Say this much for Jimmy Carter: it took him more than three years for his presidency to implode completely. By the end of 1979, we had high inflation, an energy crisis, American hostages in Iran, and a geopolitical rival that held us in contempt, and thought it has the wind of history at its back.
It’s only taken Joe Biden about six months to arrive at a comparable destination. Let’s just take the Afghan disaster for the moment. If we escape having American prisoners in Afghanistan, it will only be because we’ve completely bugged out of the place. Which seems to be in progress right now. USA Today:
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul has directed its staff to destroy sensitive documents as well as other material that could be used as propaganda, according to CNN and other media outlets.
The missive comes amid a Taliban onslaught that threatened to topple the government. It also comes one day after the Pentagon announced it is sending 3,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan to evacuate some U.S. embassy personnel from Kabul, leaving only “a core diplomatic presence” in the country.
A “core diplomatic presence”? Sounds more like “potential hostages” to me. Incidentally, there’s a clue here to the larger story of American incompetence in Afghanistan over these past 20 years. According to the Wall Street Journal, “about 5,000 civilians and military personnel are based at the embassy and Hamid Karzai International Airport.” 5,000? Five thousand?!? Although many are no doubt Afghans and civilians from other countries (I wonder if they will all be offered asylum in the U.S.?), just what are 5,000 people accomplishing at the American embassy? Only the American military-diplomatic complex can come up with plans that keep 5,000 people busy to little lasting effect.
I don’t entirely blame Biden for the shocking collapse of Afghanistan. I’ve been saying for a long time, along with John, that the time had come for us to get out. If the country can’t stand on its own for even a few weeks, what would another five years—and 5,000 more embassy staff—hope to accomplish? Why hasn’t the U.S. ever recruited neighboring nations in the region to step up and help stabilize the place? (Maybe because they are backing the Taliban? They must be getting funds and weapons somewhere—aside from discarded American vehicles and weapons, that is). Above all, there has been a complete failure of our military bureaucracy to come up with a serious strategy to defeat the Taliban, and/or our political class, in administrations of both parties, was unwilling to confront the real cost of doing so. At least the Pentagon is finally getting “diversity and inclusion” right.
It would help if the Biden Administration wasn’t going out of its way to sound stupid. Asking the Taliban to engage in diplomacy, when their character and intentions are completely clear, is the kind of pathetic bleating you expect from John Kerry. But Jen Psaki takes the prize with her statement yesterday, “The Taliban also has to make an assessment about what they want their role to be in the international community.”
Air power is still an option, and we are apparently making some air strikes, which seem to be having as much effect as our air strikes on North Vietnam 50 years ago. If Biden and the Pentagon decided to deploy napalm on Taliban fighters (more effective on the Afghan plains than the Southeast Asian jungle I suspect), I’d take them more seriously.