A quietly brutal speech, worth every minute of your time. Tom Tugendhat is a veteran of the British military who was stationed in Helmand province and is among the many, many people to take issue with Biden’s self-serving claim this week that Americans shouldn’t be asked to fight for people who won’t fight for themselves. They did fight, Tugendhat reminds him. In fact, they took 500 times more KIAs in the past six years than we did. The idea that Afghan troops failed because they lacked the guts rather than the logistical support to carry on is a useful deception for the White House in convincing Americans with misgivings that withdrawal wasn’t just strategically correct but morally correct.
“Those who have never fought for the colors they fly should be careful about criticizing those who have,” Tugendhat says icily in reference to Biden, to murmurs of approval from the House of Commons.
It’s hard to believe that the president could have made this week’s humiliation worse by the speech he gave on Monday but he did. Tugendhat’s remarks make that clear. Watch, then read on.
An extraordinary and moving speech from veteran MP Tom Tugendhat, with very harsh words for President Biden on Afghanistan
“To see their commander in chief call into question the courage of men I fought with, is shameful.” pic.twitter.com/ZgEEHwD9MI
— James Longman (@JamesAALongman) August 18, 2021
Lying about the valor of Afghan troops isn’t the only self-serving lie Biden told on Monday. Another was his preposterous claim that Afghans who aided the U.S. weren’t clamoring to leave because they wanted to make a go of it at home after America left. That talking point was the White House’s way of shifting blame for the fiasco unfolding at the Kabul airport onto the Afghans themselves and now a member of Biden’s own party has called BS on him for it. Seth Moulton is a Democratic member of the House but also a Marine who served with distinction in Iraq. He couldn’t sit by silently while this lie was told:
“I mean, don’t tell me that Afghans don’t want to leave when there’s been a backlog of Special Immigrant Visa applications for over a decade,” he said. “Don’t tell me they don’t want to leave when they’re literally clinging to airplanes to try to get out of this country. That was the single part of the president’s speech that I not only disagreed with but I thought was just utter BS.”…
“I don’t think anybody anticipated the Taliban taking over so quickly,” Moulton said Tuesday. “But the president said in his speech that he planned for every contingency. I think it’s pretty obvious they did not plan for this contingency.”
Meanwhile Ryan Crocker, who served as ambassador to Afghanistan under Obama, went on Fox News yesterday to reiterate what he said earlier this week, that he now has grave doubts about Biden’s ability to lead as commander-in-chief. There are debacles, there are major debacles, and then there are debacles when people otherwise sympathetic to your administration like Moulton and Crocker are openly scoffing at your competence to any reporter who’ll listen.
It’d be bad enough if only Americans’ faith in the capabilities of the U.S. government had been shaken but Tugendhat’s speech shows that it’s been shaken abroad too. The most scathing line in his remarks comes in the middle when he talks about reinvigorating NATO as a true European alliance rather than have the continent rely for its security on a certain undependable ally abroad who shall remain nameless. Other western allies are drawing similarly hard lessons about American power this week. An arresting headline from WaPo: “Withdrawal from Afghanistan forces allies and adversaries to reconsider America’s global role.”
“This kind of troop withdrawal caused chaos,” Latvia’s defense minister, Artis Pabriks, said in a radio interview Tuesday, noting the demise of long-term nation-building projects and how the decision to withdraw was essentially foisted on Europeans. “This era is over. Unfortunately, the West, and Europe in particular, are showing they are weaker globally.”
Germany’s conservative candidate to succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel, Armin Laschet, on Tuesday called the withdrawal of forces “the greatest debacle that NATO has experienced since its foundation.”…
Critics of Biden’s policy seized on that rhetoric as the Taliban swept into Kabul and many women and girls sheltered at home in fear of a return to the militants’ harsh rule that had banned women from education and work when the Taliban was last in power.
“Whatever happened to ‘America is back’?” said Tobias Ellwood, who chairs the Defense Committee in the British Parliament, noting Biden’s promise to rebuild alliances and restore America’s place in the world.
Why would anyone rely on a country that couldn’t evacuate its domestic support staff in a timely manner after giving notice of its intent to withdraw 18 months ago? And whose leader then turned around and blamed the locals for their misfortune after he cut off the logistical support they needed for their self-defense?
The Pax Americana is over. What follows will be terrible.