In all my lifetime, I have never witnessed such an unparalleled, shameful, disgraceful, embarrassing, and reckless foreign policy disaster as the execution of President Biden’s evacuation from Afghanistan. There are not enough superlatives to express how damaging and awful this situation is. In President Biden’s press conference today, he mumbled through his opening minutes, told several blatant lies, appeared distracted and mentally exhausted, and was unconvincing when reassuring America that every American would be brought home, no matter what the cost. As a former Marine, the last week’s complete and utter lack of leadership and horrendous decision-making have reinforced two things: 1) President Biden is unfit both physically and mentally to serve as president; and 2) President Biden is undeserving to lead as commander-in-chief.
Unless you live in the State of Denial, don’t watch TV, and don’t have the internet (in which case, you’re probably not reading this column), there is something obviously wrong with President Biden. Whether it’s his age, an undisclosed medical condition, or exhaustion (although I doubt this, as he only works a few hours a day), I have no idea. I’m not a doctor, and I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. But I do know that if I were a reporter, I’d be pressing the White House as to whether there is something wrong with the president that they aren’t telling us because it is not normal to fumble answers regularly, forget things said weeks ago, appear this agitated and discombobulated, and freeze mid-sentence. Apparently, his interview with ABC was so bad that they won’t run the entire thing. One word-salad answer he gave made Donald Trump seem like Winston Churchill when it came to oration. What makes it worse and adds fuel to the conspiracy theory fires is that the White House seems to be hiding him from the public at all costs. And when he does emerge from his safe space, he doesn’t answer questions and shuffles away faster than a zombie in The Walking Dead. And if he does answer questions, they’re scripted and written on cue cards for him to try and utilize, which doesn’t seem to help. All of this is behavior unbecoming of a president in the middle of the greatest foreign policy disaster in decades, maybe even modern times.
But what’s even worse than his physical and mental condition is his apparent abrogation of the single most important responsibility any president has – protecting American citizens, both at home and abroad. The fact that it took this long for President Biden to state he would bring home every American is stunning in itself, but it’s even harder to believe him as he uttered several blatant lies in the same press conference (e.g., no presence of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, no instances of Americans not making it through Taliban checkpoints to the airport).
There is one fundamental principle every nation on this earth knows – America leaves no one behind. It’s been that way for decades. It’s emblazoned on my soul as a former Marine officer. US servicemen and women died in Iraq because of it, often while trying to help another wounded soldier, sailor, airmen, or Marine. And yet in the last week, President Biden has taken that principle and thrown it in the trash, emboldening our enemies and angering our allies (another lie he told today). Thousands of Americans are hiding in fear as I write this, justifiably unsure if they’re going to make it to the airport safely. The feckless State Department, the agency responsible for tracking US citizens abroad, has failed them, and they have every right to be concerned.
The situation in Kabul and larger Afghanistan is horrific, but it doesn’t have to be this way. We are the most powerful nation on the planet. Our military has the will to fight and do its job when called upon, but our leaders have to have the will to act decisively. And that is something they have all failed to do this week, from the president to the secretary of defense to the secretary of state, and Americans are in danger because of it. We could take Bagram back and also go into the city of Kabul – the way our allies have – to rescue Americans if they so ordered it, but whether they have the will remains the question.
Leading any group of servicemembers is a privilege. I had that privilege once. I made mistakes, and I learned from them, often harshly. But when you are the president of the United States and you refuse to learn from those mistakes and you continue to make decisions that put American lives at risk, you should no longer be the commander-in-chief. It’s a privilege that comes with being elected to office, but it’s not a right that can be taken for granted. Our American citizens are still in peril, but there is still time to save them. Do your job, Mr. President, or step aside.
Matthew Betley is a former Marine officer, a recovering alcoholic, an advocate for victims of toxic exposure to Burn Pits, and a political action thriller author. His latest thriller, AMIRA, is out now, and THE NEIGHBORHOOD is coming in August 2022. Follow him on Twitter at @MatthewBetley or find him on Facebook or Instagram.