The majority of Americans indeed wanted out of the ‘forever war’ in Afghanistan. They just never imagined our withdrawal would be met with a stunning surrender to a terrorist organization and the cost of the lives of 13 U.S. service members.
Today was President Joe Biden’s stated evacuation date, and come hell or high water; he was going to stick with it. This weekend, there were still 250 Americans stranded in war-torn Kabul, let alone those unaccounted for in the rest of the country. Access to and from Kabul’s airport was shut down due to security threats. Reports from the ground indicate Americans were told to go to a specific gate for evacuation only to arrive there and find it wasn’t open.
The Biden administration outsourced security to the Taliban, which then outsourced checkpoints to and from the airport to the Haqqani Network, a terrorist organization that harbors al Qaeda and has carried out strikes against U.S. coalition forces, innocent civilians, and the government of Afghanistan. To help with the evacuation, the U.S. unconscionably gave a list of names to the Taliban for safe passage. The move is akin to giving Schindler’s list to the Nazis.
It didn’t have to be this way.
On August 15, the day Afghanistan’s capital fell to the Taliban and its president fled the country, the head of the Taliban’s political wing, Abdul Ghani Baradar, made an offer to the U.S. – either the U.S. military takes responsibility for securing Kabul, or we will do it – according to reporting from the Washington Post. The Biden administration declined, saying it only needed the airport to complete its mission, and surrendered security to the Taliban.
Mr. Biden could’ve controlled both the airport and Kabul and evacuated everyone but chose not to. The disregard for American life, especially those U.S. service members killed last Thursday at the airport gates in a suicide attack, is staggering. But it wasn’t Mr. Biden’s only mistake.
In our hast to leave Afghanistan, more than $85 billion of U.S. taxpayer-funded military equipment has been left in the hands of the Taliban, including 33 Black Hawks, more than 22,000 Humvees, 358, 530 assault rifles, and 169 armored personal vehicles. Courtesy of the U.S. government, the Taliban is now one of the most well-armed terrorist organizations in the region. Undoubtedly our own equipment will be used against us.
The decision to abandon Bagram airbase was another massive miscalculation. Bagram, which was well-fortified, with two runways, about 40 miles from the city center of Kabul, was abruptly abandoned in the middle of the night by the U.S. military in July. Mr. Biden has blamed his generals for the pullout. His generals said Mr. Biden gave them little choice.
“Our task given to us at that time, our task was to protect the Embassy in order for the Embassy personnel to continue to function,” General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a briefing last week, adding, “we had to collapse one or the other.”
A third option was to send more U.S. troops to protect both the airport and the Embassy before the evacuation of U.S. citizens. As commander-in-chief, Mr. Biden didn’t give his military leaders that option. The buck stops with him.
Throughout the last two weeks, Mr. Biden has outright lied to the American people, his rhetoric simply not reflecting reality, trying to spin victory in the hands of defeat. The American people deserve the truth, especially when American lives are on the line. Mr. Biden has proven incapable. More blood will be on his hands.