Caroline Glick’s column about the Afghanistan debacle is worth reading in full. I want to focus this post on Glick’s discussion of Joe Biden’s attempt to place the blame for the fiasco on (1) Donald Trump and (2) the Afghans.
Of Trump, Glick writes:
Biden’s accusation that the Trump administration is responsible for the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan is wrong on several counts. As former president Donald Trump and his secretary of state Mike Pompeo explained on Sunday and Monday, the agreement Trump reached with the Taliban was conditions based. Since the Taliban breached the conditions, there is little reason to believe that Trump would have implemented the troop pullout.
Glick bolsters her view of what Trump would have done by pinpointing a major difference between the former president and the current one — a difference I flagged here. Biden doesn’t listen. He forms his views in knee-jerk fashion and, and with a self-confidence that is wholly unjustified, clings to them no matter what he’s told.
Trump may share the former trait, but he’s willing to listen and moderate:
In a conversation with Israel Hayom, a former senior Trump administration official noted. . .that unlike Biden, Trump was willing to listen to argument, and change his positions to align them with the situation on the ground when necessary.
“After Trump ordered the removal of all U.S. forces from Syria in 2018, several people from both inside and outside the administration warned him that a full withdrawal would be dangerous. So he changed his plans. He withdrew most of the U.S. forces but left a few hundred in key locations and gave them the wherewithal to secure U.S. goals in the country.”
By the same token, the official argued, Trump would likely have kept a residual force in Afghanistan.
Indeed, that was the only force that remained in Afghanistan. And just as a skeletal U.S. footprint in Syria suffices to secure U.S. interests in the country, so the 2,500 non-combatant U.S. forces Biden removed from the country were able to work with Afghan and NATO forces to keep Afghanistan stable and keep the Taliban at bay.
The last point is key. Our mission in Afghanistan wasn’t “doomed from the start.” It wasn’t doomed in 2020. It was doomed only once Joe Biden became president.
(To be clear, I don’t contend that Afghanistan was stable in any strong sense. Had we remained, there would have been ups and downs, and certainly no guarantee that we could have kept the Taliban at bay indefinitely with only 2,500 troops and virtually no American deaths. But we kept it at bay for more than five years while sustaining only about 15 deaths per year on average. So we knew how to preserve the stalemate without much loss of American life.)
Glick goes on to demolish Biden’s lazy claim that the Afghans were unwilling to defend their country.
Over the past 20 years, 2,448 U.S. servicemen and women were killed in Afghanistan. Over the same period, 69,000 Afghan forces died defending their country from the Taliban. [Biden’s] statement amounted to malicious slander.
One of the main functions of the U.S. forces and contractors Biden removed was to serve as military air traffic controllers for Afghan forces. Their departure meant the Afghan military lost its close air support. And since the U.S. built the Afghan military as its mini-me, like the U.S. forces, Afghan forces were dependent on close air support to conduct land operations.
In other words, Biden is more responsible than anyone else for the Afghans’ post-American collapse. If he expected them to fight, he shouldn’t have left them dependent on U.S. traffic controllers which he withdrew without coordination or warning of any kind.
But Biden refuses to accept that responsibility. Worse, he keeps saying “the buck stops here,” even as he tries to pass it off — to Trump, to the Afghans, to the intelligence community.
Disgusting, but entirely in character.