“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” warned philosopher George Santayana, and President Joe Biden is about to repeat President Barack Obama’s mistake in departing Iraq before the job was done.
The U.S. left, ISIS exploded to create a caliphate, and the U.S. was forced to return.
In his remarks, Biden actually referenced the shattered caliphate, as proof of our mission being completed. He failed to connect the dots as to how that was accomplished — the U.S. military triumphed in an encore performance.
We did not want this war, it was thrust upon us. It deserves an end that is honorable, not calendar-dependent.
Mistake #1 is pulling all out remaining forces, currently only 2,500 troops and 1,000 Special Forces. That’s about half the size of the Philadelphia police force. In 2020 there were four combat deaths in Afghanistan (plus six non combat, which could mean accidents or suicide). There were 499 deaths by homicide in Philadelphia, which is more dangerous to Americans than Afghanistan.
He is ignoring advice from military and intelligence sources that total withdrawal is a mistake. Like Obama, he is in the thrall of what he thinks is history. It is just ego.
Mistake #2 was announcing a date certain for departure. The enemy just has to sit tight to get what it wants.
Mistake #3 was making the final departure date 9/11, in a horribly misguided attempt to close the circle of the 20-year war, but winds up honoring the date terrorists killed almost 3,000 Americans.
The only people cheering Biden’s decision are Trumpster Republicans, pacifist Democrats, Tucker Carlson and the Taliban.
Yes, it is America’s longest war. So what?
A sizable number of Americans in the North felt the Civil War had gone on too long, was too bloody, and too costly, and would have brought it to an end before it was finished.
Would that have been wise? Would that have been right?
We have been in Afghanistan for 20 years.
Is there magic to that number?
We have been in Japan (Okinawa) and Germany for 75 years, and elsewhere in Europe. Is that “too long?” Our forces are there for a reason, to prevent what had been the Soviets from rolling across Europe. The U.S., with NATO, has kept the peace, with a few shameful exceptions.
That is the purpose of our troops in Afghanistan — to keep the nation as stable as possible, and to prevent the return of the Taliban, with its 12th Century mindset — making mules of women, banning music and even kites, remember? — plus al Qaeda and perhaps ISIS. We are there to prevent terror from getting another foothold, from which they can attack us again.
That is the risk Biden is running with his declaration that he doesn’t want to turn this war over to another president.
Of all President Donald J. Trump’s initiatives, this is the one Biden chose to emulate?
Trump wanted out largely because he didn’t like the expense of it, even while he cut taxes for millionaires (and others). He talked about loving the military, but made his choice by emotion, rather than knowledge and intellect, both of which were in short supply.
I know many Americans don’t want to be in the Middle East, they don’t see the point of it. They are tired of the human or financial cost. Or they are isolationist, or maybe even racist — “let the towelheads kill each, why should we care?”
As to the last point, because when they get through killing each other, they turn their eyes to infidels, and the U.S. is the Great Satan. Remember the joy in large parts of the Arab world after 9/11?
Biden is a military father — one son served with distinction, the other was booted out. He has a greater feel for the sacrifice of the military than Trump was capable of. He was emotional as he moved among the rows of war dead at Arlington. Most Americans are moved when they are there, to be walking among the shadows of heroes.
But Biden has a military — all volunteers, and armies are to be used when needed.
I don’t want to seem cavalier. I have more respect for our volunteer military than I can say, but when they signed up, they knew they could be putting their lives at risk for their country.
As Biden would say, here’s the deal: They are willing to serve; he must be willing to lead, even if that means the list of war dead that he carries in his pocket grows longer.
And it probably will, because he has forgotten the lessons of the past.