To recap, at this very moment we’re facing a situation in Kabul in which (a) we’re abiding by a Taliban deadline because there’s no alternative that doesn’t end with lots of Americans dead, (b) we’re planning to abandon American citizens and many, many Afghan friendlies behind enemy lines, and (c) we’ll probably end up paying a king’s ransom to the jihadi degenerates now in charge of Afghanistan for the safe passage of anyone who doesn’t make it out before next Tuesday.
Other than that, I’d agree that things are going swimmingly.
This morning Jonathan Last compared the evacuation to that window of time on the morning of 9/11 when the Towers had already been hit but hadn’t yet collapsed. Could the people inside be rescued? How much loss of life were we looking at? We’d find out within two hours that day but the clusterfark in Kabul will play out for days to come, with immense risk of American casualties at every step. One would think under those circumstances that the White House would want to avoid taking a premature victory lap, particularly when they’ve already had a “Mission Accomplished” moment on the COVID front lately.
How far out of touch with reality are these people?
Top Biden officials and administration allies have begun aggressively touting the success of their evacuation efforts in the war-torn country, offering frequent updates on the number of evacuees. They’ve framed the operation as historic — in line with the Berlin airlift — declared that they’re “over performing” their own metrics, and trumpeted the president as “defying expectations.”…
Buoyed by the evacuation numbers, aides and allies have gone from feeling beleaguered to galvanized, taking to social media and the airwaves to let out the grievances about press coverage they’ve been harboring privately since the crisis began, and to make the case that the White House’s accomplishments should get more credit and attention. They’ve noted that the evacuation figures exceed the estimates the administration initially put out and that the press corps said was possible…
For Biden’s defenders, however, the evacuation resembles a truly concrete achievement, and underscores a new reality that deserves broader recognition: after taking heaps of criticism over the collapse of Kabul, the president now has a success story to tell…
“Tuesday of last week it seemed like the Taliban at any moment was going to start murdering people,” the [foreign policy] operative added. “It looked like a total, total disaster … people are going to be left behind. But we’re getting tens of thousands of people out and it looks a lot better.”
Imagine how badly you’d have to screw up to end up in a situation where the U.S. military is forced to abandon Americans to the Taliban and that represents an improvement over how things looked a few days ago. Or imagine tweeting about the strength of American alliances at a moment when members of the British Parliament are saying things like, “UK-US relations are about to enter their lowest point since Suez.”
From @SecBlinken, to our ambassadors abroad, to our desk officers here in DC, the @StateDept is running an unprecedented diplomatic effort to reach agreements with our allies and partners to transit and host Americans, foreign nationals, and at-risk Afghans.
— Wendy R. Sherman (@DeputySecState) August 24, 2021
No other nation—none—could have put together this global network of countries on four continents to host evacuees. When we say we’re putting our alliances and partnerships front and center—this is why. In times of crisis, we have each other’s backs.
— Wendy R. Sherman (@DeputySecState) August 24, 2021
For more happy talk in that vein, scroll through Ron Klain’s Twitter timeline for a series of virtual high-fives with lefties celebrating the administration’s half-assed, hastily organized evacuation operation. As many people have mercifully left Afghanistan this past week, there are still agonizing and inexplicable lapses like this happening:
An almost empty charter evacuation flight out of Kabul. 1 of 3 planes organized by George and Maria @Abihabib to get 1,000 Afghans to Uganda. Many were blocked by the US and the Taliban and so the first plane, with 345 seats, only had 50 passengers. https://t.co/4IrUmxjFDP pic.twitter.com/DfUANnt9Pk
— Alexander Marquardt (@MarquardtA) August 25, 2021
Team Biden wants congratulations for putting together “one of the biggest airlifts in world history,” as one senior official boasted to Politico, even though the operation was only made necessary in the first place by the administration’s incompetence, first in failing to recognize how quickly the Taliban would advance across Afghanistan and second by pulling the logistical rug out from under the Afghan army. Sami Sadat, a general in that army, has a piece at the Times today explaining why his forces collapsed so quickly. Partly it was due to the corruption of his own government, he admits, and partly to the terrible withdrawal deadline negotiated by Trump and Mike Pompeo last year. But Biden’s White House also left his troops crippled by removing the foundations of Afghan operations:
The Afghan forces were trained by the Americans using the U.S. military model based on highly technical special reconnaissance units, helicopters and airstrikes. We lost our superiority to the Taliban when our air support dried up and our ammunition ran out.
Contractors maintained our bombers and our attack and transport aircraft throughout the war. By July, most of the 17,000 support contractors had left. A technical issue now meant an aircraft — a Black Hawk helicopter, a C-130 transport, a surveillance drone — would be grounded.
The contractors also took proprietary software and weapons systems with them. They physically removed our helicopter missile-defense system. Access to the software that we relied on to track our vehicles, weapons and personnel also disappeared. Real-time intelligence on targets went out the window, too.
Once their helicopters couldn’t operate, they couldn’t resupply their own troops in the provinces.
But look on the bright side: At least we got one of the biggest airlifts in world history out of it.
If you’re wondering how many Americans are left in the country and need evacuating by Tuesday — or, really, Friday, since the troops will begin evacuating this weekend — the State Department can’t get its story straight on that:
In a briefing to congressional staff, the State Department said that 4100 American citizens are still actively seeking to get out of Afghanistan, a Senate aide tells me. Not all the Americans are located in/around Kabul. The US has evacuated approx. 4,400 Americans already.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) August 25, 2021
State Department now tells me the BRIEFER MISSPOKE on this call, and the 4100 number is not accurate.
State did not provide an accurate number, said Blinken will speak to this later. https://t.co/fYV9aDVScU
— Jacqui Heinrich (@JacquiHeinrich) August 25, 2021
Tony Blinken clarified a few hours ago that they’ve evacuated 4,500 of what they believe to be around 6,000 Americans total in Afghanistan and are in touch with another 500. As for the 1,000 with whom they’re not in touch, *shrug.* Remember, the best-case scenario at this point is that every American gets out safely in the next 72 hours and it’s “only” thousands upon thousands of Afghans with U.S. visas who get left behind to be murdered by the Taliban. That’s the “success story” the administration wants to tell.
I’ll leave you with John Kirby, who’s promising that the Pentagon will work to the very end to get Americans out but conspicuously isn’t promising that every American will get out.
Biden's Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby: we will evacuate Americans “up until the end” pic.twitter.com/wLha8xl8Wr
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) August 25, 2021