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Joe Biden and his media acolytes call him Mr. Empathy and Mr. Compassion. His Afghanistan speech yesterday told a different story and should end that phony spin forever.
My takeaway was how cold, and hard, and compassionless Biden was as he sought to extricate himself from the catastrophe of his own making. He blamed everyone but himself for his failure, starting with the Afghan army. He smarmily assured terrified Afghanis left behind he’d now speak out for their human rights instead of actually protect them. He effectively told U.S. servicemembers their service was for nothing. It was appalling. Biden came off as a man without a soul.
First, he blamed our Afghan allies for the collapse of the country, effectively calling them cowards.
American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves. We spent over a trillion dollars. We trained and equipped an Afghan military force of some 300,000 strong. Incredibly well equipped. A force larger in size than the militaries of many of our NATO allies. We gave them every tool they could need. We paid their salaries, provided for the maintenance of their air force, something the Taliban doesn’t have. Taliban does not have an air force. We provided close air support. We gave them every chance to determine their own future. What we could not provide them was the will to fight for that future.
It was some amazing chutzpah to say that, given the thousands of Afghanis who gave their lives to the conflict. He showered them with money, see, sounding like a heartless martinet father figure. But the Brookings Institution has compiled a list from 2013-2017, which is just four years of the 20-year-conflict, showing 24,000 dead. More Afghanis lost their lives fighting the Taliban over the past 20 years than Americans or allies. But to Joe, they’re just cowards glomming off the Americans and unwilling to fight. Biden continued the string of insults to people who lost thousands:
Here’s what I believe to my core: It is wrong to order American troops to step up when Afghanistan’s own armed forces would not. The political leaders of Afghanistan were unable to come together for the good of their people, unable to negotiate for the future of their country when the chips were down. They would never have done so while U.S. troops remained in Afghanistan bearing the brunt of the fighting for them.
As H.R. McMaster, former National Security Advisor to President Trump, but no Trump ally, noted in this Wall Street Journal op-ed today here — there hadn’t been a single U.S. casualty on the Afghanistan front in more than a year and a half, because the Afghanis were doing the fighting. Biden’s mendacious claim:
…insults the memory of tens of thousands of Afghans who made the ultimate sacrifice in the fight against our common enemies and underestimates the psychological blow from America’s sudden abandonment.
Worse still, McMaster notes that it was Biden who destroyed their will (emphasis mine).
On April 14, ignoring predictions of dire consequences, President Biden announced that all U.S. forces would depart by Sept. 11—20 years to the day after jihadist terrorists used their safe haven in the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan to launch the deadliest terrorist attack in history.
As U.S. forces departed, the Taliban seized the initiative and launched an offensive on Afghan cities, taking control of the large majority of provinces in 11 days. The takeovers in the north exposed the Taliban’s plan, along with al Qaeda, to isolate and overthrow the elected government in Kabul and subjugate the country under its brutal form of Shariah. The fall of Kandahar on Thursday gave the Taliban a major symbolic victory in the ideological center of the antimodernist and misogynist movement. The fall of Ghazni, Laghman, Logar, and Paktia provinces on Kabul’s doorstep enabled the disaster we are now seeing in the capital.
Biden was the guy who demoralized the Afghan army. in handing the Taliban a handy schedule so they could focus and strategize. But that was hardly all.
In the previous year, the U.S. pressured the Afghan government to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners. Supposedly, that was a peace offering. Actually, that was like releasing Gitmo terrorists onto U.S. soil to make the terrorists like us. The unjailed terrorists did what in jailed terrorists do, and joined the Taliban as reinforcements for their final battle. That ought to have been a real morale-builder to the Afghani army seeing the 60,000-strong enemy get 5,000 fresh recruits.
Joe then kept on sending the signals to them, all the way to the bitter end.
According to this Wall Street Journal editorial:
As the Taliban closed in on Kabul, Mr. Biden sent a confirmation of U.S. abandonment that absolved himself of responsibility, deflected blame to his predecessor, and more or less invited the Taliban to take over the country.
With that statement of capitulation, the Afghan military’s last resistance collapsed. Taliban fighters captured Kabul, and President Ashraf Ghani fled the country while the U.S. frantically tried to evacuate Americans.
So he demoralized them up to the last hour, effectively calling them worthless, instead of encouraging them to fight for their country to the death.
While there was an Afghan military collapse in critical parts, it’s also apparently not everywhere — in the north, they’re still resisting. Another problem is that the Afghan army was no longer being paid by the U.S. It was being paid by corrupt elements within the Afghan leadership. There were Twitter reports of soldiers not having been paid in months. If true, that would have had an effect on morale. Who set the pay situation up like that without fiscal safeguards as the transition went through? Again, Joe Biden. In his speech, he coldly claims the U.S. was paying them, and apparently, they were not.
Sound like a fine way to treat an ally? It sounds like Biden hated them.
Biden then went on to offer cold comfort to Afghanistan’s terrified people:
We will continue to support the Afghan people. We will lead with our diplomacy, our international influence, and our humanitarian aid. We’ll continue to push for regional diplomacy and engagement to prevent violence and instability. We’ll continue to speak out for the basic rights of the Afghan people, of women and girls, just as we speak out all over the world.
I’ve been clear, the human rights must be the center of our foreign policy, not the periphery. But the way to do it is not through endless military deployments. It’s with our diplomacy, our economic tools, and rallying the world to join us.
These people are so terrified of the Taliban they’re clinging to aircraft tires as they lift off. A stern warning from Joe to the Taliban, which is engaging in beheadings and hangings and house-to-house searches for collaborators? A Taliban that is reportedly getting the execution stadiums ready in Kabul? Sure, a warning from Joe, that’ll scare ’em straight. It’s beyond insulting, and inhuman as hell, from a creep who claims ‘human rights must be the center of our foreign policy.’ Who believes that after Joe’s kind of exit?
Probably worst of all though was the pain he caused to America’s veterans, telling them their service and sacrifices were for nothing.
I cannot and will not ask our troops to fight on endlessly in another country’s civil war, taking casualties, suffering life-shattering injuries, leaving families broken by grief and loss. This is not in our national security interest. It is not what the American people want. It is not what our troops who have sacrificed so much over the past two decades deserve. I made a commitment to the American people when I ran for president that I would bring America’s military involvement in Afghanistan to an end. While it’s been hard and messy and, yes, far from perfect, I’ve honored that commitment.
So what about the troops who did serve and sacrifice? The Taliban takeover is their reward,. All of their lost limbs, PTSD, broken relationships, wounds, hospitalizations, and deaths, were for nothing, now that the Taliban is dancing around at the presidential palace and getting ready to fly its flag over the U.S. embassy. Biden claims their reward should be that no other U.S, troops should ever be forced into this worthless war again, despite the fact that Kabul was a liveable place. He opines, insultingly that “no amount of boots on the ground” could make a difference in Afghanistan, despite the fact that it did, pretty well falsely claiming the U.S. military were somehow incompetent against “history” as Joe claimed. He ignored the fact that the small U.S. military presence, before the sudden pullout, had zero U.S. casualties on more than a year and a half as McMasters noted. The troops, who are aching after that stab in the back from America’s leadership, have lots to say about that on Twitter. More insulting still, Joe claims that it’s “personal” for him, comparing their services and sacrifices on the sharp end in previous years, with his four congressional visits to the country. All the same, right, Joe, defending Kandahar from a machine gun nest and going on a cossetted CODEL where Joe was treated like a VIP. It doesn’t get more disgusting than this.
What we have here is Joe in his true colors, his meanness, his coldness, his absence of empathy for anyone but himself. He’s Scrooge-like in his contempt for our allies. He’s a snake oil salesman in his promises to the terrified. He’s Babbitt-like. He’s every grotesque literary image — Dickensian villain, Conradian villain, Dostoyevskiian villain in his general contempt for the past sacrifices of the troops. This is far from the only thing wrong with his speech, but it certainly stood out.
After that, as Americans and Afghans remained stranded at the Kabul airport and beyond … he went back to his vacation.