‘For most of the past week, in the fires of the worst foreign policy crisis of his young administration, the president who won the White House on a promise of competence and compassion has had trouble demonstrating much of either.”
That’s not us saying that. This is how the New York Times described the Afghanistan debacle, which is as sure a sign as any of how much trouble President Joe Biden is in right now.
But we’d go further than the Times. Biden’s backers – and Biden himself – didn’t just portray Joe as competent and empathetic. They said he was experienced, thoughtful, trustworthy, and had sound judgment. That he’d unite the country, and restore America’s standing in the world. That he was, unlike Donald Trump, presidential. It was the basis of Biden’s entire presidential campaign, in fact.
As a reminder, here’s what 70 so-called Republican national security officials said when endorsing Biden in August 2020: “We believe Joe Biden has the character, experience, and temperament to lead this nation. We believe he will restore the dignity of the presidency, bring Americans together, reassert America’s role as a global leader, and inspire our nation to live up to its ideals.”
Who can say any of that now with a straight face?
Biden’s utterly inept Afghanistan withdrawal, his bumbling lies and obfuscations, his callous disregard of those put in harm’s way, his refusal to take responsibility, and the devastation his stupidity has caused to America’s “role as a global leader” have undercut every premise of his presidency.
Listen to what Biden said in April about withdrawing from Afghanistan. “We will not conduct a hasty rush to the exit. We’ll do it – we’ll do it responsibly, deliberately, and safely. And we will do it in full coordination with our allies and partners, who now have more forces in Afghanistan than we do.”
In July, Biden dismissed the likelihood of a Taliban takeover at all.
Q. Is a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan now inevitable?
Biden: No, it is not.
Biden: Because you — the Afghan troops have 300,000 well-equipped — as well-equipped as any army in the world — and an air force against something like 75,000 Taliban. It is not inevitable.
When asked at the same press conference about the potential for a fall-of-Saigon disaster, Biden insisted that “the Taliban is not the North Vietnamese army. They’re not remotely comparable in terms of capability. There’s going to be no circumstance when you’re going to see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy of the United States from Afghanistan. It is not at all comparable.”
After the Taliban took over the country in a matter of days, Biden suddenly started complaining that Trump had left the Taliban in a stronger position than they’d ever been.
Can anything other than gross incompetence explain his failure to get anything about the withdrawal right?
At one point in his ABC News interview last week, George Stephanopoulos said: “We’ve all seen the pictures. We’ve seen those hundreds of people packed into a C-17. You’ve seen Afghans falling …”
At which point Biden interrupts Stephanopoulos to dismissively say “That was four days ago, five days ago.” (It was only two days ago when he said it.)
Last week, this report also surfaced:
In 2010, Biden reportedly told Richard Holbrooke, then Obama’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, that the U.S. had to leave Afghanistan regardless of the cost for the Afghan people.
According to Holbrooke, when Biden was asked about America’s obligation to maintain their presence in Afghanistan to protect vulnerable civilians, he scornfully replied by referencing the US exit from southeast Asia in 1973.
“F*** that, we don’t have to worry about that. We did it in Vietnam, Nixon and Kissinger got away with it.”
Biden had to arrange yet another press event Friday so he could deliver some carefully scripted “compassion” talking points.
Honest And Trustworthy?
Biden has been caught in a series of lies and fabrications as the Taliban swiftly took control of the country.
In his ABC interview, for example, he claimed that “the intelligence community did not say, back in June or July, that in fact this was going to collapse like it did.”
Biden was either lying or he forgot that State Department officials at the U.S. embassy in Kabul sent a cable with a clear warning in July that just such a collapse was likely.
A reporter brought this up at Biden’s Friday press conference, wanting to know “why, after that cable was issued, the U.S. didn’t do more to get Americans out?” Biden’s response: “We’ve got all kind of cables, all kinds of advice.”
Two days earlier, Stephanopoulos reminded Biden that “your top military advisers warned against withdrawing on this timeline. They wanted you to keep about 2,500 troops.”
To which Biden said, “No, they didn’t. It was split. Tha– that wasn’t true. That wasn’t true.”
Except it was true. As the Wall Street Journal reported, “The president’s top generals, including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley, urged Mr. Biden to keep a force of about 2,500 troops, the size he inherited, while seeking a peace agreement between warring Afghan factions, to help maintain stability.”
Biden has tried to reassure the nation that everything was under control and that those Americans trying to get out of Afghanistan were having no problem doing so, thanks to the kindness of the Taliban.
Biden’s own Defense secretary contradicted this claim, noting “we’re also aware some people, including Americans, have been harassed and even beaten by the Taliban.”
Biden also claimed that leaving the country made sense because “We went to Afghanistan for the express purpose of getting rid of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan as well as, as well as getting Osama bin Laden, and we did.” His Pentagon spokesman contradicted that claim, saying “We know that al-Qaeda is a presence, as well as ISIS, in Afghanistan.”
Biden managed to alienate just about everyone after he started laying blame for the debacle on Trump, on the Afghan military, and anyone else he could point a finger at.
In a July 2020 speech, Biden declared that his “foreign policy agenda will place America back at the head of the table, working with our allies and partners – to mobilize global action on global threats.”
Is that so?
The Washington Post reports that U.S. allies are complaining “that they were not fully consulted on a policy decision that potentially puts their own national security interests at risk – in contravention of President Biden’s promises to recommit to global engagement” and that “many around the world are wondering whether they could rely on the United States to fulfill long-standing security commitments stretching from Europe to East Asia.”
French President Emmanuel Macron said: “We thought America was back, while in fact, America withdraws.” Ian Bremmer, director of the Eurasia Group, said that “The decision on how and when to leave was made unilaterally by the Americans, and that’s not the way you treat your allies, frankly.”
Czech President Milos Zeman believes that “by withdrawing from Afghanistan, the Americans have lost their status of global leader.”
Retired Gen. David Petraeus, who commanded forces in Afghanistan and later was CIA director, said that “China and Russia are having a field day saying: This is your partner?”
Incredibly, Biden keeps insisting, as he did Friday, that “I have seen no question of our credibility from our allies around the world.”
Even the New York Times couldn’t stomach that one. In a fact check of his remarks, the Times noted that:
In Germany, the chairman of Parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee called the withdrawal “a serious and far-reaching held Biden in contempt miscalculation by the current administration” and said it did “fundamental damage to the political and moral credibility of the West.” …In Britain, the pullout has raised doubts among some officials about the reliability of the United States as an ally. … Latvia’s defense minister, Artis Pabriks, said that the withdrawal caused “chaos” and showed that the West was “weaker globally.”
For some reason, the Times forgot to mention the fact that the day before Biden uttered those words, the British Parliament voted to hold Biden in contempt, with the London Daily Telegraph reporting that “MPs and peers unite to condemn ‘dishonour’ of U.S. president’s withdrawal and his criticism of Afghan troops left behind to face Taliban.”
Crisis doesn’t build character, the saying goes, it reveals it.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board