U.S. President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is right to stand by his decision to end once and for all the disastrous debacle in Afghanistan, while the fake outrage and the overnight love for Afghans in American newsrooms is grossly exaggerated, misplaced and an affront to those who witnessed the real chaos of that war, including the 200,000 plus human beings who have been massacred so far during the 20-year-long calamity.
Watching television or reading news articles in the United States, it almost seems as if commentators, analysts and reporters who all forgot about the Afghanistan war for many years, are blaming the guy who is ending it more than the people who kept funding it for years, even after Osama bin Laden had been killed, even after Al-Qaeda had been greatly degraded, even as billions were going to private pockets and personal bank accounts, doing virtually nothing for ordinary Afghans, and for ordinary Americans.
It almost seems as if writers and commentators are saying that the exit from the Afghanistan debacle is more chaotic than the war itself, more chaotic than the 200,000 plus people who have been killed so far, and more chaotic than villages and towns that have been bombed so far, and more chaotic than schools and hospitals that have been shut so far, and more chaotic than the millions of people who remain displaced, including women and children, for 20 years.
President Biden is being blamed for either exiting the war too soon or not planning the exit well enough for safe evacuations. Those people argue that it’s not about exiting the war, but how the exit was planned and carried out.
That argument is extremely hypocritical as it seems to suggest that Mr. Biden was clearly told Afghanistan will fall to the Taliban within days and that the Afghan forces will simply evaporate, handing over towns after towns to the Taliban. The argument also suggests that President Biden knew the President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani would flee the country without any fight or resistance.
The media seem to be pushing the narrative that intelligence was clear and the President ignored it, when actually intelligence is as broad as the various sources you speak with. It is never one thing. It’s many scenarios and the president chooses the broad consensus.
More disturbing, is the claim that evacuation is so slow under President Biden when actually the previous administration completely stopped interviewing Afghans in March of 2020, citing COVID-19 as an excuse, when in reality, interviews could have been done virtually for one year.
That argument also ignores the fact that the Biden administration has even sped up the process, 100 times faster, has interviewed more people and granted visas to more Afghans in seven months than the Trump administration did in four years.
That argument also ignores the chaotic transition of power in the United States that ended with a coup attempt and the storming of the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump domestic terrorists.
Americans talk about the ‘chaos’ in Afghanistan when the real ‘chaos’ was the failure of the previous administration to allow a peaceful transition of power, even as the country battled an economic crisis and a deadly pandemic that has killed more than 600,000 Americans.
The Trump administration delayed the transition of power even after Trump himself set May 1 deadline for the full exit from Afghanistan, this even, as Afghans were not being interviewed for visas. It seems the plan was to abandon them and blame COVID-19. This is evidenced by the fact that Trump officials are claiming on Fox News that there was no promise made to Afghans who helped the United States and they should not come to the United States.
Trump himself has also joined the critics, blasting Biden and pretending to love Afghans and to have had a better plan for the evacuation, when actually it is clear he had none.
For many people abroad, if there’s anything that has tarnished the reputation of the United States more than anything else, it is not the scenes in Afghanistan but the disastrous January 6 coup attempt inside the United States itself.
It is Americans bringing bombs near the Capitol and trying to hang Vice President Mike Pence, and assassinate the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.
President Biden was right on Sunday when he said his administration may extend his August 31 deadline for removing all American troops from Afghanistan to evacuate Americans and all other allies who helped the United States, as well as at-risk Afghans who may be targeted because of their beliefs, vocations or simply because of who they are.
“We will welcome these Afghans who have helped us in the war effort over the last 20 years to their new home in the United States of America,” the president said Sunday afternoon in remarks from the Roosevelt Room at the White House. “Because that’s who we are. That’s what America is.”
So far, the U.S. military has evacuated 28,000 people since August 14 when the Taliban reached Kabul, and the military has expanded the secure perimeter around the airport.
That should remain Mr. Biden’s focus and he should not be distracted by those who want him to focus on the blame game and thereby endanger the troops carrying out difficult and dangerous evacuations that could get complicated at any moment.
The time for pointing fingers at culprits, including in the media, who completely missed the warning signs but are now lecturing with their keyboards, will certainly come. However, for now, getting people to safety should dominate the conversation and not the blame game.