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The Afghanistan disaster — Trump or Biden?

By Mark Alexander
 web posted September 6, 2021

In the wake of our nation's disgraceful and disastrous retreat from Afghanistan (AFG), which I detailed in "The War Is NOT Over," there is a lot of deliberate obfuscation about the difference in the Afghan exit plan negotiated by Donald Trump and that executed by Joe Biden. Of course, Biden's Beltway cadres and their Leftmedia parrots are leading that disinformation campaign.

The line goes something like, The longest war is over, the exit happened under Biden, but it was Trump's fault because he negotiated with the Taliban, thus he bears responsibility. But thanks to Biden, America's longest war is over and it would have ended badly regardless.

That is a colossal dumper full of pig manure.

Typical of the leftists' rhetoric is this from Juan Williams, Fox News's perfunctory peddler of Biden's party-line tripe: "I think this is a bold headline day for America that forever war is over. I think we accomplished the goals that we set when we went in there 20 years ago, that Afghanistan was not used as a terrorist launching site. The American people want this war over. And when you think about the 13 heroes whose bodies came home this weekend ... you know what, those people died in a good cause. They are the last people who will have died in this, you know, America's longest war..." (Killed by terrorists harbored by the Taliban.)

In fact, assuming the American citizens Biden abandoned behind enemy lines get out safe, this war is far from over for the Afghan allies we left behind, some 80,000 of whom were already approved "special immigration visa" holders, and who will now be targeted for extinction. And this war is far from over for those who will become targets of violence perpetrated the Taliban's terrorist surrogates worldwide in the coming years.

Williams then invoked the blame-spreading: "I think that when you look at this, and you're looking at four presidents, you look at President [George W.] Bush, who chose to go in there and didn't know how to get out. You look at President [Barack] Obama... He really didn't know how to get out. Trump negotiating with the Taliban. And now, President Biden underestimated the strength of the Afghan government. There are a lot of mistakes here."

Let's clear up who is responsible for the deadly exfil "mistakes."

In recent days, Biden has repeatedly attempted to blame-shift his AFG failure to Trump.

Asked who was responsible for the Kabul bombing and AFG cluster, Biden correctly said, "I bear responsibility for, fundamentally, all that's happened of late."

Predictably, he qualified that response: "But here's the deal: You know — I wish you'd one day say these things — you know as well as I do that the former president made a deal with the Taliban..."

That was a lie. Trump's exit plan was with the Afghan government but included terms that the Taliban had to meet.

Ironically, moments later, Biden attempted to defend his own coordination with and dependence on the Taliban by insisting the bombing was ISIS-Khorasan (ISK), not the Taliban. He lied about this distinction.

For the record, this is the same Sunni Islamist Taliban who, according to the Department of Defense (DoD), just released "thousands" of Sunni Islamist ISK terrorists from Bagram Air Base just 30 miles north of Kabul a week earlier, and the same Taliban whose leader proclaimed last week that Sunni Islamist Osama bin Laden had no connection to the 9/11 Islamist attack on our country.

And recall that the Taliban "head of security" in Kabul, Khalil Haqqani, is a U.S. government-designated terrorist and has a $5 million bounty on his head. What could go wrong?

Political analyst Rich Lowry describes Biden's remarks last week as "the arsonist bragging about how many fires he has put out," and notes, "Honor has always had an enormous influence on human affairs and the conduct of governments — until, evidently, the advent of President Joe Biden in the year 2021."

Biden and his cadre spent the last month speaking of the Taliban as if they were some trustworthy and legitimate government entity, rather than the amalgam of violent Sunni Islamist terrorists who invaded Afghanistan from Pakistan after the Soviet retreat — and have now rapidly reconstituted. There is virtually NO degree of ideological separation between the so-called "Taliban government" thugs and their surrogate terrorist groups, just doctrinal differences. And there is now no doubt that the more violent Sunni ISK Islamists (also from Pakistan) and Sunni al-Qa'ida Islamists have risen just as rapidly as surrogates under the Sunni Taliban protectorate. To insist that ISK and al-Qa'ida are not under the Taliban umbrella is a distinction without a difference.

Then, defending his decision to abandon Americans behind enemy lines, Biden again blamed Trump while taking credit for "the extraordinary success of this mission." "Extraordinary success"?

Biden insisted: "My predecessor, the former president, signed an agreement with the Taliban to remove U.S. troops by May 1, just months after I was inaugurated. ... The previous administration's agreement said that if we stuck to the May 1st deadline that they had signed on to leave by, the Taliban wouldn't attack any American forces. ... But if we stayed all bets were off, so we were left with a simple decision. Either follow-through on the commitment made by the last administration and leave Afghanistan or say we weren't leaving and commit another tens of thousands more troops going back to war. That was the choice — the real choice. I was not going to extend the war."

Then, after making sure to mention the retreat plan "was based on the unanimous recommendation of my civilian and military advisors — the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and all the service chiefs, and the commanders in the field," he then added, "I take responsibility for the decision."

To be clear, as I noted in "Biden's Afghan Blowup," Trump's drawdown plan had two primary and finite conditions: First, that the Taliban had demonstrably cut their ties with al-Qa'ida, ISK, and other terror groups, and second, that they successfully negotiate and maintain peace with the AFG government.

With Trump gone, the Taliban summarily discarded those conditions and ousted the AFG government. And why wouldn't they? Obviously, they had no fear of Biden enforcing those terms. Former Director of National Intelligence Rick Grenell concurs: "The Taliban onslaught started coming once Joe Biden got into the White House. The Taliban knew they couldn't make the move when Trump was in office."

According to seasoned political analyst Brit Hume, "If you believe the Biden administration's claim it was bound by the Trump-Taliban deal and thus had to get out fast," you need to get your facts straight.

Referencing an investigative report published a week earlier, "Was Biden handcuffed by Trump's Taliban deal in Doha?" the authors concluded: "U.S. officials made clear at the time that the agreement was conditions-based and the failure of intra-Afghan peace talks to reach a negotiated settlement would have nullified the requirement to withdraw. One day before the Doha deal, a top aide to chief U.S. negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad said the agreement was not irreversible, and 'there is no obligation for the United States to withdraw troops if the Afghan parties are unable to reach agreement or if the Taliban show bad faith' during negotiations."

Hume noted: "The president is fond of saying, 'Well, we were bound by the Trump administration's deal with the Taliban.' In fact, when that deal was struck in February 2020 [our negotiators] made it very clear that this was conditions-based and if the Taliban did not [meet those conditions] we were under no obligation to remove our troops. One of the key provisions of that deal was that the Taliban and the Afghan government would negotiate a [peace agreement]. They never did that."

Hume concludes, "On that score alone, Biden was not obligated to pull our troops out."

In one particularly devastating summation, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) made clear who failed: "The President made the decision to trust the Taliban. The President made the decision to set an arbitrary August 31st deadline. The President made the decision to abandon Bagram Air Base. The President made the decision not to expand the perimeter around Karzai International Airport. The President made the decision to undermine our NATO allies. The President made the decision to break our word to our Afghan partners. The President made the decision to tell one lie after another as the crisis unfolded. The President made the morally indefensible decision to leave Americans behind. Dishonor was the President's choice. May history never forget this cowardice."

National Review's senior political analyst Jim Geraghty outlined the disastrous sequence of events from Biden's claim six weeks ago: "The likelihood there's going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely." That comment sure didn't age well.

Commentator Tammy Bruce observed: "Biden says Taliban was in its strongest position ever when he came into office. ... Then how is it that he insisted just a few weeks ago that the Taliban we're not going to take over the country?"

Barack Obama's former senior adviser, David Axelrod, concluded: "You cannot defend the execution here. This has been a disaster. ... It is heartbreaking, it is depressing, and it's a failure. And he needs to own that failure." (Recall that during last year's Demo primary, Obama said, "Don't underestimate Joe's ability to f—k things up.")

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich observed: "We have not seen a president this incompetent. We haven't seen a president surrender to an enemy in the way that Joe Biden has. And he's allowed a seventh-century tribal group to defeat the most powerful country in the 21st century. It's an astonishing outcome."

Fact is, Trump was this nation's strongest domestic and foreign policy leader in decades.

Anyone — ANYONE — who believes that the resurgence of the Taliban and their ISK and al-Qa'ida thugs would have occurred under a second Trump term is so deeply deluded as to be in a state of complete denial.

When Trump left office, we had about 3,000 troops left in AFG. There had not been a military death in over a year until last week, when 13 Americans were murdered — the worst loss of American lives in a decade.

For context, the U.S. has about 750 military base sites in almost 80 countries. We have almost 54,000 personnel in Japan and 26,000 in South Korea. In Europe we have 35,000 Americans in Germany, 13,000 in Italy, and 9,000 in the UK. In the Middle East, we have 4,000 personnel in Bahrain, 1,800 in Turkey, 1,500 in Saudi Arabia, and 1,100 in Kuwait.

But only one country has sponsored a terrorist attack on U.S. soil, and that was AFG. Trump's conditions for removing most of our remaining military personnel from that nation was a good plan. Then Joe Biden happened.

Given the resurgence of the Taliban, there is now a very real renewed threat of terrorist assaults on American soil and Americans abroad. Recall that Biden's director of national intelligence warned him in April that the Taliban rise would result in an imminent and perilous threat to the continental U.S.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was clear about the looming national security threat. He noted, "This is one of the worst foreign policy decisions in American history, much worse than Saigon," because the withdrawal from Vietnam did not signal a significant threat to Americans. To that point, he added: "Just because we decided to stop fighting doesn't mean the terrorists go away. So they're still out there. They're invigorated. They're emboldened. They're excited about the success they see in bringing America to its knees in Afghanistan."

Former Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton was very clear about that threat: "This was a known. By canceling the insurance policy of having American and NATO forces fighting the terrorist ... in Afghanistan, made it less likely we would have to fight them in the streets and skies over America. What has happened here is seen as a Taliban victory over the United States ... and has given terrorists all over the Middle East a huge psychological boost. ... There are many reports of foreign terrorist fighters already coming into Afghanistan ... and we are going back to the pre-9/11 environment."

So we leave the AFG theater after two decades with the Taliban thugs in a much more powerful position than when we arrived in 2001. In great measure, they are far more dangerous and deadly because of billions of dollars in U.S. military equipment Biden left behind.

Secretary of State Tony Blinken put a smiley face on it: "A new chapter of America's engagement with Afghanistan has begun. It's one in which we will lead with our diplomacy. The military mission is over. A new diplomatic mission has begun."

Laughably, Biden's State Department spokesman issued this directive: "The Taliban needs to meet its commitments and obligations in Afghanistan on freedom of travel, respecting basic rights of the people, upholding its commitments on counterterrorism, not carrying out reprisal violence against those who stayed, and forming an inclusive government."

Or what?

Biden's ineptitude, and that of his feckless administration, is epic, reckless, and deadly.

As I outlined previously:

  1. The intermediate concern of Biden's failure is the consequences for tens of thousands of Afghan allies, civilians, and families whom Biden abandoned. As the Taliban firms up its organizational structure and returns to its extremist tyrannical control, the bloody purges will be underway.

  2. The extended concerns are that Biden has reseeded the al-Qa'ida and [ISIL](https://patriotpost.us/alexander/38936] turf, putting the U.S. homeland at risk of another terrorist attack.

  3. The consequences of Biden's now-obvious failure as commander-in-chief have immediate and dire implications for our national security that extend far beyond the borders of Afghanistan. Biden's AFG retreat will embolden far more powerful tyrants, notably our near-peer adversaries China and Russia, and of course Iran and North Korea are on the move.

Power does not tolerate a vacuum.

The catastrophic failure of our AFG mission and retreat was certainly not because of any deficit of courage and commitment from our warfighters, but abject dereliction of duty by Biden's senior military leaders.

But the buck stops with Biden. The catastrophe in AFG was not, first and foremost, the plan; it was the man. The Taliban, ISK, ISIL, and al-Qa'ida all feared Trump — none fear Biden. But even most of Biden's conservative media critics have yet to wake up to that reality as they keep focusing on his failed plan.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley just couldn't figure this out: "There was nothing that I or anyone else saw that indicated a collapse of this army and this government in 11 days."

However, what Milley, SecDef Lloyd Austin, and the rest of Biden's Beltway high command failed to see was the red flag right in front of them the whole time: Joe Biden. And it is because the Taliban had no fear of Biden that this evil overran the Afghan government and its people in just days. Again, with Trump gone, the Taliban summarily discarded all the conditions he set for withdrawal and ousted the Afghan government.

Back in 2010, even Osama bin Laden declared that then-VP Biden should not be targeted, because if he became president, he would "lead the US into a crisis."

For Biden's boundless ineptitude, we will pay a price much higher than the disaster we left in Afghanistan.

Last week, before the Kabul bombing, our national security analyst, Gen. B.B. Bell (USA, Ret.), strongly condemned Biden's disgraceful exit from AFG, noting his "shameful presidential dereliction of duty" and declaring emphatically that not only should Biden's military leaders resign, but also: "He should be impeached and removed from office immediately, and criminal charges should be considered." That clarion call is even louder now.

Finally, amid all the exit fanfare from feckless Joe Biden and his inept senior military and diplomatic cadres, I was deeply moved by a single sentence that sums up what was conceived as an orderly troop drawdown under Donald Trump, but devolved into a disgraceful and deadly retreat by Biden.

"In what f***ing world was it a good idea to just hand over a country to these people?" Those words were from Operation Enduring Freedom combat veteran and former Navy SEAL Dan Crenshaw (R-TX).

Crenshaw and many other AFG war veterans are deeply concerned about the fate of Afghan security force allies with whom they worked. The Taliban has been brutal in its slaughter of those allies, thousands of civilians. and journalists as they advanced to Kabul.

The purge has just begun.

Notably, a few days ago when Crenshaw and other congressional veterans attempted to name, on the congressional floor, their 13 military brothers and sisters, they were blocked by Democrats.

Combat veteran Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL), who was severely wounded in AFG, protested: "We took a moment of silence with pretty much all Republican veterans, then asked to be recognized to read names [of those killed]. [Democrat leaders] did not acknowledge us, and just closed the House down." Combat veteran Greg Steube (R-FL) also protested: "House Democrats just refused to recognize Republican veterans on the House Floor to read the names of our fallen service members in Afghanistan. That's how far our nation has fallen."

Finally, let me emphasize that the objective of Biden's compressed Afghan exit schedule has been, for months, to time the exit in order to provide him a political "I got the troops out" victory lap ahead of the 20th observance of the 9/11 Islamist attack on our nation.

There will be NO victory lap.

There WILL be more Islamist attacks against the U.S. and our people and installations abroad.

The Taliban will celebrate 9/11 in our abandoned Kabul embassy.

Brace yourself, America. ESR

Mark Alexander is the executive editor of the Patriot Post.




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