CNN reporter in Kabul: These Taliban fighters are chanting "death to America" but they seem friendly

Ripping quotes from “enemy” media out of context to make them look stupid or craven is a fun bipartisan pastime but this is a nasty example given the risk Clarissa Ward is facing to report live from Kabul as the barbarians roll in.

Is that what she’s doing? Cheerleading for the Taliban by trying to convince CNN’s gullible left-leaning audience that they’re actually “friendly”?

She isn’t. For one thing, no one who’d make a wardrobe adjustment as drastic as this in 24 hours is confused about the nature of the new regime:

As an American and a woman, she’s an obvious target. The hijab is a small way to mitigate the threat of violence to her and her crew.

Watch the full segment below and you’ll see that she’s not whitewashing the Taliban. She makes a point of showing how one group of them forced her to “stand aside” because she’s female. She tells the anchors that fewer women are on the streets of Kabul today and that those who are out and about are wearing burqas, obvious evidence of fear of the new government. She’s unsparing about the chaos unleashed by Biden’s terrible withdrawal plans too, noting that there’s no plan in place to evacuate American allies trapped in the city and that U.S. troops are barely able to keep order at the airport. Even her line about the Taliban seeming “friendly” while they chant “death to America” is qualified by her noting that it’s “bizarre.”

Which it is. She’s not making up the “friendly” bit. You can see for yourself on the footage that they’re tolerating her presence and willing to give interviews. Maybe it’s giddiness at their moment of triumph or maybe they view her and her camera as a useful conduit to address American audiences, but they’re not overtly hostile to her. The fact that she’s able to report from the street — for now — without being threatened is proof enough.

This isn’t a whitewash. And frankly, she has balls of steel to still be there doing her job not knowing when or if a flight out will be available to her. Watch, then read on.

Ward isn’t the only journalist still on the ground. More than a hundred people who worked for the U.S. government’s radio stations in Kabul somehow haven’t been evacuated thanks to Biden’s withdrawal fiasco. “The Afghans working for the U.S. government broadcasters in Kabul and around the country have long been targets of the insurgents, who killed a journalist with Radio Free Afghanistan in a targeted bombing in November,” the Times reported today. “Everybody is locked down in their homes, and no one knows what happens tomorrow,” said one to the NYT.

Ward’s under no illusions about what the Taliban takeover means. We shouldn’t be under any illusions about what it means for American preeminence either. Kurt Volker writes:

The Biden Administration has defined China as the most important strategic threat to the United States. If a band of brutal Islamist extremists can defeat the United States, China will have no doubt that with time, resources, and good organization, it will also prevail against the United States in its neighborhood. Russia will not take seriously any threat to push back on its military aggression and absorption of territory belonging to its neighbors. ISIS and al-Qaeda will use the Taliban victory to renew calls for jihad against the United States.

Allies will become even more reluctant to commit troops and treasure to an American-led coalition when they know Americans can turn on a dime without so much as consulting those who have put their own soldiers’ lives on the line.

The retribution against those in Afghanistan who took a chance on building democracy, on working with the United States, and on educating women, will be so brutal and public it will deter people all over the world from taking similar risks against authoritarian forces anywhere.

Chinese propaganda outlets are crowing today about America’s humiliation. “The truth is, this is even worse than the Saigon moment. No major power was behind the Afghan Taliban, but the US lost anyway. The US calls the move a drawdown. It is, in the truest sense, a meltdown,” reads a column at the Global Times. “[I]f the US cannot even secure a victory in a rivalry with small countries, how much better could it do in a major power game with China?” Or, in case that’s too subtle:

Robin Wright at the New Yorker wrote, “The fall of Kabul may serve as a bookend for the era of U.S. global power,” comparing the glory of America rescuing Europe and defeating the Japanese empire 75 years ago to ceding Afghanistan to jihadist cavemen now. That’s how it feels this afternoon, that the age of America as a seemingly invincible power is well and truly over.

And as hard as it is to say, the utter pandemonium of the evacuation from Kabul is a more fitting final chapter than an orderly retreat would have been. The supreme lesson of the last 20 years is that we just don’t know what we’re doing. Typically our failures are blamed on a lack of “will” but we gave 20 years, many billions of dollars, and thousands of lives to try to stand up a semi-functioning state in Afghanistan. It collapsed in a week once we left. The thousands of troops at the airport in Kabul right now don’t lack nerve or will in accomplishing their mission. Neither does Ward, for that matter. The problem isn’t will, the problem is that our leadership is incompetent and the incompetence afflicts both parties. There’s no cure for it as far as I can see.

We should stay far away from other foreign conflicts for many years to come, as there’s no reason to expect any improvement in outcomes. Sorry, Taiwan. And South Korea. And eastern Europe.

I’ll leave you with this, further evidence that CNN isn’t softballing the Taliban today. Or Biden, for that matter.