While US President Joe Biden is hiding at Camp David, the Taliban is humiliating the United States. The withdrawal from Afghanistan is our worst foreign policy disaster in a generation. As the Taliban march on Kabul, they are murdering civilians, reimposing their cruel Islamic law and preparing to turn Afghanistan back into a bandit regime. The US embassy told Americans to take shelter at home. Refugees are fleeing to the airport, begging to escape the oncoming bloodbath. None of this needed to happen.
The United States is the greatest superpower in the world. It must act as such. But President Biden and his national security team failed to protect even the American embassy in Kabul. They have broken America’s promises to the men and women who yearn for freedom – especially those thousands of Afghans who served alongside our military and intelligence services. They are turning their backs on women and children who are desperate for a place on the remaining flights out of hell.
Gross incompetence gave the Taliban a terrible opportunity to slaughter our allies. Eighty-eight thousand of our Afghan allies have applied for visas to leave the country, but this government has only approved 1,200 so far. I was among a bipartisan group of senators who pressured Biden to speed up this process, but to no avail. At this point, it’s not clear how many we can get out of the country. Every translator and ally who supported us is now at risk.
This bloodshed was predicted. For months, Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee had warned the Biden administration that this would happen. Now the government is acting as if this were a surprise. It’s a shameful and dishonest version.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been all over the cable newscast pretending this isn’t a disaster. Government apologists can speak and repeat what they like, but they cannot stifle the screams of women that Taliban forces are systematically brutalizing.
The government spoke naively about a “diplomatic solution”. The Taliban were never interested and broke every agreement they signed. Just look at recent headlines. Last week alone, 27 children were murdered at the hands of the Taliban. The Taliban carried out 22 Afghan commandos as they tried to surrender peacefully. They made their intentions clear – these butchers are online bragging about the massacre.
Advertising for the Taliban
The Taliban doesn’t give a damn about being invited to the UN’s international cocktail party in Brussels. Clichés about “the Taliban’s role in the international community” will not cancel them out. The Taliban will not stop being the Taliban just because White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki reprimands them.
The withdrawal of the United States is a huge propaganda coup for the jihadists. The Taliban will claim to be a “superpower killer”. The Taliban helped their allies carry out the 9/11 attacks almost exactly 20 years ago, and after our withdrawal, they will be able to brag about humiliating us again.
Make no mistake: the Taliban will exploit every image of the American withdrawal. Photos of desperately desperate Afghans huddled around the unprotected airport in Kabul are painfully reminiscent of images from Saigon – images that cemented Communist victory in Vietnam and showed America’s weakness to the world. Jihadists are migrating to “holy ground”, where they have just defeated the “infidels”. Afghanistan will become a sanctuary for terrorist groups again.
China and Russia will also seek to capitalize on Biden’s weakness and incompetence. Their message is simple: why should Ukraine or Taiwan trust the United States after seeing how Washington abandoned its allies in Afghanistan? America’s enemies are salivating at the idea of taking advantage of the president who surrendered in the War on Terror.
The sad thing is that many in my party [republicano] they’re trying to shift the blame, as if the last administration hadn’t set us on this path. This is the blunt truth: neither party takes foreign policy seriously. For a decade, demagogues have been lying to the American people about our mission in Afghanistan. President Trump has initiated the withdrawal strategy President Biden is pursuing, with disastrous effects.
Politicians and experts who make excuses for this shameful withdrawal will dishonestly claim that the only options were to exit or fight in the so-called “endless wars”. They pretend our only options were a massive occupation or an immediate retreat. They ignore reality on the spot. Their cheap arguments led to chaos, persecution and death.
Politicians do not tell this truth: the United States did not have a nation-building occupation force in Afghanistan. The last time we had 100,000 soldiers in the country was a decade ago. We are not fighting “endless wars” in Afghanistan any more than we are fighting endless wars in South Korea, Germany or Japan – or Kosovo, or Honduras, or any other nation where we have forces deployed. A relatively small number of troops have successfully supported our Afghan allies, providing the backbone for intelligence and special operations missions. Americans were not building empires or fighting invincible battles. We were defending airfields and beheading terrorist organizations, keeping a light trail.
Americans have heard of some prominent villains such as Qasem Soleimani and Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. But our heroes in Afghanistan have killed far more would-be bin Laden wannabes whose names are unknown – precisely because they were killed before they could bring down a World Trade Center. We fought and won this war in Afghanistan, not on American shores. But you wouldn’t notice this from the isolationist rhetoric surrounding Biden’s choices.
It is important to recognize the work our special forces and intelligence operatives did after 9/11. The partnerships they built with our Afghan allies were based on the idea that the US is not capable of this kind of betrayal. I’ve had a dozen conversations with American intelligence officers and special operatives over the past few weeks, and they told me they swore to their Afghan recruits that if they fought shoulder to shoulder with Americans, we would protect their wives and children. These promises are being broken. The United States should be better than that. The Biden government is spitting in the face of all these heroes, but we owe them a debt of gratitude. The work they did was important, and it still matters.
Our troops have not lost this war. Politicians chose defeat. We never had to let the Taliban win, but a bipartisan doctrine of weakness humiliated the world’s greatest superpower and handed Afghanistan over to the butchers.
In the coming weeks, the situation in Afghanistan will get much worse. Americans need to pray for this troubled country. President Biden needs to get up, come out of hiding and take control of the mess he has created. Secure the airports and get as many souls out of there as possible. Time is short.
*Ben Sasse is a member of the Republican Party and is a junior senator from the state of Nebraska, United States.
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