Commander in Chief Joe Biden, along with top military brass and White House officials, must be called to account for their roles in the disastrous Afghan withdrawal debacle that has tragically jeapordized U.S. and global security.
Key among these derelictions of responsibility are failures to heed warnings that hasty U.S. troop withdrawal would lead to rapid collapse of Afghan government forces; failure to coordinate plans with NATO partners; failure to secure critical evacuation routes and facilities; failures to keep armaments and munitions from falling into hostile Taliban, al Qaeda and ISIS hands; and failures to maintain future monitoring of mounting American terrorist threats in the region.
A Culpable Lack of Coordinated Planning
Any responsible president and commander in chief contemplating such a consequential foreign policy decision and military actions would have tasked a top-level defense department and intelligence agency fact-finding and planning advisory group to address comprehensive issues, strategic priorities and requirements, risk-benefits and contingency ramifications.
The White House staff normally expected to anticipate rather than react with damage control to each crisis were also apparently missing in action.
These are the ones who failed to supervise cross-agency planning, push cabinet and other officials to develop position options, and prepare teleprompter scripts and pocket crib notes to make it at least appear to the U.S. public and world that America has an informed and coherent leader.
Turning Deaf Ears to Warnings
Biden’s White House handlers and his top military and intelligence advisors did, in fact, know that that the arbitrary Aug. 31 U.S. troop withdrawal deadline — during the height of the Taliban summer fighting season — was both foolhardy and dangerous, but went along with his demands to do so anyway.
An urgent July 13 “confidential dissent channel” State Department memo signed by 23 American Embassy officials in Kabul had warned that the country would rapidly collapse to Taliban control if the administration held to a planned August 31 troop withdrawal deadline.
The administration’s top generals, including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley and 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.
A Strategic Military Debacle
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.
The only explanation offered for abandoning the massive 30-mile-wide Bagram Air Base, a central U.S. nerve center that could have provided substantial American and allied refugee evacuation capabilities, is that the self-imposed rapid troop drawdown left no American troops to protect it from a Taliban takeover.
That incomprehensible Bagram 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.
Blindsiding America’s NATO Allies:
The U.S. was not alone in military operations against Taliban — and ultimately terrorist al Qaeda and ISIS — forces.
Afghanistan was also an operation of America’s NATO allies in fulfillment of their obligations after the Sept. 11 terror attack led to the first Article 5 invocation of the mutual self-defense clause in the organization’s founding treaty.
Over the past 20 years, those NATO allies have invested significant blood and treasure in the conflict, including tens of thousands of troops, more than 1,100 of whom were killed, and billions of dollars.
Nevertheless, the Biden administration never involved NATO in either the substance or timing of unilateral Afghanistan U.S. troop withdrawal. They deserved some real consultation input into the decision and the planning of any end to the war, and they have good reasons to resent disastrous consequences of those arrogant and incompetently ill-planned and executed actions.
Betrayal of Afghan Supporters:
The Biden administration’s hasty troop pullout has left many thousands of Afghan U.S. and NATO interpreters (“terps”) desperately stranded throughout the country at the mercy of Taliban — and likely far worse — brutal al Qaeda and ISIS elements.
Incredulously, not only have we abandoned our commitment to evacuate those U.S. Special Immigrant Visa-eligible (SIV) Afghan supporters; but we have even outed their identities for kill lists to be used by those who will later track them down.
As reported in The Wall Street Journal, head of U.S. Central Command Gen. Frank McKensie fecklessly explained: the Taliban checkpoints on the way to the [Kabul] airport — in coordination with the U.S. — [were screened for] Afghans whose past work with Western forces puts them in danger of Taliban retribution. The Taliban [were then] “providing the outer security cordon.”
National Dishonor and Global Distrust
Joe Biden and his senior aides have made the case in recent statements that the scenes of chaos in Kabul were “inevitable.”
They were wrong.
There is no excuse for the failures to begin ramping up the special visa program for Afghan allies on April 14 when Biden first announced the withdrawal; failures of the White House to ensure responsible U.S. interagency and intragovernmental coordination with allies; and failures of Pentagon leaders to devise a sensible plan for withdrawal of troops and war materiel in a way that safeguarded the evacuation of American civilians and SIVs.
As consequences, this fiasco has given America’s allies reason to distrust us — and our adversaries opportunities to dangerously exploit an obvious leadership vacuum.
President and Commander in Chief Biden must be called upon to fire all who are responsible for this disgrace, before, then including, himself.
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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