Biden’s 3 Afghan mistakes

“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.

President Biden walks among the war dead at Arlington

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.

So what?

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.

Why not?

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.

11 thoughts on “Biden’s 3 Afghan mistakes”

  1. We often hear the theory that countries like Vietnam and Afghanistan who have been fighting internal tribes and other dynasties for thousand’s of years have to just wait because America always gets tired of war and withdraws. American’s hate to hear that we are the policeman of the world. Biden is now facing the Russian’s in Ukraine, the Chinese in Hong Kong, and a self-made God in North Korea and all with nuclear weapons. The commitment is the destruction of our country. But they hesitate because we may self-destruct from within as sides form to make our summer a fireball condoned by those who have the ear of president Biden. If there is one old phrase that we hope will prevail we can only hope that, “cooler heads prevail.”

  2. Philadelphia, PA

    Dear Stu,

    I beg to differ. When I heard the announcement of the withdraw from Afghanistan, my first thought was that our new President is showing some wisdom. I support the President’s decision.

    This war has been going on for much too long, and what it chiefly seems to demonstrate (once again) is that only the Afghans can control Afghanistan. The major powers have tried their hands at this over the centuries–starting with the British– and always failed. The genuine and pernicious egotism was the thought that the U.S. could succeed in democratizing the country with large elements of the population resisting or indifferent. If they are ever going to have peace in their country, the evidence is that they will have to solve their own conflicts.

    We can’t be “world policeman,” and the attempt to play that role is damaging to American society and politics. We are effectively importing all the world’s problems, and it shows in wide-spread discontent and alienation.

    We should recall the skepticism of the American founders at the prospect of “large standing armies in times of peace.” Or, is the problem instead that we effectively no longer have any “times of peace”? So much the worse for attempting to be “world policeman.” We have been seeing a long-term militarization of American society.

    H.G. Callaway

  3. I don’t understand the American policy of sticking our nose in other countries problems. Afganistan, Iraq and Vietnam are examples. None of these invasions were warranted. The miitary need conflict in order to obtain new toys of death, and politicians justify expenditures for these weapons due to the so called war on terrorism. I find it disgusting that Presidents Biden, Trump, Obama, Bush and Clinton were all dodgers of military service, yet are gungho to use the military and sacrifice young lives. It’s long overdue escaping the snake pit called Afganistan, where no matter what, the different tribes will continue to fight each other.

  4. Why does the USA insist on fighting wars in countries that have nothing to do with our own safety? Let those people alone, let them kill each other, let them have any form of government they think they want. It’s none of our business. I’m glad the troops are coming home.

  5. Stu, I agree with you that a small, residual force ought to remain. Makes sense. As usual, you are the voice of reason.

    my palle,
    Where to begin. You touched on a sensitive subject.
    To begin with Ladies and gents, this more complicated than probably anything else that you can imagine. This country has no problem being in a conflict. Doesn’t matter if we start it or finish it. MONEY ! It’s all about the benjamins, baby ! Change the money word to power, land , etc. It comes back to money !

    1) I don’t believe that just because a person has not worn the uniform, they have no input.
    2) I don’t agree on leaving ‘some ‘ units behind.
    3) I don’t believe in withdrawal.
    4) I don’t believe in paying for the same real estate twice.
    5) I don’t agree with your assessment of President Trump.
    6) I don’t agree with your assessment of President Biden.
    7) I don’t have a problem with being the ‘police for the world’.

    1) There is not a problem with a scholar or whoever voicing an opinion. Keep in mind, that it is only a opinion. If you’re
    not sitting at the table, then you don’t have most of the facts. Nobody has them all. NOBODY !
    2) Tom borrowed half of my line. Tony has said for years, “If you want us, the U.S. to the protect the world, then let our
    MARINES be the policemen of the world”. AND, YOU WILL PAY FOR THAT PRIVEDEDGE .
    3) If we are to be a force to be respected, the number of warriors stationed ‘in country’ should reflect that.
    4) Nobody in their mind wants more causalities. BUT ! We are not talking about choosing sides for a winner take all
    paint ball war. Further, we are “there” because we don’t want them “here”. Get the politics out of decision making.
    It’s bad enough those we elected are screwing up our lives here at home. Maybe you don’t remember some of the
    horrendous, ridiculous decisions they made over the years. ” don’t fire unless fired upon”. no fighting on ….day”
    5) President Trump doe not like politicians. He saw that war was just another way of making money for the “in crowd”.
    If I remember correctly, Trump said, in my words. We will pull the ground troops out and place them in a nearby
    country. As soon as some starts their s*&t, we level the place !
    6) I can understand losing somebody close in war. Been there too too many times, as has some of you. Some days, at
    the cemetery, I have a hard time keeping myself in one piece. (catharsis ). President Biden did just that. He left
    himself open for a moment. Take a look at photos of President Trump, walking through Arlington with no press
    around. Look at the emotion he’s feeling at Dover.
    Stu, I know that you write from the heart. You get it right 99% of the time. Same with in this blog.
    I’m betting that most of your readers know how much our Veterans and the military means to you. I certainly do. You worked with me, in my causes plenty.
    Yu Are The Best, Pallie,

  7. Just add the Afghans to the long list of allies(Iraqis,Kurds, South Vietnamese, Hmong, etc.) that we have abandoned.

  8. Philadelphia, PA

    Dear Donofry & readers,

    If we have “abandoned” these people, then that seems to imply that we are (always were?, became?) primarily responsible for them. But aren’t they primarily responsible for themselves in ways that even U.S. interventions could never remove?

    My sense of the wisdom of the planned withdraw from Afghanistan is that the long presence of foreign forces has tended to diminish self-responsibility, when, in fact, only the Afghans could possible resolve their own conflicts. The decades-long presence of foreign troops has only exaggerated the pre-existing conflicts. But, for sure, if the Afghans do not want to be ruled by the Taliban, then they will not hesitate to let them know.

    The news today is that our NATO allies will also be removing their troops. More important is that we have taken one step away from the role of “world policeman.” As I see the matter, that’s one step in the direction of saving the republic.

    H.G. Callaway

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