We are so screwed.
On inauguration day, I knew a rough ride lay ahead, a path filled with the worst ideas of the left. After a half-year of Joe Biden, the Obama presidency seemed more innocuous, and the Clinton years look positively Churchillian.
Insane spending, disastrous climate extremism, heavy contributions to our cultural rot—I expected those. And I expected horrid foreign policy guidance from a team of egghead academics wholly unappreciative of the toughness needed to position America in a dangerous world.
But this Afghan disaster is something I rarely experience: a surprise.
The exit decision was not a surprise. Donald Trump had blazed the trail for an Afghan withdrawal, and a continuation was to be expected from a president from the party that has never been wholly serious about meeting the threat of global jihadist terror. But I’m not aware of anyone who said, “Tell you what I think he’s going to do; he’s going to post an arbitrary deadline, pull out the troops, and leave the country to collapse with Americans still stranded.”
But that’s what happened. And as the sun rose across America Wednesday, the urgency to get people to the Kabul airport was suddenly interrupted by the urgency to keep them away. In what may prove to be the only moment of clarity achieved by the administration since our bugout, intelligence reports revealed imminent danger from a terrorist attack. And hours later, it happened.
Thirteen American servicemembers dead, along with more than sixty Afghans in a planned sequence of bombings designed to inflict as much punishment as possible onto desperate people seeking to flee Afghanistan, and onto the forces who were there to help them.
By what twisted logic did Joe Biden agree to a plan that involved a military exit before Americans and countless supportive Afghans were safely out? Who told him this would be a good idea? Did anyone think this through? Operational planning can be complex, and often opaque to civilian analysis; but this plan screamed of danger to the most casual of observers, and to Americans across a broad political spectrum.
As the days ticked toward an entirely unachievable August 31 deadline, Democrats could be found expressing skepticism if not outright criticism. A sense of dread descended over the whole sorry circumstance, and now we will see flag-draped caskets escorted down a cargo plane ramp at Dover Air Force Base in Joe Biden’s Delaware.
This is fitting, because this is Joe Biden’s fault.
Sadly, from insignificant initiatives up to the most sweeping agenda items, one can wonder how much influence Biden actually wields. His cognitive decline is famously recognizable, leading to speculation as to who really makes day-to-day judgment calls, large and small.
No matter the answer, even a depleted president bears responsibility for what happens under his watch. This is Biden’s massacre. If he had kept even a token residual force at a functional Bagram Airfield 40 miles north of Kabul, this would not have happened.
No one could have guaranteed a smooth, casualty-free operation, but the stunning stupidity of Biden’s exit strategy was a gift to every terrorist faction in that pitiable country. So who was it? ISIS-K, the newly minted regional subset of the Islamic State? Or was it a rogue Taliban ring eager to discredit an already bumbling America?
The perps must have shivered to their sandals as a marginally alert Biden spoke to the nation hours after the attack. “We will hunt you down and make you pay,” he wheezed, after expressing empathy to the nation’s newest grieving families by linking their pain to his own with a few lines about his son Beau’s death in 2015.
But cancer killed Biden’s son. These American heroes were killed by his ineptitude.
I have no idea what price, if any, will be paid by the monsters who took advantage of Biden’s clumsy eagerness to say he ended twenty years of war in the region. But our national pain is ratcheted even higher by the sheer needlessness of this tragedy. If there is a price to be paid, it is in our own nation, and it should be paid by everyone who hatched and executed this ruinous plan.
Politicians and voters of both parties were ready to wind down our involvement in Afghanistan. But just as U.S. troops are a constant stabilizing statement from Germany to South Korea, a unit at Bagram would have still enabled us to say the era of a hot, shooting war was over.
But that wasn’t enough. The Biden team was hell-bent to notch some gesture for the sake of the moment, sacrificing the most basic levels of wisdom in the process.
The result is a crushingly dark day for our nation, for our military and for our stature around the world. Please, someone tell me again how Biden’s election signaled the return of “grownups,” and how thrilled we should be that the world’s elites are relieved to be free of mean old Donald Trump.
Say what you will about Trump; we would have been counting dead terrorists by now.
Biden may make good on his halting tough-guy threat toward our attackers. If so, good. But vengeance for this horror will not erase the memory of whose tragic mistakes made it possible.