A bombshell review into the withdrawal from Kabul is a serious indictment on the Biden administration, beginning and ending with the US President, writes Professor Joseph M. Siracusa.
I would like to belabour the obvious.
Joe Biden is unfit to hold high office.
Setting aside his obvious cognitive difficulties, Biden’s foreign policy failures alone, beginning with the botched exit from Afghanistan (about which more) and ending with the proxy war with Russia, should make clear beyond all doubt that he has no further business in the Oval Office.
As domestic leader, the president of the US can make all the mistakes they want. And they do.
As commander-in-chief and leader of the “Free World”, the president is not allowed the luxury of mistakes.
Lives depend on it.
Another time, another exit
Despite burgeoning political problems, including Watergate, President Richard Nixon, together with his sidekick Henry Kissinger, managed to travel to communist China, to take Taiwan off the table for a generation, while also travelling to Soviet Russia, to conclude novel pathways to nuclear non-proliferation, including the landmark ABM and SALT treaties.
Nixon’s other problem was getting out of the Vietnam War with a semblance of honour.
This is Washington speak for cutting one’s losses.
Within the US, the needed national consensus, favouring compromise or victory, remained elusive.
The reason is clear: those policies had been anchored to words and emotions, to high promises of success and dire warnings of the consequences of just such a failure, and not to a body of easily recognisable circumstances that carried their own conviction and recommended their own response.
It was not strange that the country was divided sharply between those who took the words and admonitions of the White House seriously and those who did not.
Besides, Nixon correctly recognised that Hanoi would regard any agreement as a scrap of paper.
Still, from the Nixon Doctrine (you do the fighting), with its corollary Vietnamization (we provide the arms), to the end of his presidency, there is no evidence Nixon was simply prepared to abandon South Vietnam – as abandoned it was by the Ford administration in April 1975.
Fast forward to the Kabul evacuation.
The review everyone was waiting for
On late Friday afternoon, just before the long July 4 weekend, the Department of State published its long-delayed, much redacted review of the August 2021 US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
State’s ‘Afghanistan After Action Review’ generally looked at the fall of Kabul to the Taliban and the end of America’s 20-year presence in Afghanistan.
It focused on the ending of the US military mission in Afghanistan from January 2020, which, for no particular reason, put Trump in the frame, to August 2021, in which Joe Biden stood alone.
I can easily see why the State Department took so long to release the review and why they hoped to bury it before a long weekend holiday.
The result is an indictment of the Biden administration, beginning and ending with Biden.
If these conclusions were handed down by a grand jury, President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken would be looking down the barrel of criminal indictments.
If handed down by a military tribunal – and wearing the uniform – both could look forward to a court martial and a lengthy stay in Fort Leavenworth.
What were the charges made?
Dereliction of duty
First, and most important, the review found that the Biden administration demonstrated “insufficient senior level consideration of worst-case scenarios and how quickly those might follow”.
In short, dereliction of duty.
Second, after the Trump administration left office, key questions among Biden officials “remained unanswered about how the US would meet the May 2021 deadline for a full military withdrawal”.
And even then, the speed of Biden’s new September 11 deadline compounded the difficulties State faced in mitigating the loss of the military’s key enablers: “Critically, the decision to hand over Bagram Air Base to the Afghan government (every piece of which soon fell into the hands of the Taliban) meant that Hamid Karzai international airport would be the only avenue for a possible non-combatant evacuation operation.”
In short, dereliction of duty.
And third, senior Biden administration officials “had not made clear decisions regarding the universe of at-risk Afghans who would be included by the time the operation started.”
In short, indifference to life.
With the sudden collapse of the Ghani government and the Taliban’s unopposed entry into Kabul on August 15, 2021, the lack of planning was evident, the writing on the wall for all to see.
In the phase that followed, 13 US military lost their lives, while 125,000 people, including 6,000 US private citizens were evacuated.
The costs were incalculable: thousands of Afghan friendlies were left behind, along with the 20 million Afghan women and girls abandoned to the mercies of the Taliban Sharia Laws.
These were the same women and girls who for twenty years had been nurtured and educated by America to take their rightful place in society. We’re talking about parliamentarians, doctors, lawyers, judges, and cops.
And the rest of it.
Over 20 years, the US spent $2.3 trillion on the war, while probably abandoning another trillion in equipment and infrastructure in its hasty retreat.
But that’s just treasure. What about blood?
There were 2,402 US military deaths in Afghanistan, with an additional 20,713 wounded.
Further, there were 1,822 US civilian contractors killed.
Joe Biden has a lot to answer for.
Source: Sky News