“I’m not going to comment on hypotheticals,” he says when asked about the fact that withdrawal is supposed to be complete by August 31 even though there are an estimated 10,000 — or is it 40,000? — Americans still in the country.
Which is not the correct answer.
The correct f***ing answer is “We’ll get every American out, no matter what it takes. Full stop.”
Why hasn’t this guy been fired yet?
#Afghanistan Nat Sec Adviser Jake Sullivan says he's "not going to comment on hypotheticals" about what U.S. troops will do if all Americans + Afghan allies aren't out by Biden's August 31 deadline. “So you can't commit to bringing back every American?" pic.twitter.com/vGJql3sVhc
— Catherine Herridge (@CBS_Herridge) August 17, 2021
Psaki was also asked for a promise that no man will be left behind. And also gave the wrong answer:
Biden Press Secretary Jen Psaki can’t offer any guarantee that all Americans will be evacuated from Afghanistan pic.twitter.com/0XKueyBXCg
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) August 17, 2021
Sullivan said elsewhere during today’s briefing that the Taliban has guaranteed safe passage for civilians to the airport. “So Americans are meant to trust their lives to the good graces of the Taliban? Is that really the plan?” tweeted an incredulous Josh Rogin in response.
That really is the plan. According to CBS News, this message was sent to Americans in Kabul today. They should head for the airport — but do so knowing that there’s no way for Uncle Sam to prevent them from being murdered if they do.
The below note went out this afternoon to American citizens requesting to be evacuated from Afghanistan, @alanacbs reports. It instructs people to come to Hamid Karzai Intl Airport in Kabul, but says the US govt cannot guarantee their safety as they make the trip. @CBSNews pic.twitter.com/rgEyjGup4K
— Sara Cook (@saraecook) August 17, 2021
“We intend to hold them to that commitment,” said Sullivan when asked about the Taliban’s promise of safe passage. Hold them to it how? What cards do we have to play?
Is the world’s superpower in a position of having to bribe jihadi cavemen not to slaughter our own citizens en route to the exit? Because, short of threatening a few ineffectual bombing runs on Taliban targets as reprisals, I’m not sure what our options are to deter that from happening short of paying them.
What a way that would be to end our time in Afghanistan, having the Marines drive around the city picking up American citizens for transport to the airport and handing out fat envelopes to the Taliban at checkpoints as they go. I thought we’d maxxed out on national humiliation this week, but stay tuned.
Sullivan did make one meaningful point during today’s presser. Does this help explain why the evacuation planning was so piss-poor?
He acknowledged there are serious questions “about whether we should have drawn down our embassy and evacuated our Afghan allies earlier,” saying, “These are reasonable questions.”
“We did dramatically accelerate the SIV process and move out a substantial number of SIV applicants and their families,” Sullivan said. “But the Afghan government and its supporters, including many of the people now seeking to leave, made a passionate case that we should not conduct a mass evacuation lest we trigger a loss of confidence in the government.”
I can understand why they thought ordering a mass evacuation before Kabul was under threat would have caused panic and potentially a collapse in morale among Afghan forces. But that gets us back to this story, about the collective delusion that seemingly everyone involved in the conflict entertained that the country might hang together for some meaningful time after we left. If U.S. intelligence had seen the writing on the wall early we could have proceeded with the evacuations weeks ago knowing that that was the least bad option in light of what was coming, notwithstanding the panic that would have ensued. Instead the White House, the military, the intel bureaus, and even the Afghan government hung on to their belief that control of Afghanistan was yet to be determined and that operations should carry on without haste in a spirit of optimism.
And now we are where we are.
Here’s the second-worst soundbite from today’s Sullivan presser, by the way:
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan: Biden “has not” spoken with any foreign leaders after botched withdrawal from Afghanistan pic.twitter.com/suR7hM5ws0
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) August 17, 2021
The leader of the free world hasn’t spoken with *any* of our allies as this debacle unfolds on every television on the planet? No regional powers either? Pakistan? India? A cordial chat with China to urge them to keep their mitts off Taiwan, in case they had any funny ideas about American resolve?
No chats with any friendly leaders, Muslim or otherwise, to ask about them accepting some Afghan refugees?
Well, Biden is on vacation right now. Maybe he unplugged for a few days. I’m sure it’ll be fine.