Biden still botching up Afghanistan


From the moment the Afghanistan debacle began to dominate the news, President Biden has steadfastly refused to distinguish between those who are opposed to the Unites States withdrawing troops from the country per se, and those who believe that the White House has badly botched the withdrawal. “How many more generations of America’s daughters and sons would you have me send to fight?” he asked last week.

This question is non-responsive to the charge at hand, which is why an American public that overwhelmingly thinks we should get out is punishing Biden in the polls nevertheless. Americans want to leave, it seems. But they don’t want to leave like this. And Biden, they believe, is firmly in charge of the this.

Has the president grasped this yet?

By all accounts, Biden hopes that, over time, the details of the withdrawal will fade in voters’ memories, while the fact of the withdrawal will pay political dividends. And maybe he’s right to think that! The thing is, though, he has to get there first — and, as of today, he is nowhere near doing that.

In the immediate aftermath of the fall of Kabul, Biden hosted two disastrous press conferences, insisted repeatedly on returning to his vacation, and embarrassed and infuriated his closest international allies by being either completely absent or unacceptably tardy. And he’s still going. Today, the White House announced that the president remains determined to remove all troops by August 31st — even if Americans are still stranded, which, if the math is to be believed, they probably will be. And, as if that weren’t bad enough, the military has already started “reducing troop presence” — slap bang in the middle of a frantic, ongoing, and artificially time-limited evacuation drive — while the U.S. Embassy issues and then rescinds last call alerts for U.S. citizens and the Taliban begins blocking Americans from reaching the airport.

In the interests of accuracy, it may be time now to update the tense. Biden hasn’t merely “botched” the withdrawal. As an active matter, he’s still botching it.

If he wishes, President Biden can pretend that everything is going to plan and that what we are seeing on our screens is a triumph. But it’s not, and in no area is this as obvious as his betrayal of the “former Afghan military interpreters or other close U.S. allies” he once flatly promised he would help.

Today, the New York Times reports that:

On Monday, a State Department official said that some former Afghan military interpreters or other close U.S. allies, a designated priority group for evacuations, were being turned away from the airport by American officials in order to give priority to U.S. passport and Green Card holders in recent days. The official was not authorized to brief the press, and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The official’s account was supported by interviews with Afghans who have approached the airport in recent days, and with American veterans’ groups and other organizations that have tried to organize evacuations for interpreters and other Afghans at risk from the Taliban.

Clearly, this was not the expectation, as Joe Biden made clear back in June:

The Biden administration will evacuate thousands of Afghan interpreters as the U.S. military withdraws from the country, with planning speeding up this week as Afghan leaders visit the White House and the Pentagon.

“We’ve already begun the process,” said President Joe Biden, speaking with reporters outside the White House on June 24. “Those who helped us are not going to be left behind.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said earlier this week that about 18,000 people have expressed interest in using the Special Immigrant Visas for Afghans to come to the United States as Afghanistan has grown more violent with Taliban gains.

“The idea here is to be able to facilitate their departure from Afghanistan to another location so that they can complete the SIV process,” Pentagon spokesman John F. Kirby said June 24, adding that it is not known how many could come to the United States.

Disgrace.

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