Seven months after President Joe Biden took office, an estimated 15,000 Americans — potential hostages — are now stranded throughout Afghanistan at the mercy of Taliban forces with no U.S. government plan nor means to get them to the only remaining open airfield in Kabul for evacuation.
Many thousands of native interpreters and others found by the Taliban to have supported American or former Afghan government interests are subject to terrible reprisals … beatings and worse.
All of this has occurred following 18 months of relative quiet without a single U.S. combat casualty in a country where the Taliban and the U.S-supported Afghan government held a power balance … each controlling their respective territories.
Neither side was mounting major offensives, and America had only 2,500 troops in the country, the smallest military presence since conflicts began two decades ago.
And yes, those 20 years were tragically costly for America; more than 2,400 American deaths, 20,000 Americans wounded, and over $2 trillion spent.
We wanted to get out. But not in this recklessly chaotic cut-and-run manner.
Showcasing an American Leadership Crisis
No, it really didn’t need to happen this way.
Biden and his handlers made what they imagined would be a politically advantageous decision to return all American troops from the country by September 11 over opposing recommendations of experienced military and intelligence experts who warned that a hasty withdrawal would undermine security in Afghanistan.
Senior administration advisers expressed concerns both about capabilities of the Afghan military and the Taliban’s likely ability to take over major Afghan cities.
The administration’s top generals, including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley, urged Biden to keep a force of about 2,500 troops, the size he inherited while seeking a peace agreement with warring Afghan factions, to help maintain stability.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, a former military commander in the region, agreed that full withdrawal would create a regional instability risk.
Other advisers, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan warned Biden about Taliban reprisals against Afghan government diplomats, military interpreters and others who had loyally worked alongside Americans over the past two decades.
Nevertheless, knowing where Biden stood on these matters, they chose political expediency over principles.
Former Obama administration defense secretary and CIA director Leon Panetta said, “I’m sure that those events are raising questions about our credibility and President Biden is absolutely going to have to deal with that.”
Retired Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, Trump’s national security adviser who had served in Afghanistan, listed potential consequences, including assassination campaigns, summary executions and the razing of girls’ schools. “This is what power-sharing with the Taliban looks like.”
A Shameful Betrayal of Moral Trust
Tragically, Biden’s advisers got things completely right.
Despite their advice, the Biden team allowed themselves to be blindsided by the pace at which Taliban forces marched across the country. Triumphantly, they rolled and strolled into the capital city of Kabul within less than two weeks having barely fired a shot other than in self-celebration.
Whereas the Taliban haven’t yet formally taken any stranded Americans captive, neither is their freedom assured.
As Gen. Milley impotently admitted at last Wednesday’s press conference, they lack military resources and political mandate to ensure that every American is evacuated amid the Taliban control of Kabul.
Americans are on their own in attempts to make it past multiple Taliban checkpoints in the city and surrounding the Kabul airport perimeter. Secretary Austin said America is powerless to create a safe passage corridor, which essentially means depending on the goodwill of the Taliban to let our people leave.
The situation is more dire for unknown tens of thousands of Taliban-targeted American and Afghan government-aligned individuals and families who are desperately attempting to escape brutal reprisals.
Taliban checkpoint agents inspect residents’ smartphones for “illicit content,” including communications in English. Others search offices and homes of Afghans suspected of affiliations with Western governments and organizations.
Newsmax TV and other media show images of such suspects — including women — being savagely beaten as they attempt to reach Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport.
Those residents who somehow manage to reach the airport gates are unlikely to be allowed in, much less access a flight to safety outside the country.
Although as many as 50,000 Afghans were promised “Special Immigrant Visas” making them and their families eligible for U.S. residency for translation and other services to our nation, SIV processing is badly backlogged.
Here again, the Biden administration has ignored warnings for months about moving faster to process SIV applications.
Gen. McMaster’s prediction regarding consequences of America’s precipitous pullout on the tragic plight of Afghan women and girls is also a disaster-in-waiting.
The Taliban have historically prohibited girls from being educated, imprisoned women in their homes, and often subjected them to violence, humiliation, torture and gruesome executions.
A Strategic Military Debacle
Incredibly, there was little or no apparent thought or contingency planning regarding what has resulted in a spectacularly humiliating fiasco.
The only explanation offered for abandoning the large Bagram Air Base, a central U.S. nerve center that could have provided substantial American and allied refugee evacuation capabilities, is that the rapid troop drawdown left no American troops to protect it from a Taliban takeover.
That Bagram and friendly Afghan resident support abandonment has also left America and Western allies with no local intel capability to monitor assured reemerging buildups of al Qaeda and ISIS groups that pose very real 9/11-type threats to our mainland. “Over-the-horizon” methods offer no comparable alternatives.
There was obviously no advance plan to secure and recover billions of dollars of costly and technology-sensitive equipment and weaponry, including Black Hawk helicopters, tanks and thousands of armored Humvees from falling into hands of the Taliban …technologies destined to wind up being sold and copied in China.
Perhaps most incomprehensible is a reckless lack of prior arrangements to remove people and equipment when there was time before that arbitrarily hurried and excessive troop withdrawal.
In so doing, the Biden administration has gifted China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea — along with Islamic Afghan-Pakistan and northern Africa terror groups — with a new recruiting trophy; a sovereign Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan to join their ranks.
And again, yes, the catastrophic consequences of this delusional American leadership debacle should matter greatly to all who value freedom and security from tyranny.
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.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.