Victor Davis Hanson // The Blade of Perseus
Joe Biden could easily have stayed quiet about his intentions in Afghanistan—or at least leave the enemy in some doubt. He might have maintained US air facilities to support Afghan forces, and kept the major cities secure as they were between 2017-20 under Trump, who himself was a critic of the continued 20-year deployment. But Trump was not foolish enough to yank all troops out along with all air support—or to give the Taliban a virtual timetable for conquest. Worse still, Biden ensured that his regional policies in the Middle East toward Iran, Hamas, and Israel would not project a sense of US deterrence or reliability.
So we should assume that Iran is now dangerously emboldened. Anti-American Pakistan is making the necessary further anti-American adjustments. And the general Middle East will become even scarier, as the US begs the Gulf monarchies (that the Biden administration has so feverishly criticized) to pump all the oil they can—even as the Biden administration damns the use of oil and those in the US who produce it (but will be glad to buy its importation by printing even more money at a time of national financial insolvency).
The Afghan debacle is eerily similar to the US border in which extremists are now in control of US policy and demand that ideology and politics trump common sense and basic humanity. We should brace ourselves for some horrific scenes to follow in Kabul over the next few weeks. They will tragically dwarf the mayhem on the southern border.
Who are the culpable? The CIA utterly failed to give any accurate appraisal of the rapid Taliban advance and takeover. I hope the ruinous legacy within our intelligence and investigatory agencies—of John Brennan, James Clapper, James Comey and Andrew McCabe—does not explain the epidemic of current mediocrity. The Pentagon has been in the news a lot lately, but mostly in connection with our highest officers virtue signaling their woke and careerist new credentials that either had nothing to do with military readiness or actually would undermine it. The gay pride flag over the US embassy in Kabul, along with the embassy’s virtue-signaling woke communiques, did not resonate confidence among Afghans that the US policy was based on shrewd deterrent policies with a full understanding of a traditionalist Islamic society.
Remember, there was a lot of calumny—including military resignations—that met President Trump over the decision in late 2018 not to intervene in the territorial disputes between Turkey and Kurdish forces in Syria, and again during the false charges that he had used tear gas to clear areas near the White House to do a photo-op with Gen. Milley—the latter accusations were proven erroneous by the Inspector General of the Interior Department.
But the loud and twitter-addicted US military top brass, active and retired, has been strangely quiet about the lunatic idea of simply telling the Taliban when all US forces will leave and then allowing thousands of allied Afghans and billions in US equipment to fall into the Taliban’s hands.
Where is the US military-industrial-intelligence complex outrage? Where the cry-of-the-heart tweeting? Where the letter to Biden from distinguished emeriti CIA and military officers? Why would retired generals addictively tweet about Trump’s cancellations of leftwing newspapers to bureaucracies or falsely charge that Obama’s “cages” on the border were Trump’s Auschwitz-like cells—and yet say nothing about the greatest military disaster in recent memory? If Trump was smeared as Nazi-like and a Mussolini, what exactly is Biden’s stewardship?
Given the 20-year-long investment, this ignominious withdrawal is likely to be more humiliating than the final 1975 dark days in Saigon and the boat people who followed, the Reagan 1984 pullout from Lebanon after the 1983 barracks bombing, and President Obama’s sudden 2012 yanking all troops out of Iraq that birthed the “JV” ISIS beheaders. Note that Obama later blamed his decision on the Iraqis, and Biden now blames Trump, even though both boasted during their campaigns that they would boldly do what they actually did.
The Afghanistan implosion—assured to be impossible or at least unlikely by Joe Biden—is occurring in concert with the historic anarchy on the border, the complete erosion of US immigration law, the destruction of the Civil Right-era commitment to a racially blind society and the worst racial relations in a half-century, historic spikes in violent crime, the soaring inflation of the Biden economy, and the loss of US energy independence and reasonable fuel prices. So in just seven months we have matched the darkest days of the Carter years, when at least the President was coherent and a master of his own policies, misguided though they were.
Since Biden in the last 60 days of public commentaries appears to have no idea of what was, is and will be going on in Afghanistan, it is legitimate to ask who does in his administration? Dr. Biden? Ron Klain? General Milley? Antony Blinken? The Obamas?
In the inevitable blame-gaming to come, even the toadish press will have a hard time blaming Trump, as Biden is already doing—given he left troops in Afghanistan and earlier had bombed the “sh*t” out of ISIS in Syria/Iraq. In general, the Pentagon, the CIA and the Biden state departments and national security council teams should have been warning the nation months ago that the decision to virtue signal a complete cave-in would have rapid and deadly ramifications.
Instead, to the very end of this historic disaster, the true dangers on the immediate horizon were denied ad nauseam by Biden himself, with only a few mousy questions and clarifications from the press. Bottom line: a woke Pentagon and revolving-door careerist top brass, a politically warped intelligence bureaucracy, an obsequious press, and a virtue signaling progressive elite can explain well enough why 300,000 vanished into thin air before the murderous Taliban. I think they concluded that siding with our sanctimonious postmodern apparat was a lot more dangerous even than returning to the Dark Ages.
A final lesson. When there is no free press; a president loses all fears of lying and obfuscation, and counts on pet journalists to hide his untruth or at least claim they are minor exaggerations. Biden, to the extent he is even compos mentis, assumed his assertions that Afghans would fight effectively, given their numbers and US equipment and training, would never be seriously cross-examined by a morally bankrupt media, which always puts partisan interests over the national interest. So he simply went on lying….