Biden to Afghanistan: Drop Dead


President

Biden

told the world on Monday that he doesn’t regret his decision to withdraw rapidly from Afghanistan, or even the chaotic, incompetent way the withdrawal has been executed. He is determined in retreat, defiant in surrender, and confident in the rightness of consigning the country to jihadist rule. We doubt the world will see it the same way in the days, months and years ahead.

***

Mr. Biden refused to accept responsibility for the botched withdrawal while blaming others. He blamed

Donald Trump’s

peace deal with the Taliban and falsely claimed again that he was trapped. He blamed his three predecessors for not getting out of Afghanistan. He blamed the Afghans for not fighting hard enough, their leaders for fleeing, and even Afghans who helped us for not leaving sooner. The one group he conspicuously did not blame was the Taliban, who once harbored

Osama bin Laden

and may protect his terrorist successor.

Further Coverage: Chosen By Editors

The President made glancing reference to the horrible scenes unfolding in Kabul and especially at the airport, though again without addressing the mistakes that led to them. Had the U.S. not given up the air base at Bagram, now controlled by the Taliban, the U.S. would not now have to fight to control Kabul’s commercial airfield.

The chaotic scenes at the airport, with Afghans hanging from a U.S. military plane and two falling from the sky to their deaths, will be the indelible images of this debacle. They are the echo of 9/11, with people falling from the sky, that Mr. Biden didn’t anticipate when he chose the 20th anniversary of 9/11 as his withdrawal deadline.

Instead of taking responsibility, Mr. Biden played to the sentiment of Americans who are tired of foreign military missions. It’s a powerful point to speak of sending a child to risk his life in a foreign country, and no doubt it will resonate with many Americans. It is a question that every President should ask.

But the President was dishonest in framing the U.S. mission merely as fighting in another country’s “civil war.” The U.S. didn’t remain in Afghanistan for 20 years to send women to school or to “nation build.” The core mission was to prevent the country from again becoming a terrorist safe haven. The Taliban’s victory will now attract thousands of young jihadists from around the world, and they will have Americans and the U.S. homeland in their sights.

Mr. Biden said he would maintain a counterterrorism over-the-horizon capability” to strike camps in Afghanistan, but that will be much harder from the distance of the Persian Gulf. This is a far bigger risk than he lets on, as U.S. intelligence agencies know.

Mr. Biden was also dishonest in framing his Afghan decision as a false choice between total withdrawal and sending tens of thousands of troops again. He knows his own advisers, military and civilian, believed they could support the Afghan military with no more than a few thousand troops to supply air power and intelligence.

He also knows the U.S. hasn’t had a single casualty in more than a year in Afghanistan. Even if Mr. Biden was set on withdrawal, he could have done it based on conditions that would have given the Taliban more incentive to negotiate with the government.

Mr. Biden claimed that Afghan leaders

Ashraf Ghani

and

Abdullah Abdullah

had refused his advice to negotiate with the Taliban. That is false. They had been negotiating with the Taliban for months, under enormous pressure from the Trump Administration. The problem is that the Taliban had no incentive to negotiate in good faith when it knew the U.S. was leaving and would be able to take its chances on a military victory.

Like all good liberal internationalists, Mr. Biden thinks you can achieve a diplomatic outcome by diplomacy alone. Mr. Biden’s claim that the U.S. will continue to support the Afghan people and stand for human rights and the women of Afghanistan is the same kind of internationalist twaddle. The Taliban is taking the women of Afghanistan back to the Dark Ages, and the “international community” will do nothing to stop it. Mr. Biden’s words of “support” will be cold comfort when the Taliban knocks on the doors of women who worked in the Afghan government.

***

We had hoped that Mr. Biden would accept some responsibility and explain how he would fix this mess. He did none of that, making it clear that he himself is the main architect of this needless American surrender. It does not bode well for the rest of his Presidency.

The world has seen a President portraying surrender as an act of political courage, and retreat as strategic wisdom. As we write this, the world’s rogues are looking for ways to give him a chance to deliver a similar speech about other parts of the world.

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