Joe Biden made a great big deal of his comprehensive reversals of Donald Trump’s policies upon his assumption of the Presidency. Such a big deal that he signed SEVENTEEN of them his very first day in office. Oftentimes, Biden’s policy choices and decisions seem directly rooted in Trump’s, as in “if Trump did X, I will undo X,” the merits of X notwithstanding.

Yet, when pressed on the utter debacle that is the Afghanistan withdrawal, Biden claimed that he was trapped by Trump’s deal with the Taliban. For a guy who gleefully boasted of undoing everything his predecessor did, that seems a bit incongruous.

As well as specious. Trump’s deal was that we’d leave by May 1, yet here we are, in mid August, with Americans still in-country. How did that happen, if Biden was bound by Trump’s treaty? Moreover, Biden took ownership of the decision to cease our Afghan adventure back in April:

After consulting closely with our allies and partners, with our military leaders and intelligence personnel, with our diplomats and our development experts, with the Congress and the vice president, as well as with [Afghan President Ashraf Ghani] and many others around the world, I concluded that it’s time to end America’s longest war. It’s time for American troops to come home.

And, in July:

I said we would be out by September, and we’re on track to meet that target … I made the decision to end the war … I made the decision to end the U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan … I made the decision with clear eyes.

His former boss in the White House was quite fond of saying “I” when it was about self-promotion, and it appears that Uncle Joe picked up on that habit.

He even tried to bluster a Trumanesque “I” in his pass-the-buck speech:

I am President of the United States of America, and the buck stops with me,

while blaming Trump and the Afghans rather than the generals and planners under his command for the utterly chaotic and incredibly tragic withdrawal.

While it was always an inevitability that a withdrawal would be problematic, the hash that our leaders made of this – the incredible incompetence it displays – is utterly shocking.

We’ve all seen the swarms of Afghans desperately trying to get on the last aircraft out, with two plummeting from a transport after takeoff, and a third found dead in a wheel well.

We hear how the US simply up and left Bagram Airfield in the middle of the night, without even telling the Afghan commander.

We hear that tens of thousands of Afghans who assisted the US were simply abandoned, likely to face terrible retribution from the Taliban that has swept aside the Afghan National Army (whose fecklessness was widely predicted) the way a tide sweeps aside a child’s sand castle.

The fallout from this disaster will echo for a looooong time, in countless ways. While I and may others have long advocated for departure from Afghanistan, no rational person would have even thought to contemplate that it would be carried out with such ineptitude and callous disregard for human life. I cannot fathom the unbelievably incompetent fashion in which it was carried out – and despair at how many will die needlessly as a result. Should we need to engage in another bout of foreign war, who among the locals will dare help us, given this horrific example? Will belligerent foreign leaders be emboldened by this utter ineptitude and its aftermath?

As Billy Binion at Reason notes, “it is possible to champion our troop removal while criticizing the way it was done,” and there’s ample evidence that so many things could have been done better.

The Afghan affair has enough blame to lay upon everyone: GWB for turning an anti-terror mission into a nation-building exercise, Obama for expanding it, Trump for half-assing his instinct to get out, and Biden for the utter shit show that the exit turned into.

But, in politics, I guess the buck stops elsewhere, or perhaps elsewhen. The blame is thus laid on ABM (anybody but me!), excepting, rather perversely, the Taliban itself.

The Biden era, we were told, was to restore normalcy in the aftermath of the bull-china-ship that was the Trump era. Apparently, that normalcy is a combination of incompetence, flippancy, and how-dare-you-question-me hauteur overlaying a rejection of responsibility for bad decisions and bad outcomes.

It’s a hell of a way to run a country.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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