On one hand, I still can't quite believe this is what they're going with, considering how undeniably obvious the Afghanistan withdrawal disaster was. It wasn't just memorably chaotic; it was historically awful, humiliating and infuriating. To pretend that there was no chaos at all, or that the mess was somehow limited to a few unpleasant hours before an orderly process unfolded, is next-level gaslighting -- even for this crew. On the other hand, the president himself presided over this catastrophic failure in real time and had the gall to summarize it at the time as an "extraordinary success," so perhaps similarly pathetic lying almost two years later from his cronies is to be expected. In case you missed it last week, here is one of the administration's alleged adults in the room assaulting the truth and insulting Americans' collective intelligence:
John Kirby on the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan:— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) April 6, 2023
"For all this talk of chaos, I just didn't see it!" pic.twitter.com/UYOkkZubq6
The moment President Biden's job approval rating fell underwater for the first time aligns precisely with the Afghanistan disgrace playing out. It has never recovered, with Biden languishing in the mid-40's to high-30's in multiple recent polls. That's no coincidence. Americans watched national embarrassment unfolding before their eyes, and saw not only a grossly incompetent administration, but a dishonest one, too. Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg (retired) was one of the top national security officials in the Trump administration. He had a hands-on role and a front row seat in the crafting of the previous administration's Afghanistan policy. In a radio interview this week, Kellogg ripped into the White House's spin, based on their self-serving, buck-passing whitewash of a 'report,' exemplified by Kirby's remarks. He blasted their assertions as untrue, hit Kirby specifically for "disgraceful" comments, and took detailed aim at their "garbage" version of events:
Retired Lt. General who helped oversee Trump Afghanistan policy rips WH 'no chaos' spin as "disgraceful," hitting John Kirby specifically: "He’s retired admiral. He knows better." https://t.co/aHRNCg5lga— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) April 11, 2023
“I think you know, what he did was actually disgraceful. And here’s the reason I’m saying that He’s retired admiral. He knows better. I get it. When you’re a flack and you’re talking in the White House, I was there. I spent four years in the White House. I kind of know how the drill goes. But he knows better because he was a professional military officer. And that is he his comments were disgraceful. He knows exactly whats happening. You know, I’d remind him that, yeah, there was an aircraft taking off full of people. It was also people hanging on airplanes that fell off as it were taking off. And what he says about chaos, no chaos. And then his definition of chaos guy, is a lot different than my definition of chaos.“
The internet went to work on Kirby's surreal assertions late last week, dredging up Kirby's own use of the word 'chaos' during, well, the chaos -- while others shared a video mash-up of his comments against a backdrop of an infamous scene at Kabul's airport. As I noted in the segment, it wasn't just the appalling optics at that airport, the bodies plummeting from the sky, the babies being hurled over walls by desperate parents, or even the terrorist bombing that killed 13 US service members (in light of that atrocity, it's particularly grotesque that the administration is adopting the line that it is. Of course, these are the same people who then accidentally killed innocent kids in retaliation for the bombing, then admitted the error as a Friday news dump with the president on vacation). It's about the US government abandoning an entire country to a terrorist organization in a breathtakingly shoddy, naive and foolish way, leaving billions of dollars worth of American military equipment behind.
It's about stunning our closest allies ("disbelief and betrayal"), who suddenly had to scramble to save their own people from the collapsing security situation on the ground. It's about leaving thousands of Americans behind in a Taliban-controlled hell, along with tens of thousands of Afghan allies, after the president's solemn vow to get everyone out. This was not just a series of gargantuan tactical blunders and a strategic failure for the history books. It was and is a stain on our nation's conscience and reputation. It was a striking sign post of American decline. And the notion that it was all pretty terrific, and any of the minimal unpleasantness was really the fault of the previous administration, is just a slap in the face to basically everyone involved. Our memories may be short these days, but not that short. Whatever one thinks of the Trump Afghanistan policy leading up to the pullout, the final operational planning and execution fell to a new administration, which had been in place for more than half-a-year. The Commander-in-Chief who promised a stable and orderly pullout, with nobody left behind, is totally responsible for what happened.
Furthermore, the idea that Joe Biden's hands were tied by his predecessor is laughable, considering the knee-jerk manner in which the 46th president reflexively undid all manner of prior policies, including several conspicuously successful ones. I'll leave you with this flashback clip, which Joe Biden and John Kirby would certainly prefer to see memory-holed. As you watch it, ruminate on the supposedly chaos-free "extraordinary success" they like to talk about:
Thirteen more US service members were killed that day than were ever fired (zero) for the shockingly botched withdrawal.