By Elizabeth Stauffer August 15, 2021 at 11:00am
Shortly after the fall of Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan’s commercial hub and fourth-largest city, to the Taliban on Saturday, the powers that be in the Biden administration scrambled to issue a statement on behalf of our inept and feeble president.
President Joe Biden’s strategy was an attempt to shift blame for the debacle from his White House to both the incompetent Afghan National Army and, naturally, to former President Donald Trump.
He told Americans he’d authorized additional troops to assist in the evacuation.
He’s also “ordered” the military and the intelligence community “to ensure that we will maintain the capability and the vigilance to address future terrorist threats from Afghanistan.” He’d “directed” Secretary of State Antony Blinken to support the Afghan president.
“We have conveyed to the Taliban representatives in Doha, via our Combatant Commander, that any action on their part on the ground in Afghanistan, that puts U.S. personnel or our mission at risk there, will be met with a swift and strong U.S. military response,” the statement said.
Then Biden tried to makes the case that a “U.S. military presence would not have made a difference if the Afghan military cannot or will not hold its own country.”
“… Over our country’s 20 years at war in Afghanistan, America has sent its finest young men and women, invested nearly $1 trillion dollars, trained over 300,000 Afghan soldiers and police, equipped them with state-of-the-art military equipment, and maintained their air force as part of the longest war in U.S. history. One more year, or five more years, of U.S. military presence would not have made a difference if the Afghan military cannot or will not hold its own country. And an endless American presence in the middle of another country’s civil conflict was not acceptable to me.”
His statement ended by placing the rest of the blame on the Trump administration.
It read: “When I came to office, I inherited a deal cut by my predecessor — which he invited the Taliban to discuss at Camp David on the eve of 9/11 of 2019 — that left the Taliban in the strongest position militarily since 2001 and imposed a May 1, 2021 deadline on U.S. Forces.
Do you blame President Biden for the chaos in Afghanistan?
“Shortly before he left office, he also drew U.S. Forces down to a bare minimum of 2,500. Therefore, when I became President, I faced a choice — follow through on the deal, with a brief extension to get our Forces and our allies’ Forces out safely, or ramp up our presence and send more American troops to fight once again in another country’s civil conflict. I was the fourth President to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan — two Republicans, two Democrats. I would not, and will not, pass this war onto a fifth.”
Biden is right that despite over a decade of the training and equipment from the finest military in the world, the Afghan National Army was completely incompetent. Reuters reported the Taliban took Jalalabad on Sunday morning from the ANA without a fight. That speaks volumes.
Clearly, the U.S. troop presence was the only thing keeping the insurgents at bay. To say otherwise is disingenuous. Once U.S. forces made their hasty retreat, the Taliban moved in fast.
Biden would have us believe that he was forced to act because of the timeline agreed upon by Trump and the Taliban. But Biden has already made changes to that timeline. He can do that because he’s the president.
There was a right way, a strategic, thoughtful way, to draw down U.S. troops and there was a quick, sloppy, and dangerous way to accomplish it. Naturally, the Biden administration chose the latter.
And that leaves only one realistic conclusion: Biden is to blame for the complete chaos unfolding in Afghanistan today.
As I see it, there were two items the Biden administration overlooked in the Trump plan.
The first was that conditions in Afghanistan would determine the pace. As the statement Trump released Saturday via his Save America PAC makes clear, his withdrawal would have been “guided by facts on the ground.” In any conflict, the situation can change on a dime. And plans must be adjusted accordingly. The Biden administration either could not or would not pay heed to what was happening in real time.
Second, the Trump plan carried a big stick.
The president had spent his term in office defeating the Islamic State group and its murderous “caliphate.” He’d made it crystal clear to the mullahs of Iran that the U.S. was not going to be intimidated by their Islamic brand of fascism. The Taliban knew, as well as anyone in the world, that Trump was not to be taken lightly.
Also, Trump administration Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News on Friday that the Trump plan contained a number of binding “models of deterrence.” In other words, if the Taliban failed to comply with the agreement, there would be immediate consequences.
“[It] looks like they have not been able to execute this,” Pompeo said. “Strategy depends on planning and execution. Looks like there’s a bit of panic. I hope that they have the right number of folks and get them there quickly. I hope we can protect Americans in the way the Trump administration had every intention of doing.”
Trump projected strength. Biden projects weakness. Terrorists understand the difference.
Biden begging terrorists to go easy on a U.S. Embassy: pic.twitter.com/bZtWVIaELW
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) August 12, 2021
Conditions continued to deteriorate.
After the Taliban took Jalalabad, Kabul, the nation’s capital, was essentially under siege. Reuters reported the development gave the Taliban “control of one of the main highways into landlocked Afghanistan. They also took over the nearby Torkham border post with Pakistan, leaving Kabul airport the only way out of Afghanistan that is still in government hands.”
From there, it didn’t take long for insurgents to take Kabul. A source from within the country’s interior ministry told Reuters that the Taliban entered Kabul just as the U.S. military was evacuating diplomats from the Embassy. The source also said “insurgents were coming in ‘from all sides’ but gave no further details.”
The final blow came shortly after 10 a.m. on Sunday. Fox News reported that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country after the Taliban entered the city “and demanded unconditional surrender on Sunday.”
The Fox headline quoted a U.S. official: “‘That’s it. It’s over.’”
To say that the presence of U.S. troops would not have changed things is absurd on its face. But what the weekend’s developments prove is that, more than anything, it’s the identity of the president that makes the real difference.
And by that standard, Biden is failing miserably.