As the crisis in Afghanistan began to unfold, President Joe Biden’s first statement made it clear where the buck stopped: with the former president.
“When I came to office, I inherited a deal cut by my predecessor — which he invited the Taliban to discuss at Camp David on the eve of 9/11 of 2019 — that left the Taliban in the strongest position militarily since 2001 and imposed a May 1, 2021 deadline on U.S. Forces,” Biden said in an Aug. 14 White House statement, referring to former President Donald Trump’s withdrawal deal.
“Shortly before he left office, he also drew U.S. Forces down to a bare minimum of 2,500. Therefore, when I became President, I faced a choice — follow through on the deal, with a brief extension to get our Forces and our allies’ Forces out safely, or ramp up our presence and send more American troops to fight once again in another country’s civil conflict.
“I was the fourth President to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan — two Republicans, two Democrats. I would not, and will not, pass this war onto a fifth.”
That attempt at a bold statement was undermined by the fact that everything he’d just said before that blamed his predecessor for the mess in Afghanistan — and this was before Kabul fell to the Taliban.
Furthermore, the withdrawal agreement Biden keeps referencing contained an out he could have used: If peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government failed, the United States wasn’t bound by it. Biden decided to withdraw anyway.
In a brutal new ad from the Republican National Committee, the committee members want to make clear that the fault lies with Joe Biden. But you needn’t believe them, they noted.
“Joe Biden is to blame for the botched Afghanistan withdrawal,” a Friday tweet read. “Don’t take it from us, take it from Obama-Biden administration officials.”
And there isn’t any shortage of them willing to opine on how the president lost Afghanistan.
Joe Biden is to blame for the botched Afghanistan withdrawal.
Don’t take it from us, take it from Obama-Biden administration officials. pic.twitter.com/MJirAO2ErY
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) August 27, 2021
These aren’t minor Obama functionaries, either. Instead, it’s a veritable murderer’s row of officials who worked in an administration where Biden was vice president — and presumably supported him last November.
First was former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson: “This Afghan government was going to collapse rapidly because of the way in which we got out.”
Then came Leon Panetta, Obama’s CIA director and secretary of state: “I think of John Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs,” he said. “It unfolded quickly, and the president thought that everything would be fine and that was not the case.”
Ryan Crocker, Obama’s ambassador to Afghanistan: “It has created a global crisis, quite frankly … how his decision was made to withdraw, but then its execution, which has been so far catastrophic.” In a separate interview: “I’m left with some grave questions in my mind about [Biden’s] ability to lead our nation as commander in chief.”
David Axelrod, one of Obama’s closest advisers: “You cannot defend the execution here. This has been a disaster.”
John Brennan — yes, even John Brennan, Biden apologist extraordinaire and former CIA director under Obama: “Well, they were clearly caught off guard by the events of the last 72 hours.”
David Petraeus, another Obama CIA director: “This is a Dunkirk moment. Or, perhaps, a Saigon moment.”
James Cunningham, another Obama Afghanistan ambassador: “This tragedy was completely preventable … the fact that there was little to no real planning done.”
And what will happen? Quoth Panetta: “They will provide a safe haven for al-Qaida.” In the same interview — which happened after a terrorist attack killed 13 of our service members — he made it clear Biden’s hard Aug. 31 withdrawal date doesn’t mean we’re done in Afghanistan militarily.
“I know we’ll be removing our troops by a certain date, but the bottom line is our work is not done,” Panetta said. “We’re going to have to go after ISIS. I’m glad the president said that we’re going to hunt them down and make them pay a price for what they did in killing our warriors and we should. We’re going to have to go back in to get ISIS.”
“We’re probably going to go have to go back in when al-Qaida resurrects itself as they will with this Taliban. They’ve gave safe haven to al-Qaida before. They’ll probably do it again.”
“So, yeah, I understand that we’re trying to get our troops out of there, but the bottom line is we can leave a battlefield but we can’t leave the war on terrorism which still is a threat to our security,” Panetta added.
“There’s no question that it’s probably Joe Biden’s worst nightmare to lose 13 Marines as a result of what’s happened here,” says former CIA director Leon Panetta of the deadly attacks in Afghanistan.
“This has to be the worst day in his administration.” pic.twitter.com/ykI8bt53De
— OutFrontCNN (@OutFrontCNN) August 26, 2021
And yet, here’s how Democrats tried to spin it.
The difference is he takes responsibility for doing his best in a bad situation, unlike the twice impeached disaster you elected.
— Bob G (@bhobski) August 27, 2021
Really, now. How is that? Biden’s response, when he can get away with it, has been some permutation of, “I cannot tell a lie: It was the other president.” Biden hasn’t been doing his best; he made a slipshod decision to get out of Afghanistan as quickly as possible without regard to conditions on the ground and hasn’t done anything to reverse his failures. And it’s nobody’s fault but someone else’s, according to Biden.
The clearest statement of what had to happen came from David Axelrod.
“It’s a failure,” Axelrod said. “And [Biden] needs to own that failure.”
Good luck with that. They’ll be blaming Trump for this until America forgets about the pictures from Afghanistan. The problem is, that’s not going to happen for a long while.
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