The death of 13 American military personnel, hundreds of thousands of Afghans seeking to escape the chaos, and girls who can no longer receive an education, made CBS deem the withdrawal “one of the darkest moments of the Biden presidency to date.”
Yet the White House chose to double down on its grievous errors, declaring that Joe Biden “is very proud” of how it was carried out and insisting the evacuation was chaos free. In reality, the operation was an international catastrophe, and its consequences have been tragic.
Biden ruined much of what our military accomplished during two decades of sacrifice in Afghanistan. The Taliban’s enormous strategic victory — with more than $7 billion worth of U.S. weapons, ammunition, aircraft, materiel, and vehicles — was given to them on a silver platter. Millions of civilians have plunged into destitution thanks to Biden’s rogue move. Many Afghans, who risked their lives to assist us, were left behind to face the wrath of the Taliban.
The tumult that accompanied the haphazard retreat, with visions similar to Saigon’s fall, conveyed a message of American weakness that Vladimir Putin undoubtedly used as a red carpet to invade Ukraine a few months later.
The Afghanistan debacle properly took a toll on Biden’s popularity. He entered the White House with an approval rating above 50%, and it remained consistently positive for his first seven months in office. But after Kabul fell on Aug. 15, 2021, his approval flipped to negative, and the president has remained underwater since.
As the current administration inexplicably touts the pullout as a success, it attempts to pass the buck for what went awry to others, including intelligence and military leaders, Congress, the Afghan people, and especially former President Donald Trump. The only person absolved from culpability is Biden, depicted as some figure of great resolve, failed by his national security apparatus.
The White House argued its hands were tied because the Trump administration negotiated a withdrawal from Afghanistan yet failed to provide plans for its implementation. Despite what his allies claim, Trump’s Afghanistan policy was erratic at best, but Biden — who’s been wrong for several decades on foreign affairs — embraced a worse policy.
He could have easily tossed out Trump’s plans. After all, in the opening days of his presidency, Biden overturned dozens of Trump-era policies, including the Keystone XL Pipeline, the 2017 withdrawal from the Paris climate scam, and Biden naively restarted negotiations on the toothless Iranian nuclear deal. If you don’t reverse it, you own it, Joe.
It’s too late now for Biden to undo the humiliation, suffering, and barbarism unleashed by his abandoning Afghanistan to the Taliban. But if the president is a man of integrity, he should at least concede that he was misguided and his shambolic surrender from Kabul caused immense collateral damage.
No one enjoys admitting they’re wrong; however, other presidents have done so. Barack Obama admitted he overthrew Libyan thug Muammar Gaddafi without a plan for what followed. Ronald Reagan admitted to the nation that he wrongly traded arms for hostages during the Iran-Contra scandal. In 1998, Bill Clinton acknowledged lying about his affair with an intern. George W. Bush is famously self-deprecating.
The 80-year-old commander-in-chief should issue a mea culpa for such breathtaking dishonesty. There is zero integrity in pretending the Afghanistan fiasco was anything but a travesty. Americans know better, and they realize that Biden knows better. The White House should replace its duplicitous report with honesty.
A.J. Kaufman is a correspondent for several U.S. newspapers and magazines from Minnesota and Ohio to Tennessee and Virginia. He taught school and served as a military historian before beginning his journalism career. He is the author of three books and a frequent guest on radio programs and contributes to Israel National News and The Lid.