James Monroe was the fifth President of the United States. He served from 1817 until 1825. Before being President, Mr. Monroe helped negotiate the Louisiana Purchase for the Jefferson administration. He was Secretary of State in the Madison administration. He served as a Governor and as a Senator. In short, he had a long and distinguished public service career.
Midway through Mr. Monroe’s second term as President, he put forth the U.S. policy that said any intervention by foreign powers in the politics of the Americas would be considered a hostile act to the United States. This policy intended to discourage European countries from establishing any more colonies in the Western Hemisphere. This protection would become known as the Monroe Doctrine and would be invoked by multiple future U.S. Presidents, including Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan.
Two hundred years later, the Monroe Doctrine is still taught in schools and adhered to by world powers. It serves as a shining example of why it is so important to note when a sitting President sets a precedent that could impact the nation for years to come.
Behold the Biden Doctrine.
For twenty years, the United States of America has been mired in an armed conflict in Afghanistan. President Trump promised to extricate our nation, and Biden made it clear he intended to follow through. In and of itself, the concept of wanting to end a “forever war” isn’t a bad one. The steps taken to achieve that goal, however, are crucial. Crucial to maintaining the hard-earned gains earned by those injured or died serving in the U.S. military. Crucial to the women and children who had no hope and even fewer rights at the turn of the century when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan. Crucial to the Afghan people who believed American promises and put their own lives on the line in exchange for helping U.S. interests.
The poor execution of exiting the country established what will forever be known as the Biden Doctrine. Biden’s vision can be summed up in three words. Cut and run.
At a July 8 news conference, President Biden took questions regarding the American withdrawal from Afghanistan. Military advisors, intelligence experts, and much of the world feared that the Taliban would violently retake control from President Ashraf Ghani and his government as soon as America left. One reporter asked Biden exactly that, “Is a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan now inevitable?”
The President responded firmly. “No, it is not.” He went on to explain why not. “Because you — the Afghan troops have 300,000 well-equipped — as well-equipped as any army in the world — and an air force against something like 75,000 Taliban. It is not inevitable.”
Biden floated a scenario where perhaps the Taliban would control some cities six months after America’s departure.
In reality, the Taliban marched through the entire country in a matter of days. If anyone objected, they killed them. If anyone was perceived as a sympathizer to the sitting Afghan government or the United States, they killed them. They beheaded people. They raped women. The Taliban pulled children from their homes and either killed them or, in some instances, forced them into sexual captivity. They did all of this without even waiting until the U.S. withdrawal was complete.
It seems Mr. Biden’s July assessment had been a tad off.
Where was the President as the Taliban brutality unfolded? On vacation, as was his official White House spokesperson. They were missing in action, and the issue wasn’t addressed.
Mr. Biden was asked at that July press conference by another reporter if the withdrawal could send the same signs and appearances of defeat that America suffered in Saigon after the Vietnam war. Mr. Biden was resolute in his response.
“The Taliban is not the south — the North Vietnamese army. They’re not — they’re not remotely comparable in terms of capability,” Mr. Biden said. “There’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy … of the United States from Afghanistan. It is not at all comparable.”
Again, Mr. Biden’s assessment was dead wrong.
The United States Embassy in Kabul became the place where documents were burned or otherwise destroyed. Employees made evacuation plans, the U.S. flag was folded up, and the embassy closed down. The crowning moment came when helicopters came and lifted Americans and staff off the roof in their effort to escape unharmed. Hello Saigon.
During Mr. Biden’s disappearing act and week of silence, several things happened. Afghanistan President Ghani negotiated his own departure with the Taliban, greeting them at the Presidential palace and signing a document that agreed to his own resignation and a transfer of powers to the Taliban. The President then fled to Uzbekistan with four cars and a huge pile of cash. The Taliban held a press conference from the Presidential palace. Still, no sign of Mr. Biden.
Think of that. The Taliban took over the entire country and held a press conference from the Presidential palace before the President of the United States spoke one word to the American people or the media about it.
Wait, it gets worse.
White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said this past week a significant share of the weapons America had provided the Afghan Security Forces was now in the hands of the Taliban. “We don’t have a complete picture, obviously, of where every article of defense materials has gone, but certainly a fair amount of it has fallen into the hands of the Taliban, and obviously we don’t have a sense that they are going to readily hand it over to us at the airport.”
Speaking of the airport, the Biden administration issued a message to Americans in Afghanistan regarding helping them safely exit the country.
To American Citizens,
Thank you for registering your request to be evacuated from Afghanistan. The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan has confirmed that an undefined number of U.S. government-provided flights will begin soon. Please make your way to Hamid Karzai International Airport at this time.
PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT CANNOT GUARANTEE YOUR SECURITY AS YOU MAKE THIS TRIP.
Let me translate that for you.
To American Citizens,
The situation here in Afghanistan is so perilous that we have closed our embassy. Because of the imminent danger, we plucked embassy employees off the embassy roof and transported them to the airport. You are responsible for getting yourself to the airport through the very mess we avoided, and if you make it to the airport, you may or may not get on a flight. We cannot and will not guarantee your safety.
Once word leaked that America was flying people out of the country, desperate Afghanis who had helped and supported the new government and/or U.S. troops realized they were being left like lambs for slaughter. Literally. The Taliban was already killing people nationwide. These fine people flocked to the airport in hopes of cashing in promises made by the Americans. Some grabbed onto airplanes as they took off or hid in wheel wells. More than one died in such acts of desperation.
Eventually, Joe Biden emerged from hiding and spoke to the American people. He explained it wasn’t our place to enter another country’s civil war. He said the buck stops with him and then pointed the finger at others. There was no mention of Afghanistan serving as a hotbed of terror training.
Despite saying just weeks before that there was no chance of a Saigon-like departure, Mr. Biden offered this, “My national security team and I have been closely monitoring the situation on the ground in Afghanistan and moving quickly to execute the plans we had put in place to respond to every constituency, including - and contingency - including the rapid collapse we’re seeing now.”
But the Biden administration didn’t serve every constituency. They left behind a nation. They left behind our embassy. They left behind people who had helped America and the new Afghan government. They left behind Americans who couldn’t find their own way to the airport in the midst of the Taliban’s deadly chaos. They abandoned the women and children who were treated with total brutality the last time the Taliban ruled. They left a country in the hands of a known terror group that is extremely likely to serve as a training ground for a new generation of anti-American terrorists.
Ending the “forever war” in Afghanistan was an admirable goal. However, the failed execution of the task has established a new U.S. doctrine for the rest of the world to observe. The Biden Doctrine: Cut and Run.
• Tim Constantine is a columnist for The Washington Times and hosts “The Capitol Hill Show” podcast every week from Washington, D.C.