Did Joe Biden engineer the collapse of Afghanistan? Karl Eikenberry should know. He served as Barack Obama’s ambassador to Afghanistan for two years, from 2009-2011, the same period in which Richard Holbrooke’s diary captured Biden’s “F*** that” about Afghans. In an interview with the BBC today, Eikenberry said that the rapid collapse of Afghanistan shouldn’t have surprised anyone, least of all the Pentagon or Joe Biden.
We had built the Afghan army to be highly dependent on American support, Eikenberry explains. Yanking that support, especially as suddenly as Biden did it, essentially “pulled the plumbing” out of the army and led to its immediate collapse:
Interestingly, there seems to be little interest in Eikenberry’s remarks. No one has picked up on them other than the BBC itself, at least as of this writing (~12:45 ET). That seems surpassingly strange, given Eikenberry’s service as both ambassador to Afghanistan as well as his two tours in Afghanistan as a general, the second as the commander of American forces in Afghanistan. If anyone understands how the US built the Afghan army, it’s Eikenberry.
So why hasn’t any US media outlet bothered to look up Eikenberry and ask him the same question? Hmmm.
One has to wonder whether the answer is so obvious that some media outlets simply aren’t interested in pursuing it. However, Biden as well as the rest of the White House and the Pentagon continue to insist that they had no idea the Afghan army could collapse as quickly as it did. Others have repeatedly pointed out what Eikenberry does here, but with much less visibility in the media. The US engineered the Afghan army to collapse without our support. Why would it surprise anyone to see it collapse once we kicked the struts out from underneath it?
That raises the question of whether Joe Biden created the collapse out of incompetence or malice. Hanlon’s Razor applies here, but we should also refer back to Holbrooke’s diary as well. It’s not just incompetence that drove Biden’s preferred policy of total withdrawal, which he tried to implement as far back as 2009. In 2010, Biden angrily refused to consider whether the US had any interest in the plight of Afghans:
The commander-in-chief allegedly made the callous remark back in 2010 when he was vice president, while speaking to US diplomat Richard Holbrooke.
At the time, Biden reportedly was arguing that the US should leave Afghanistan despite the humanitarian costs, including the potential erosion of women’s rights.
“F–k that. We don’t have to worry about that,” he allegedly told Holbrooke. “We did it in Vietnam. Nixon and Kissinger got away with it.”
The conversation between the pair was documented in Holbrooke’s diary that was eventually included in George Packer’s 2019 book, “Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century.”
Holbrooke also wrote that Biden “erupted” when he specifically mentioned women’s rights.
“I am not sending my boy back there to risk his life on behalf of women’s rights, it just won’t work, that’s not what they’re there for,” Biden said, according to Holbrooke.
Let’s not even consider the lack of media interest in Eikenberry’s perspective. Did Biden bother to ask Eikenberry about his plans for running out of Afghanistan? Did anyone in Pentagon leadership bother to call up Eikenberry and get his thoughts on the subject? I’d almost guarantee that the answer to these questions is a resounding no, and that in fact no one was interested in dissenting opinions from Biden’s policy no matter how well-versed those objections would be.
That doesn’t mean that Biden set out to deliberately destroy the work of twenty years and produce a Taliban takeover within days. It strongly suggests, however, that Biden didn’t give a **** about the consequences of his retreat. All he wanted was the chance to crow about ending the “forever wars” regardless of the consequences for Afghans, or for the US.