If you have yet to read Allahpundit’s post on the Pentagon briefing this afternoon about the debacle in Afghanistan, do so. Perhaps your blood pressure will handle it better than mine. In a remarkable few minutes, the assembled leadership of the most powerful military in the world explained that they couldn’t act to provide safe conduct for tens of thousands of Americans and our allies from a country that’s returning to the seventh century in front of our eyes.
At the risk of re-using some of this material, let’s step through the many, many levels of humiliation and failure on display. First and foremost, the man who sits atop the military chain of command blithely declared that, despite twenty years of experience in Afghanistan, he had no idea that the country would collapse so quickly after the Biden administration yanked all logistical and intel support from the military we set up:
Gen. Mark Milley on Afghanistan: "There was nothing that I or anyone else saw that indicated a collapse of this army or this government in 11 days." pic.twitter.com/o1PpeglvFn
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 18, 2021
Excuse me? Isn’t that the job of the Pentagon to know and understand these situations, especially in the middle of a retreat? It’s Milley’s core responsibility to know these potential outcomes, even those with smaller odds. This is nothing less than an admission of incompetence, even putting aside the fact that the rout began two weeks ago when the Taliban first captured a provincial capital. When military leaders admit that they didn’t see a disaster that unfolded before their very eyes, either it’s a lie or an admission of utter incompetence. Either way, it’s a declaration that should be attached to a resignation.
Next, we have the top man in the civilian chain of command under the president telling reporters that they’re more concerned with a “ticking clock” than with ensuring the safety of every American in the region:
Biden’s Defense Secretary says they’ll only evacuate Americans “until the clock runs out or we run out of capability.” This is the team that told us they planned for every contingency. pic.twitter.com/EA2YHGxMym
— Arthur Schwartz (@ArthurSchwartz) August 18, 2021
Let’s be clear on this — we aren’t running out of “capability,” we’re running out of the will to use it. The US has a standing army of just over one million soldiers when combining regular units with National Guard and Army Reserve personnel. We have over 200,000 Marines as well. The US has a global logistical organization second to none in getting resources around the world. This isn’t an issue of a “ticking clock,” except in the self-limitation of complying with an August 31 deadline that Biden arbitrarily set.
When did the US military go from “leave no man behind” to “you’re on your own”? The American citizens who are stuck in Kabul and Afghanistan came there to assist their country’s mission. Whether one agrees with that mission or not, can’t we all agree that the country owes them security and safe passage out? And who is supposed to uphold those traditions and the honor of our country if not its military leadership?
If Austin won’t use those capabilities to come to the rescue of Americans because Joe Biden forbids it, then he should resign and tell the world why. If Austin won’t use those capabilities because he just doesn’t want to do so, he should resign for failing his duty to protect Americans at home and abroad. It’s that simple.
Thousands of Americans have been left behind in their rush to the exits in Afghanistan, and either both were too incompetent to see this outcome or didn’t care enough about it to matter. They and this administration has created a national disgrace with few parallels in recent history, not even Saigon. If they had any honor at all, their resignations would have followed this shameful press briefing. If they don’t have the requisite honor to resign, then they need to be fired, along with every other military leader that acquiesced to this disgraceful rout and abandoned our citizens.
That is, of course, if Joe Biden can be bothered to come back to the White House from his vacation to deal with this collapse of American credibility. I’d appeal to Biden’s honor and ask for his resignation, but Biden never had any to begin with, except that which he stole from Neil Kinnock.
Addendum: And for the fools on Twitter who keep claiming that the “peace agreement” negotiated by the Trump administration tied the hands of his successor, please note the following from CNN’s Peter Bergen:
First, the Taliban never observed the terms of that agreement, including that they would break ties with al-Qaeda. According to a UN report released earlier this year, they didn’t.
Second, the agreement said that the Taliban would enter genuine peace negotiations with the Afghan government. That didn’t happen either.
Third, the US-Taliban agreement was negotiated without any input from the Afghan government — which, after all, was the elected government of the country. Conveniently for the Taliban, they don’t believe in elections. …
What the administration has done in Afghanistan doesn’t make much sense. Biden could have easily said the Taliban had reneged on their agreement with the United States so he could continue to keep a relatively small US military force in Afghanistan to advise and assist the Afghan Army and to support the Afghan Air Force to thwart Taliban advances.
But Biden also believes in the merits of leaving Afghanistan regardless of Trump’s agreement with the Taliban. He argues that the US can’t be mired in endless wars, even though the American presence in Afghanistan had shrunk to only 2,500 troops — particularly few for a force of 1.3 million active-duty US service personnel. That small force helped to sustain the Afghan military physically and psychologically, not least with close air support.
This bug-out has been Biden’s preferred policy since 2009. Trump may have been foolish to negotiate with the Taliban (and he was), but it has literally nothing to do with Biden’s actions over the seven months of his presidency. This disgrace is entirely — entirely — on the current president.
Update: Glenn Reynolds reaches the same conclusion I did. Time to clean house:
This is the biggest foreign failure in most Americans’ lifetimes, and there needs to be an accounting. The normal course of business after government bungling nowadays is that everyone involved tut-tuts a bit, then gets a raise and a promotion, while the government goes back to business as usual.
But in a sane nation, failure would be punished.
To begin with, Milley must resign or be fired. And the same for our triple-masking defense secretary, Lloyd Austin. This was a failure that happened on their watch, and it happened through bad management. We could have pulled out without nearly the level of chaos, confusion and terror. …
Likewise, the intel agencies and officers who provided the bad, er, intelligence need to go. Many others who failed, from contractors to lower-level officers and bureaucrats, need to go, too. You punish a bureaucracy by shrinking its staff and cutting its budget. That needs to happen here.
The brass and agencies will complain that it was Biden who ultimately made the call. Indeed, they are already furiously leaking to that effect to the press. Maybe they’re right. But it’s up to voters to fire the president at the ballot box. If they thought what Biden planned was disastrous, they should have resigned in protest. But they didn’t.
Be sure to read it all.
Update: Emily Litella — er, Joe Biden — now says never mind about ticking clocks:
— ABC News (@ABC) August 18, 2021
This guy is just making it up as he goes along. Austin needs to resign more than ever for getting back-doored by this empty suit.