With President Biden ordering a complete U.S. retreat last summer, Afghanistan became ground zero of the worst American foreign policy debacle in generations. The whole country watched in horror as videos and photos displayed the desperation of Afghan allies and American citizens to get out of Afghanistan before the “deadline.”
Everyone loves the party game “Two Truths and a Lie.” Can you identify which of the three following statements about the Afghanistan withdrawal and its ramifications is a lie?
A. America’s humiliation in Afghanistan sends a signal of weakness and bad faith.
B. The Biden administration has taken responsibility for the messy withdrawal.
C. Hostile regimes are moving to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by the U.S. evacuation.
A. TRUE! President Biden can boast (and does) that he ended the U.S. military engagement in Afghanistan, but he did so at an immense human cost to Afghans who had placed their trust in America, and a staggering strategic cost to America’s credibility and power of deterrence. Not only did he betray our Afghan allies, but Biden failed to consult allied forces who still had some 7,500 of their own service members in the country.
The ramifications of this helter-skelter exit are huge and grim; discouraging to our allies, and emboldening to our enemies.
B. FALSE! The Biden administration has worked tirelessly to duck responsibility for the catastrophe in Afghanistan, with a welter of falsehoods, distractions, and self-congratulatory messaging. These include disparaging comments on the courage of the Afghan army, saying they had no will to fight, while in truth more than 66,000 Afghans died fighting the Taliban and other insurgents. Biden also said repeatedly that he would leave no one behind in Afghanistan, including a promise on August 19 that if any American citizens were still on the ground by his August 31 exit deadline (which the Taliban then appropriated as their deadline), “we’re gonna stay to get them all out.” As every American should be well aware, there are still many American citizens stranded in Afghanistan. Private groups are working hard to get these individuals to safety, without help from the Biden administration. While more than 800 Americans have escaped over the past year, likely more remain trapped in Afghanistan.
Overall, this denial of responsibility displays weak leadership and breaks faith with the basic integrity needed of government in a free and democratic society.
C. TRUE! The humiliating American exit from Afghanistan almost certainly emboldened Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has paved the way for worse trouble ahead, including a likely surge in terrorist attacks on America and our allies. There is a rising probability of outright war in other theaters. China and its despotic partners are seeking to replace the post-World War II Pax Americana with a much darker 21st-century world order, molded to their advantage. Even before the debacle in Afghanistan, worldwide threats to America were on the rise. In an August 31 speech titled “on the End of the War in Afghanistan,” Biden himself outlined some of the chief dangers: “We’re engaged in a serious competition with China. We’re dealing with the challenges on multiple fronts from Russia. We’re confronted with cyberattacks and nuclear proliferation.”
Far from deterring these threats, Biden’s self-inflicted calamity in Afghanistan has fueled them. China, above all, has been gloating over America’s defeat and is already eyeing its next potential conquests, most notably Taiwan. In a statement mixing the usual propaganda with unfortunately rational inference, the Chinese Communist Party’s Global Times wrote, the “U.S. will abandon Taiwan in a crisis.”
Bottom line: While Biden says he has ended America’s “forever war” in Afghanistan, and tries to change the subject to climate and blowout spending, the catastrophe in Afghanistan has set the stage for big trouble ahead. Clawing back America’s credibility, global standing and vital powers of deterrence is going to need depth of vision and strength of will on a scale to date not visible in the Biden White House.