President Biden just delivered a speech on Afghanistan so rife with misdirection and mendacity that it’s hard to know where to start. But from the welter of Orwellian Newspeak, let’s pluck a line in which we find Biden praising himself for his handling of Afghanistan. Biden told us: “This is about America leading the world, and all our allies have agreed with that.”

If so, this is about America, under his stewardship, leading the world off a cliff.

Whatever the arguments for leaving Afghanistan or maintaining a minimal force, Biden and his advisors and planners (assuming there were any?) have delivered the worst of all worlds. Whatever the difficulties inherent in any retreat, this is a rout. The great American superpower has been chased out of its embassy, out of Kabul, out of Afghanistan, by the Taliban—who now surround the airport where Americans are fleeing for their lives, and Afghans who worked with them are begging for passage—if they can get to the airport at all.

This is a humiliating defeat, echoing way beyond Afghanistan. It is guaranteed to embolden America’s enemies and signal our allies that it is folly to trust America. China is gloating online, with propaganda organs putting out headlines such as this, from the Global Times: “U.S. will abandon Taiwan in a crisis.” Nor should we write that off as mere propaganda; there is a deeply alarming likelihood that this is exactly what Beijing, with its ringside seat (including an open embassy flying the Chinese flag in Kabul) is now calculating. Russia’s Vladimir Putin must be relishing the moment, fresh from telling Biden at a June summit that neither Russia nor China was interested in a U.S. military presence in Central Asia, once Biden completed his plans to pull out of Afghanistan. These predatory powers want America gone from their neighborhoods, and for their purposes, the more ignominious the departure, the better.

Nor is it going to reassure America’s friends and allies that Biden and his handlers are so busy trying to spin the story that they seem to have fetched up in some alternate universe. Biden began his remarks by stressing that the U.S. evacuation effort in Kabul is “one of the largest, most difficult airlifts in history.” He underscored that of all the countries in the world, only America is “capable of projecting this much power on the far side of the world with this degree of precision….” Yes indeed, America is a mighty nation, and we can be proud of the astounding abilities and courage of our armed forces.

But as Biden, or his speechwriters, formulated this praise of the military, it serves chiefly to deflect attention from the atrocious planning and strategic idiocy emanating from the office of the Commander-in-Chief (including the decision to pull out weeks ago from Afghanistan’s commodious Bagram military base, near Kabul; leaving the commercial airport as the only escape route). This is not the Berlin airlift—in which America led a defiant support of freedom. In Kabul, the American troops ordered back in by Biden to carry out the evacuation have been handed a mission that boils down to America’s self-demeaning rush for the exit. If Biden is going to tout U.S. military power, he owes us all an honest explanation of why, under his command, this nightmare scene—with its iconic image of Afghans falling to their deaths from an American Air Force jet on takeoff—turned out to be the best America could manage.

There’s plenty more, including Biden’s bizarre claim that al Qaeda is gone from Afghanistan: “What interest do we have in Afghanistan at this point with al Qaeda gone?” Though according to a report just this June by a United Nations panel of experts on these matters: “Large numbers of Al-Qaida fighters and other foreign extremist elements aligned with the Taliban are located in various parts of Afghanistan.” (These are topics on which even the UN tends to produce more reliable information than the Biden White House, which is doubly intriguing because, though we can’t tell for sure, it is quite likely U.S. intelligence that has helped inform the UN report.)

Then there’s Biden’s astounding assertion that “I have seen no question of our credibility from our allies around the world.” Perhaps someone should brief him on the fury in Britain’s parliament, summed up in a Reuters headline: “UK lawmakers condemn PM Johnson and U.S. President Biden over Afghanistan.” Or the anger of NATO members that Biden did not consult them about his plans for withdrawing from Afghanistan. For that matter, Biden and his crew would be wise to take a moment to stop the gaslighting and actually listen to the American public. For all the federally-backed crusades for American self-flagellation, there is an enormous number of Americans who prefer being proud of their country, and proud of its role as leader of the Free World. They really don’t like the Biden version of withdrawal from Afghanistan—neither the oily fictions from the White House, nor the grotesque defeat now playing out in Kabul.