- - Monday, August 16, 2021

The coronavirus isn’t the only pathogen on the loose. Weakness is also contagious, and President Biden has caught it. Engrossed with the current pandemic, he has fled from the fight to defeat Islamic extremists in Afghanistan. The reappearance of the black flag of terrorism, combined with the president’s “progressive” policy of easy immigration, has set the conditions for America’s enemies to revive their assault on our homeland. The nation’s borders must be secured. Now.

Afghanistan has fallen, notwithstanding Mr. Biden’s puerile efforts to reassure Americans of its unlikelihood. Since he announced in July that he would withdraw U.S. troops from the mountainous Asian wasteland by Sept. 11, the religious extremists of the Taliban emerged from the shadows, reclaimed provincial cities, then Sunday rode unchallenged into the capital, Kabul. Flattened beneath their wheels is Mr. Biden’s credibility.

The U.S. military brass and diplomats who didn’t see this coming should have: Iraqi Army units similarly trained and armed by the U.S. capitulated in the face of a surging ISIS in 2014, refusing to fight their co-religionists without back-up from Americans.

Before its pullout from Afghanistan, the U.S. military presence was deemed mission-critical. “What we’re here to do is prevent al Qaeda and ISIS from reconstituting in the ungoverned spaces, generally in eastern Afghanistan, and be able to plot attacks against our homeland,” U.S. Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, told NBC News in July. “That threat is still here today.”

Their shared reverence for Islamic fundamentalism meant the Taliban would never renounce al Qaeda and force its armed insurgency out of the safe havens from which it launched its attacks on American targets. Now with the Taliban’s return to power, al Qaeda’s fortunes are secure. Accordingly, the threat that Gen. McKenzie eyed is free to intensify, potentially putting Americans in the same crosshairs that menaced them before the historic attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

It must be acknowledged that Americans have clearly favored withdrawal. A July poll conducted for the Chicago Council found 70 percent of respondents favoring a U.S. military exit by the 20th anniversary of the attacks, with 29 percent disagreeing. Few could have foreseen, though, how rapidly the nation’s enemies were galvanized to action by the images of a frail U.S. president stumbling over his stairs and words.

With the collapse of Afghanistan comes a harsh, new national-security reality. Mr. Biden’s effective recasting of the U.S. Border Patrol’s mission from preventing the entry of uninvited people to facilitating their access has allowed hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants from more than 100 nations – a significant percentage sick with COVID-19 — to disperse across the continent. It is naïve to expect evildoers to wait their turn in a Customs line.

Attempting to safeguard the nation by fighting enemies overseas while leaving the U.S. border exposed has always been an invitation to terror. Mr. Biden’s weak open-borders policy must end.

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