Sunday, August 22, 2021

Biden Botches Afghanistan - Where Does the Buck Stop?

 We have all witnessed the debacle from our clumsy and precipitous withdrawal of our military from Afghanistan.  The humanitarian and moral disaster was as astonishing as it was avoidable.  Not only do our allies and our adversaries correctly point out our incompetence, but so do members of the the president’s own political party and administration.  Perhaps, this is an issue that might unite the Democrats and the GOP. 

Indeed, the record contradicts President Biden’s claim that no military experts warned him that his plan risked chaos and catastrophe.  All of us certainly heard the president reassure us only weeks ago that the Taliban were unlikely to prevail in the short term and there would certainly not be a ‘Saigon moment’, recalling an iconic and humiliating scene from 1975.

The president also claimed that he was handcuffed to withdraw troops as he needed to honor the prior agreement between the Taliban and the former administration.  This is malarkey!  First of all, President Biden already broke the prior deal by extending the withdrawal deadline from May 1st to August 31st.  And Biden’s fidelity to Trump’s Taliban agreement seems inconsistent as he readily and enthusiastically reversed many other Trump actions with regard to the Paris Climate Agreement, the World Health Organization and the Iran nuclear deal. 

Of course, the president and his minions tried to deflect by arguing that we needed to extricate ourselves from this ‘forever war’, a point that most of us agreed with but was not the actual point. The withdrawal was botched even if the strategy to disengage was sound.

We also heard the president argue that he didn’t want a 5th president to inherit this war as if the next presidential election were only days away. 

'Joe, take a lesson from Harry.'

But, here’s the point of this post.  I find Biden’s reaction and explanation to this colossal failure to be deeply disappointing and contrary to his repeated pledge to be straight with us.  In his initial explanation to the nation on 8/16/2021, he stated that ‘the buck stops with me’, while his remarks were largely devoted to blaming everyone else (except the Taliban) for what transpired.  And during subsequent remarks and interviews, he continued to deny any personal responsibility.  We didn’t even hear the typical passive voice construction that ‘mistakes were made’. 

While it may have been painful and difficult, the president should have admitted to what we all saw with our own eyes.  And in the same speech, he would promise to do all he could to make the situation right.  Isn't this what we try to teach to our kids?

Not only would such a course be the right thing to do, but it would also serve the president’s interest.  It would reinforce to all of us that his promise to give it to us straight is still true.



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