If Joe Biden is making any of the decisions at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, which seems more and more unlikely, he made an extraordinarily bad one on August 31. In a feeble and somewhat puzzling attempt at bringing closure to America’s 20-year Afghanistan adventure – which ultimately cost far too many lives and too much money – Mr. Biden managed to reproduce for himself former President George W. Bush’s Infamous “mission accomplished” moment, only with even less dignity and more self-delusion.
At this point, anyone who listens to Biden delivering a speech must surely be wondering whether he is under- or over-medicated. But, considering he doesn’t say anything in public that is not scripted, including answers to pre-selected questions from reporters, it is equally worth querying the mental capacity of his speechwriters. One would have thought, to begin with, that nobody who gets paid to write the words delivered publicly by a president of the United States would make the mistake of including glaring contradictions in those words.
“In April, I made a decision to end this war,” Biden said, which begs the obvious question: if the decision to end the war in Afghanistan was his, why did he continually attempt to blame his predecessor for the chaotic and tragic events that surrounded the final evacuation of Kabul? “[W]e were left with a simple decision,” he continued, just moments later, “either follow through on the commitment made by the previous 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.” The decision to end the war was his, and yet he had no choice but to follow through on a commitment made by the previous administration.
In the last seven months, this career politician and perennial Swamp-dweller who now sits behind the Resolute Desk has managed to undo, often by merely signing his name at the bottom of an executive order, so many of the policies former President Donald Trump set in motion. He has reversed both domestic and international commitments made by his predecessor and has done so proudly. But, somehow, in Afghanistan, he was powerless to do anything but stick to the plan Trump had devised – or so the American people are supposed to believe.
The blood-soaked circus Biden and his simpering military commanders created in the past few weeks bore no resemblance to Trump’s plan for withdrawal. Quite apart from that, as the leader of the free world and commander-in-chief of the most powerful military on the face of the planet, he – Joseph R. Biden – and he alone, was in a position to dictate the exact time and manner of the U.S. pullout.
Evacuation or escalation was a false choice. Extracting American troops and civilians – and their allies – from Kabul under cover of an intimidating military presence was always an option. Biden simply chose not to bother. There is no debating that fact, and this man’s attempt to shirk responsibility for the disgraceful way in which the Afghanistan withdrawal has been handled insults the American people and, specifically, the men and women who have died serving American interests, supposedly, in the U.S.’ longest and most pointless war. The extent of Biden’s callousness and utter lack of compassion is emphasized by media reports that even military service dogs were abandoned – along with perhaps as many as 200 American civilians.
Nothing else Biden said in his address is worthy of repeating or analyzing. No military commander or corporate CEO – and certainly no national leader – worth his or her salt, delivers a speech on such a monumental occasion, containing such a ridiculous and glaringly obvious contradiction. The aforementioned commander or corporate executive would be immediately dismissed for claiming that such a consequential decision was theirs and then insisting that their predecessor left them no choice. It is an attitude that smacks of apathy and detachment. Then again, coming from a man who thought it important to check his watch while the bodies of slain American service members were carried off a plane bringing them home from Afghanistan, what else could one reasonably expect?
Read more from Graham J. Noble.