- - Thursday, August 26, 2021

Moments of crisis require leaders to rise to the occasion.

George Washington did it when leading his men across the Delaware River on Christmas Day before the Battle of Trenton. The victory there was a major boost for our troops during the Revolutionary War and secured Washington’s role as a leader while renewing support for the war from Congress.

Abraham Lincoln gave one of the most quoted speeches of all time during the dedication of the Soldier’s National Cemetery at Gettysburg. He signed the Emancipation Proclamation that freed slaves in Confederate states during the war and pushed to approve the 13th Amendment to the Constitution that prohibits slavery—and then kept the nation together.

Ronald Reagan stood at the Brandenburg Gate and told Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.” Previously, President Reagan had held his ground during the Reykjavík Summit, despite plenty of criticism from the media and politicians in Washington. In doing so, he set the stage for the Berlin Wall to come down and, with it, the fall of Communism in Europe.

George W. Bush stood on a pile of debris from the World Trade Center towers after the 9/11 attacks and spoke with a bullhorn to many rescue workers. When one of them said, “We can’t hear you,” President Bush said, “We can hear you. The American people can hear you. And soon, the people who did this will hear us.”

Real leaders take charge during times of uncertainty. They don’t turn their backs and run. Sadly, Joe Biden is not a real leader.

Whether you think American troops should not be in Afghanistan, you believe we should have a full-scale operation, or your viewpoint is somewhere in between with a small force of troops to maintain stability, every rational person must agree that the current situation in Afghanistan is a total disaster. On every level.

Apologists for Joe Biden proclaim that the airlifts of American citizens and Afghan allies are some of the largest in history. They ignore the reality that the poor judgment of those in the Biden administration put them in this position in the first place. A better plan to get these folks out before they pulled out American troops would have allowed an orderly process of getting people safely out of the country.

Joe Biden and his surrogates claim that they prepared for what we see in Afghanistan. If they prepared, why would they not have a handle on the total number of American citizens stranded in the country?

If they actually expected all of this to happen, why would they have ordered the abandonment of Bagram Airfield in the middle of the night in July? If they expected this to happen, why would they leave all of the weapons and other equipment there for the Taliban to take?  If they planned for this to happen, why would our allies from around the world and our partners in Afghanistan not be notified before the troop withdrawal?

Either they are lying about what they knew, or they really did not expect this all to play out the way it did. For the sake of the country, it is probably better if they were not telling the truth.

During my time as Governor of Wisconsin, and even before when I was the Milwaukee County Executive, I learned that the chief executive needs to take charge during a crisis. More often than not, it was a natural disaster—floods, tornadoes, wind damage, etc. Tragically in 2012, we experienced a shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

Years later, we had an officer-related shooting that could have easily led to days of riots in our largest city. Instead, we worked with state and local law enforcement—as well as with clergy in the neighborhood. I ordered the National Guard to come to a nearby transit system garage. They were minutes away from the area in case things got out of control. Thankfully, the pastors in the area really helped us ease the tension. Plus, potential agitators knew that the National Guard was close by if they got out of control. Moments like these require leadership.

Watching Joe Biden turn his back and walk away from reporters without taking questions is extremely frustrating. During my time in office, I learned that people need to hear from their leaders in times of crisis.

One final thought about Afghanistan: I don’t give a damn about what the Taliban say. We should not leave until every American citizen  - and every person who fought with us during the past 20 years - is safely out of the country. We don’t leave people behind. Our military code is quite clear.  If Joe Biden and Kamala Harris can’t do it, they should step down and let someone else take over who can.

Rise to the occasion. No one left behind.

• Scott Walker was the 45th governor of Wisconsin. You can contact him at swalker@washingtontimes.com or follow him @ScottWalker.

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