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Tue, May 30, 2023
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Biden's botched Afghanistan pullout will hurt America for decades to come
Sadly, all of us in America are going to have to deal with the consequences of President Joe Biden's failure in Afghanistan, and are going to have to deal with them for decades to come. The attached article from the Washington Examiner, the cover story of that publication with numerous experts "assessing where Biden's monumental blunder has left America in the eyes of the world, most notably in the view of our enemies," needs to be a warning of the consequences of showing weakness to the world.
Let's be clear up front about two things.
First, I am not unaware that a withdrawal from Afghanistan was probably going to happen anyway. Afghanistan long ago became a massive failure of American efforts to bring Western-style democracy and economics to a part of the world so remote and so undeveloped that advancing to the level of the glory days of the Islamic world a thousand years ago in Spain or Egypt would have been an improvement. President Woodrow Wilson spoke a century ago about making the world safe for democracy, but some parts of the world not only don't want democracy, their people don't understand what the concept means or why it's valuable.
Former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was almost tailor-made to bring Western ideals to Afghanistan -- he was a son of the pre-Soviet Afghan elite, studied in America as a foreign exchange student, married a Lebanese woman who he met during the period that Lebanon was considered a shining example of Western-style systems working in the Middle East, and after the post-Soviet collapse of Afghanistan, had decades of experience working in the West with various Western institutions helping rebuild failed states. He was able to win his election bid to become president of his country (and yes, I know about the many problems with that election), but realities on the ground have proved that the Afghan people simply do not want what Ghani and the West were offering. At best, he might have been able to govern a relatively cosmopolitan Kabul, but the rural parts of Afghanistan rejected the freedom and prosperity he wanted to bring in favor of something fundamentally antithetical to the West.
Depending on whose crystal ball is less cloudy, either former President Donald J. Trump is the luckiest man alive not to have images of the loss of Kabul happening on his watch or maybe -- just maybe -- Trump would have gotten angry enough seeing the slaughtering of Afghan special forces and Afghans who worked with Americans that he would acted.
What would that action have looked like? Maybe he could have ramped up military aid to those units of the Afghan National Army that were actually willing to fight. Maybe he would have decided that paying lots of money to support one side in a bloody civil war is cheaper than sending tens of thousands of Americans to enforce a defensive perimeter of some sort around the Afghan capital city. We don't know, and without inventing time travel and going back to try to change history, we can't know. Apart from the withdrawal of American contractors that were providing necessary logistical support to the Afghan National Army and the decision to cut American troop levels below the point that we could defend the Bagram Air Base and the US Embassy, it's hard to point to one or two key things that Joe Biden did wrong in the months leading up to the Afghan collapse that President Trump wasn't leaning toward doing anyway.
My second point is that, as bad as Biden's debacle is, it could have been far worse.
Imagine President Kamala Harris in the White House right now, or President Elizabeth Warren, or President Bernie Sanders. Would any of them have done better than Biden?
While I am no fan of the way Biden has handled this catastrophe, we need to be clear-eyed. Any other Democrat who had a realistic possibility of winning the 2020 primary would have mangled Afghanistan as badly, and quite possibly far worse, than was done by Biden. Maybe, just maybe, someone like Mike Bloomberg would have been able to mobilize the financial resources to try to help bring prosperity to the Afghan economy, but that is a decades-long project, not something that could have been accomplished in a matter of only seven to eight months from the inauguration to the beginning of the Afghan collapse.
The editor of the Washington Examiner, Hugo Gurdon, said it well in a preface to the article I've linked below:
"America has a credibility problem among friends and enemies around the world. It's dangerous, and it starts at the top with the president."
What makes Biden's failure most serious is that it's become clear this week not only that Biden bungled the withdrawal from Afghanistan, he misrepresented the advice of his senior military leaders.
As Gurdon put it "Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, and Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, made it plain to Congress that they'd advised Biden to keep 2,500 military personnel in Afghanistan to evacuate Americans, legal residents, and allies before the Taliban takeover. They didn't want to scuttle away as ordered. They tried not to drop their boss into the doo-doo with too big a splash but wanted it known that the fiasco of America's humiliating withdrawal could not be attributed to poor advice from them. It was due entirely to Biden's vanity and pig-headedness. Our cover story is a symposium of experts assessing where Biden's monumental blunder has left America in the eyes of the world, most notably in the view of our enemies. It's sobering but necessary reading."
Any president, whether Trump, Biden, or someone else, would have entered office in January 2021 with a major problem pending in Kabul. There may well have been no good solution.
But when America's top military leaders take to the halls of Congress and try to find a nice way of saying "I told you so" to their boss, we have a real problem.
I've said many times that if we had to have a Democrat in the White House, Biden was the best of a bad lot.
But I didn't expect something like this from Biden.
Unlike most Democrats at the national level, he actually has family members who served in uniform. He has a decades-long history of supporting police, law enforcement, and the military, dating back to the era when traditional blue-collar Democrats were routinely backed by police unions.
He knows better than this.
All I can think of is that Biden decided several years ago that the only way he could become president was to capitulate just enough to the "woke" crowd in the far-left wing of the Democratic Party that they wouldn't destroy him, and then wait for the far left to destroy themselves with radical and extreme policy proposals in the primary -- which is pretty much what happened -- and then become the consensus candidate of the Democrats who wanted to win the White House and believed a socialist agenda would re-elect Trump.
That means Biden decided he had no choice but to work with people who not only fail to understand but actively oppose and even hate the American military and its leadership.
Lots of moderate Democrats decided long ago they couldn't make those compromises. Some -- Senator Joe Manchin III is the most obvious example today -- decided to stay Democrats and fight back. Many more Democrats either retired from politics or became Republicans.
Biden won't be able to continue trying to portray himself as a Democrat who understands police, the military, and the older blue collar base of the traditional Democratic Party if he keeps going down this road of blaming America's top military leaders for his own actions in disregarding their advice.

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