As Robert Gates, who served as the Obama-Biden administration’s defense secretary warned us in his memoir, Joe Biden has "been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades."
Recall, for example, that Biden originally opposed the Persian Gulf War (later, reversing his decision and saying George H.W. Bush should have gone all the way to Baghdad) and supported the Iraq War, and as vice president he argued against the raid that killed Osama bin Laden which he frequently cites as the Obama administration’s sentinel foreign policy achievement.
Asked on July 8 if there is a comparison between the U.S. withdrawal in Kabul and the flight from Saigon in 1975, President and Commander in Chief Biden responded ''None whatsoever. Zero.''
Biden said that they’re not remotely comparable: ''There’s going to be no circumstance where you’re going to see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy'' in Afghanistan.
Briefly fast forward to August 15.
An Epic Human Afghan Tragedy
Witness the ironic grim spectacle on that day of Old Glory being lowered at the American Embassy at Kabul less than three months after the Biden State Department had authorized all U.S. embassies to fly Black Lives Matter and multicolored rainbow LGBTQ Pride flags showcasing support for human rights.
By that time, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani had fled the country, reportedly having taken an hour-long flight to Tajikistan en route to Oman.
As embassy staff worked frantically to burn classified documents, helicopters very much like those in Saigon ferried ranking officials and families to the military side of the Kabul airport to be safely sequestered until they could be evacuated out of the country along with other Americans with authorized exit visas.
An embassy website statement urged other Americans, spouses, and children to ''shelter in place'' and fill in online applications for permission to board an evacuation flight. And as in Saigon, thousands of Afghan U.S. and NATO interpreters — along with their families — who had been promised U.S. Special Immigrant Visas to leave, desperately clamored to escape certain Taliban reprisals.
Getting anywhere near the Kabul airport along traffic-crammed streets continues to be challenging and dangerous. Getting past Taliban militants who surround the perimeter is impossible. As a result, tens of thousands, including stranded Americans, attempt to hide wherever possible — waiting for help that may never come.
Earlier this week, thousands of desperate Afghans — many with spouses and toddlers —flooded the Kabul airport tarmac and obstructed taxiing aircraft in vain hopes of boarding flights out. Some who had been hopelessly clinging to military C-17 transport wheel wells were observed falling to their deaths. One was found dead on arrival.
Meanwhile, Taliban soldiers have reportedly been going door-to-door throughout the country searching for U.S. and Afghan government collaborators and special forces to take hostage or assassinate.
Taliban commanders have also reportedly demanded lists of widows and unmarried women between age 15 and 45 to be married off to their fighters.
The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan will be a huge human rights setback, and a most particularly horrific development for women.
Between 1996 and 2001 when they last held Kabul and controlled much of the country, the Taliban prevented girls from studying after puberty, prodded women into all-enveloping burqas, and prevented them from leaving home without a male chaperone.
They also murdered civil society leaders, and repurposed Kabul’s soccer stadium for public executions.
American University in Kabul recently graduated 250 students a year, 40% of them women.
An American Strategic Defense Disaster
Whereas there has been broad spread American public support for substantial troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, the recklessly ill-conceived plan of action to accomplish this purpose has proven to be an abjectly humiliating strategic disaster.
Compounding the Kabul airport chaos, the U.S. silently abandoned Afghanistan’s biggest military airfield in Bagram about an hour’s drive away without informing the base’s new Afghan commander in advance. In doing so, it gave up an important strategic base for evacuation and future intelligence gathering.
With human and technical information now gone, there is no effective way to track closely affiliated ISIS and Al Qaeda terrorist buildups that pose dangers to America.
As pointed out by retired U.S. Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, who served as White House national security adviser between 2017-18, ''Over the horizon'' methods are not nearly the same.
Gen. McMaster warns that just as that approach failed in the 1990s, it is failing again now.
He wrote in The Wall Street Journal: ''U.S. aircraft flying from the Persian Gulf to conduct sporadic air strikes can’t stop the Taliban’s onslaught. Without U.S.-enabled military pressure against terrorist organizations from bases in Afghanistan, those groups will gain the breathing space they need to plan, prepare and carry out international terror attacks.''
Our original U.S. mission in Afghanistan was to prevent al Qaeda, which has ideological and familial Taliban links, from resurrecting themselves.
It’s important to recognize that the Afghanistan-Pakistan region remains a home and activity epicenter for more than 20 U.S.-designated terrorist organizations that remain determined to murder Americans and our allies.
Thanks to American precipitous abandonment of weaponry and other equipment, those organizations are now very well armed to accomplish their deadly purposes.
As a report for the Atlantic Council earlier this year concluded, the Taliban ''sees itself as unique within the jihadist universe in having defeated the United States and forcing it to negotiate an exit.''
That ignominious show of American ineptitude and weakness will be invaluable to grow ISIS and Al Qaeda recruiting and financing.
The big global winners will be China, Russia and Iran who can say to our allies and adversaries alike, ''We told you that the U.S. is in decline and can’t be counted on.''
We can ill afford to prove them right.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture and the graduate space architecture program. His latest of 10 books, "What Makes Humans Truly Exceptional," (2021) is available on Amazon along with all others. Read Larry Bell's Reports — More Here.
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