NPR, NYT: A year ago, the Taliban took over Afghanistan all on its own, or something

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Big kudos to Ben Shapiro for catching these sins of omission from NPR and the New York Times. The first anniversary of Joe Biden’s catastrophic retreat/rout from Afghanistan shows the devastating effects of the ill-conceived and badly executed withdrawal, from the oppression of women and the targeting of political dissidents to outright starvation under the Taliban.

And yet, to read these accounts from two of the biggest media outlets in the US, the collapse never even involved the US or Biden. NPR:

After two decades of insurgency, the Taliban exhausted the world’s most powerful military and their NATO allies, which agreed to withdraw from the country in a deal signed in February 2020. As Western troops were concluding their withdrawal last summer, the Taliban oversaw the rapid surrender, defeat or co-option of Afghan security forces — forces they saw as aiding a foreign occupation.

Today, the Taliban’s particular interpretation of Islamic law is being imposed in fits and starts, largely over women and girls: Most girls cannot attend secondary schools. They may not travel long distances without a male guardian. Women report being hounded out of their jobs. They’ve been ordered to cover their faces in public, although the rule is only applied to women on television so far.

Er … who agreed to withdraw? Donald Trump did, and he doesn’t get a mention. Joe Biden actually conducted the withdrawal, and his name doesn’t appear in this article anywhere either. Neither man proposed to withdraw so that the Taliban could seize power by force; Trump planned to support the Afghan government and military, while Biden decided to yank all support for it in the spring and summer of 2021, which lead to their rapid collapse in the face of a Taliban military offensive in July 2021 that violated all of the agreements made.

NPR tries to paint the Taliban takeover as a mixed-bag positive to boot:

There are changes perhaps less noticed outside of Afghanistan: Afghans are living in relative security for the first time in decades. Aid groups reach areas that were previously off-limits. Primary-age boys and girls are attending schools in greater numbers, because it is now safe for them to go. “Of course, it’s very cynical of the Taliban to say: We brought peace, I was shooting at you and now I stopped shooting at you,” retorted a Western official who closely follows the Taliban, and who requested anonymity so he could speak freely.

The Taliban have raised some $2.5 billion through customs revenue and mining. They’re shipping so much coal to Pakistan that there’s a truck shortage. “They’re working on energy and infrastructure projects in a way that looks like it’s moving better and faster than under the Republic,” said the Western official, referring to the former Afghan government.

Well, yeah … because the Taliban constantly attacked such operations in the Republic. Besides, this has a whiff of “trains running on time” spin, no? Yes, women are forced into full coverings and have no rights, girls get no education, and everyone must obey the diktats of a seventh-century theocracy (again), but hey, they’re exporting coal!

At least the New York Times dispenses with that kind of happy talk, but once again the collapse of Afghanistan takes place in the passive voice:

Girls are barred from secondary schools and women from traveling any significant distance without a male relative. Men in government offices are told to grow beards, wear traditional Afghan clothes and prayer caps, and stop work for prayers.

Music is officially banned, and foreign news broadcasts, TV shows and movies have been removed from public airwaves. At checkpoints along the streets, morality police chastise women who are not covered from head to toe in all-concealing burqas and headpieces in public.

A year into Taliban rule, Afghanistan has seemed to hurtle backward in time. The country’s new rulers, triumphant after two decades of insurgency, have reinstituted an emirate governed by a strict interpretation of Islamic law and issued a flood of edicts curtailing women’s rights, institutionalizing patriarchal customs, restricting journalists and effectively erasing many vestiges of an American-led occupation and nation-building effort. …

That international isolation is exacerbating an economic and humanitarian crisis that has engulfed the country since the Western-backed government collapsed last year, and the country’s alienation is likely to deepen, since American officials accused the Taliban of harboring the leader of Al Qaeda this month.

It just collapsed all on its own, eh? Once again, as Ben pointed out, the name “Biden” appears nowhere in this anniversary analysis. Not once does the NYT or NPR assess Biden’s role in these results of the collapse, especially given his insistence one month before the collapse that the Taliban wouldn’t seize control. Remember this?

Well, we do. Apparently NPR and the NYT don’t.

Republicans do, however, and they plan to make sure everyone focuses on the proximate cause of the disasters that befell Afghanistan. The Dallas Morning News got an advance look at the minority report from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and no one will have any trouble finding Biden’s name all over the catastrophic and craven decisions that went into the withdrawal:

A 121-page interim report that Republicans on the Foreign Affairs Committee plan to release Tuesday offers a scathing assessment of Biden’s decisions and the ensuing fallout. …

Biden, said McCaul, “owns this – absolutely 100% percent he owns it. He made the decision.”

The GOP report was compiled without subpoena authority.

As the majority party, Republicans could compel testimony and make the second half of Biden’s term uncomfortable. The report calls for hearings featuring Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, among many others.

“While even senior administration officials have described the end of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan as a `strategic failure’ and an `ugly final phase,’ the Biden administration has yet to hold anyone accountable for the execution of the withdrawal and evacuation operations,” the report says. …

“The administration … misled the American public about the military advice President Biden had received regarding Afghanistan,” the GOP report says. “President Biden chose to ignore the advice of his top military and diplomatic officials, as well as that of America’s closest allies who sought to make the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan contingent on the Taliban taking real steps towards peace.”

Nor, says the report, did the U.S. government “take steps to prevent the release of thousands of al Qaeda, ISIS, and Taliban prisoners from Afghanistan government prisons.”

If and when Republicans take back the House, bet on a flurry of subpoenas to further investigate this fiasco. And then get ready for all the mainstream media coverage about Republicans pouncing, rather than Biden’s disgrace.

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