul or you have to allow us to do it.’”

McKenzie, aware that Biden was committed to getting us out of Afghanistan, told Baradar that all that the U.S. needed was the airport. “On the spot, an understanding was reached, according to two other U.S. officials: The United States could have the airport until Aug. 31. But the Taliban would control the city.”

We see how well that has worked out. And so Rep. Hice’s question will linger forever: how many others might have been saved, if there had been even a modicum of strategic savvy, competence and patriotism among the commander-in-chief and his top military officers?