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OPINION
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The Biden Administration's Shameless Aversion to Responsibility

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Manish Swarup

Just when Americans might think they’ve witnessed the worst of the Biden administration’s buck-passing unaccountability, there always seems to be a senior official waiting in the wings to one-up previous displays of shamelessness. 

This week, we got a retread of the Biden administration’s refusal to admit its withdrawal from Afghanistan — even more than 500 days later — was a botched, bloody, and embarrassing failure. If anything, our leaders’ rhetoric has only gotten worse since the chaotic days of August 2021. 

The days that preceded the supposed “completion” of President Joe Biden’s withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan after two decades of involvement — one that actually left Americans and U.S. allies behind to fend for themselves against the Taliban — were hell on earth, especially in and around Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport.  

Thirteen U.S. service members were killed in an ISIS-K suicide bombing at HKIA’s Abbey Gate. Horrific videos showed Afghan citizens falling from the landing gear of military planes as they rocketed out of Kabul. A supposedly “righteous,” as the Pentagon said, U.S. drone strike killed ten innocent civilians, including seven children. 

In the more than 500 days — 578 to be exact — since the last U.S. service member in Afghanistan climbed aboard a military transport plane and departed HKIA, the Biden administration has held no one accountable and shown zero contrition for one of President Biden’s first, and worst, failures. 

Instead, the Biden administration bragged about how it had conducted “one of the biggest airlifts in history” and called the withdrawal mission an “extraordinary success.” The shamelessness of the Biden administration — displayed by the president, Secretary of State Tony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, among others — showed what kind of leaders Biden and his lieutenants would be.

Still, America’s leaders present an unconcerned front when asked about the Afghanistan withdrawal. No admission that the withdrawal was a chaotic disaster. No regret that its haphazard security preparations, ones that relied on the “businesslike” Taliban, saw 13 American warriors killed. And no indication that the Biden administration had learned anything that might help prevent such horror from unfolding elsewhere God forbid Biden is forced to execute a similar military operation. 

The staggering lack of remorse or any appearance of accountability for those who commanded and oversaw the withdrawal from Afghanistan was on full display again on Wednesday when Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin testified before the House Armed Services Committee. 

Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) asked Austin, “Do you have regrets about the withdrawal from Afghanistan?” 

“I support the president’s decision,” the Secretary of Defense answered, attempting to avoid answering the question directly. 

“Do you have regrets about the withdrawal, or how the withdrawal occurred, that cost the lives of 13 of our service members?” Banks pressed Austin.

“I don’t have any regrets,” Austin said of the carnage that unfolded in Kabul on his and Biden’s watch. 

Calling Austin’s response “telling,” Banks asked whether there had been any accountability for anyone in the Department of Defense for the “deadly, botched, and embarrassing” withdrawal. Again, rather than answering the question, Austin tried to take another victory lap.

“Listen, our troops evacuated 124,000 people off of that airfield,” Austin answered, avoiding mentioning the 13 service members who left Kabul in body bags and the countless Americans and U.S. allies who were left behind in a Taliban hellhole. 

Banks asked Austin again whether “anyone has been held accountable” for the withdrawal to which the Secretary of Defense admitted “to my knowledge, no.”

Austin’s answers, Banks concluded, “is why this Republican majority must provide the accountability that this administration wants to sweep under the rug with what happened in Afghanistan.” Indeed. 

Amber Smith, a former Pentagon official and veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, told Townhall that Austin’s testimony was “despicable and pathetic.”

“It showed an utter disregard and disrespect for the military men and women he leads, the 13 American service members killed during the withdrawal and their Gold Star families, Afghan war veterans, and the Afghan civilian family they killed in a drone strike during the withdrawal that killed seven children and three adults,” Smith continued. 

“As horrible as his response was, I am not surprised —the military has all but collapsed under his weak leadership,” Smith said of what the Biden administration has done at the Department of Defense. “He merely said the quiet part out loud — that he doesn't care about the lives lost or the ramifications from the withdrawal, as evidenced by not a single person being held accountable for its failures,” Smith added. 

Those failures and lack of accountability for them, Smith continued, should answer questions as to “why America's youth don't want to serve in today's military.”

Austin “should never have been Secretary of Defense to begin with,” Smith added, “and since his oath of office, he has proven time and time again why.”

The Biden administration’s woeful handling of, reaction to, and narrative around its botched withdrawal from Afghanistan is only more of its usual responsibility avoiding playbook. 

It’s not just Afghanistan that Biden has refused to take blame for, despite his promises that the “buck” would always stop with him and that his administration would be transparent and accountable to the American people. 

Biden and his goons have also brushed aside any accountability for inflation, botching railroad labor union negotiations, broken supply chains, or crises at the northern and southern borders. It’s always someone else’s fault and never Biden’s. 

Perhaps that’s why Biden’s underwater favorability dipped another two points in March compared to February and independent voters are growing increasingly sour on his handling of the economy, foreign affairs, and energy policy.

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