Joe Biden has accomplished his goal of returning bipartisanship to politics. He’s brought conservatives and liberals together in their criticism of how horrendously bad the troop withdrawal of the Afghanistan war has been. That is true both here in the United States and abroad with our NATO allies and other nations. No one is speaking up for Joe Biden’s decision-making process except Democrats here who are dependent upon him to keep their jobs.
The most devastating criticism of Biden so far was the video of the member of Parliament who so poignantly rose to shame Biden for using the Afghan military as his reason for leaving. Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat who served in Afghanistan quietly and powerfully ripped Biden a new one. Parliament held Biden in contempt. Tens of thousands of Afghan soldiers have died over the course of the last 20 years and now Biden justifies washing his hands of the war by accusing them of not fighting for their own country.
Tony Blair, the former British prime minister who was serving in that position when the war began, has a few things to say about Biden’s incompetence. Biden has been busy gaslighting Americans that foreign leaders, NATO allies, and other world figures are just fine with the crisis he has produced in Kabul. Not even the American press, his most vocal supporters, can spin that lie to his advantage. Blair’s strong words on Biden’s performance surprised some bitter clingers to Biden in the press. An article in The Telegraph noted that in January Blair called Biden “the right man in the right place at the right time.” That hasn’t aged well. Reality bit Blair and now he calls Biden an imbecile. Can’t argue with that.
Blair zeroes in on Biden’s “obedience to an imbecilic political slogan about ending “the forever wars” without specifically mentioning Biden’s name.
We didn’t need to do it. We chose to do it. We did it in obedience to an imbecilic political slogan about ending “the forever wars”, as if our engagement in 2021 was remotely comparable to our commitment 20 or even ten years ago, and in circumstances in which troop numbers had declined to a minimum and no allied soldier had lost their life in combat for 18 months.
We did it in the knowledge that though worse than imperfect, and though immensely fragile, there were real gains over the past 20 years. And for anyone who disputes that, read the heartbreaking laments from every section of Afghan society as to what they fear will now be lost. Gains in living standards, education particularly of girls, gains in freedom. Not nearly what we hoped or wanted. But not nothing. Something worth defending. Worth protecting.
We did it when the sacrifices of our troops had made those fragile gains our duty to preserve.
We did it when the February 2020 agreement, itself replete with concessions to the Taliban, by which the US agreed to withdraw if the Taliban negotiated a broad-based government and protected civilians, had been violated daily and derisively.
We did it with every jihadist group around the world cheering.
You’ll note the reference to Trump’s agreement in 2020. The difference is that Trump didn’t go through with a complete withdrawal. It’s hard to believe that he would have produced the results that Biden has produced, which is ironic when you understand how much Biden’s foreign policy experience was a part of his appeal as a presidential candidate. What Biden’s actions over the last week prove is that Biden, instead, has been historically wrong on every foreign policy decision (or vote) he has made. He was very wrong this time.
Theresa May noticed, too. Now a member of Parliament, she had some questions for Prime Minister Boris Johnson. She made a point of putting the blame of the disaster on politicians, not the military.
Mrs May asked Mr Johnson to divulge when he first spoke to the Secretary General of Nato about putting together an alliance to replace American support. He replied saying it was “an illusion” to believe that there is “appetite” among any of our partners for a continued military presence.
Mrs May added that all who served in Afghanistan should hold their heads high, saying: “The politicians sent them there, the politicians decided to withdraw, the politicians must be responsible for the consequences.”
Boris Johnson, who holds the rotating leadership position in the G7 right now, has called a virtual meeting for Tuesday. He said the leaders of the G7 must come together on the way forward.
I will convene G7 leaders on Tuesday for urgent talks on the situation in Afghanistan. It is vital that the international community works together to ensure safe evacuations, prevent a humanitarian crisis and support the Afghan people to secure the gains of the last 20 years.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) August 22, 2021
Blair also noted a concern for the future of Britain since Biden didn’t bother to consult with either Johnson or any of the other leaders in the G7. Biden’s go-it-alone posture isn’t sitting well.
‘For Britain, out of Europe and suffering the end of the Afghanistan mission by our greatest ally with little or no consultation, we have serious reflection to do,’ said Mr Blair. ‘We don’t see it yet, but we are at risk of relegation to the second division of global powers.’
We’re old enough to remember when Biden campaigned on his great relationships with world leaders and how he’d end America First policies. All those G7 leaders fell for it, at least publicly, and Biden was hailed as the anti-Trump at the G7 in England. Now we read that privately Boris Johnson refers to Biden as “Sleepy Joe” and the others are publicly speaking out about Biden’s crisis in Afghanistan.
The White House appears to be doing some selective editing on readouts from Biden’s calls to world leaders. After a call with French President Macron, the White House’s readout omitted Macon’s plea for the evacuation of Afghan helpers. Macron calls it a “moral responsibility.”
The French government’s readout of the conversation was released on Friday, a day after the call took place, and indicates that Macron emphasised ensuring the safe evacuation of Afghan citizens who assisted American and European troops over the past 20 years at great risk to themselves and their families.
According to the readout, Macron described the mission to evacuate allies as a “moral responsibility” and told Biden: “We cannot abandon them.”
The Élysée said Macron “underlined the absolute need to ensure rapid and concrete coordination among allies on the ground to continue the evacuations”.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel rightly said it was an American political decision.
“This is an extremely bitter development. Bitter, dramatic and terrifying,” said the chancellor.
“It is a terrible development for the millions of Afghans who want a more liberal society,” she said.
“I am thinking of the pain of families of soldiers who lost their lives fighting there. Now everything seems so hopeless.”
Earlier, according to participants at a meeting of party members, Merkel said she believed the US decision to press ahead with the withdrawal was taken for “domestic political reasons” were partly to blame.
The leader of her party, Armin Laschet, went further, calling the entire Afghanistan operation a failure and the withdrawal “the biggest debacle that NATO has suffered since its founding.”
We’ll see what comes out of the G7 virtual meeting Tuesday.