August 17, 2021

Setting the Stage for Disaster in Afghanistan

Biden bears ultimate responsibility now, but perhaps not all of it.

The massive Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan coming on the heels of the announcement American troops would be completely pulled out by August 31 has been stunning. We’ve discussed the situation a number of times prior to these recent events, but it’s still appalling to watch our warnings play out in real time.

The harsh reality is that when Donald Trump took office, winning the war in Afghanistan was a highly remote possibility at best. In addition, between Spygate and other abuses, addressing the misdeeds and threats from communist China, border security, an insubordinate bureaucracy, and other issues that demanded attention, there was precious little he could do to turn a bad situation around.

To begin with, while Barack Obama’s largely timetable-based Afghanistan strategy didn’t help matters, the real moment America ruled out victory came with the prosecution and conviction of Clint Lorance in 2013 on Obama’s watch, taking hours and days to litigate and second-guess a split-second battlefield decision. That was two years before Trump ever took office.

Between the Lorance case and that of Mat Golsteyn, despite the fact that Trump pardoned both of these men, the actions the military establishment took against them told the American people they weren’t in the Global War on Terror to win it. This prompted many who once were supportive of fighting the war to begin asking the legitimate question, “How many more years and how many more lives?”

In addition, our national security establishment allowed Pakistan to get away with playing both sides. When Osama bin Laden was in a well-built compound in Pakistan in 2011, for instance, we raided the compound and terminated OBL, but the Pakistanis were never held accountable for what was incompetence at best. That was four years before Trump went down that escalator at Trump Tower.

That wasn’t the worst of it, though. Iran was providing bomb components that helped kill our troops, and Tehran didn’t pay a price until Trump ordered the takedown of Quds Force thug-in-chief Qasem Soleimani.

In the early stages of the War on Terror, American Patriots stepped up to get high-ranking terrorists to spill their guts in order to prevent attacks and save lives. They came up with techniques, got them cleared, and then carried out the mission. Yet from the start of his administration, Obama proceeded to stab those Patriots in the back and leave them vulnerable to persecution by a Gitmo Bar that had already made Hanoi Jane look like a piker. And almost 14 years before Trump announced his 2016 bid for the White House, George W. Bush made serious errors of omission in his initial response to 9/11.

The editorial board of the Wall Street Journal may be correct that Trump made a bad deal, but the editors should remember that while Afghanistan mattered, it was not the only issue America had to address. There is also the undeniable fact that Trump had inherited a bad situation when he took office. He improved matters by untying our troops’ hands, and he also worked to improve readiness. Still, his failure to increase the military’s force structure didn’t help matters either in the Middle East or vis-à-vis China and Russia.

That being said, Donald Trump is not in the Oval Office; Joe Biden is. What is happening in Afghanistan on Biden’s watch is what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell rightly described as a “preventable” disaster. The reckless withdrawal that created this disaster reflected Biden’s position from way back in 2009, one he advocated even when he knew it was condemning Afghan women to Taliban tyranny.

Regrettably, grassroots Patriots cannot do anything but learn the lessons from the Global War on Terror and insist that future officeholders apply them.

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