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Douglas Andrews / August 17, 2021

Biden Passes the Buck

In a 20-minute address, the commander-in-chief mostly pointed fingers and shirked responsibility.

To call Joe Biden’s brief remarks on Afghanistan an abject failure from start to finish would be to overstate things. We won’t do that. As he said — and as his predecessor Donald Trump might’ve said — the American people are tired of our nation’s 20-year involvement in that country, and it no longer serves our strategic interests.

Still, there’s a good and noble way to leave a theater of operations, and there’s a bad way. And beyond that, there’s a shamefully awful way. The latter of these is what the Biden administration has orchestrated. “Biden did the necessary thing in the ugliest possible way,” as Tucker Carlson put it. “After 20 years and trillions of dollars, our leaders couldn’t manage to pull off an orderly retreat.” Not to mention the 2,448 Americans who paid the ultimate price in Afghanistan.

Does anyone else wonder whether a U.S. military under the direction of Donald Trump would’ve beat feet so disgracefully? It’s a rhetorical question.

And here’s another one: When Joe Biden issues a threat — when he draws a red line, as it were — do our nation’s geopolitical foes take him seriously? Of course not. “As we carry out this departure,” he warned yesterday, “we have made it clear to the Taliban, if they attack our personnel or disrupt our operation, the U.S. presence will be swift and the response will be swift and forceful. We will defend our people with devastating force if necessary.”

Oooh. We’ll bet those barbarian jihadists are trembling in their turbans.

As we noted yesterday: “The government our nation stood up and supported for nearly 20 years in Afghanistan collapsed in a single day Sunday. The country’s embattled president fled, the U.S. military scrambled to evacuate personnel, and Taliban fighters rolled into Kabul uncontested and eager to announce a new Islamist state.”

Try as he might to explain it otherwise, Kabul is Joe Biden’s Saigon. “The Taliban is not the … North Vietnamese army,” Biden said last month. “They’re not … remotely comparable in terms of capability. There’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of a[n] embassy.”

Got it? He said “no circumstance”:

How wrong Biden was. Taliban fighters are now going door-to-door looking for women, for interpreters, for Afghan security forces. The bloodletting has only begun, but this chilling report details the awful fate that looms for many Afghans.

Biden continually tried to make it seem as if we were still in a hot war in Afghanistan. We aren’t, we haven’t been for years, and his implication to the contrary is shameful. While it’s true that we’ve lost 2,448 warriors there since combat operations began there on October 7, 2001, with Operation Enduring Freedom, our last combat death there occurred 18 months ago. Despite this, Biden wants the American people to believe that the only choice he had was between a disastrously hasty withdrawal and a 100,000-troop commitment to an endless war. Nonsense. Somewhere in between those two extremes is what we had a right to expect from a competent commander-in-chief.

“How many more generations of America’s daughters and sons,” Biden asked, “would you have me send to fight Afghanistan’s civil war when Afghan troops will not? How many more lives — American lives — is it worth? How many endless rows of headstones at Arlington National Cemetery?”

What a shamefully misleading series of questions. Biden’s repeated claim that the Afghan army wouldn’t fight for itself against the Taliban is true, in part, but primarily because Biden had withdrawn American air support from our Afghan allies. Surely, a better handoff would’ve made a difference.

“I will not mislead the American people,” said Biden toward the end of his remarks yesterday. “Nor will I shrink from my share of responsibility for where we are today and how we must move forward from here. I am president of the United States of America, and the buck stops with me.”

This was funny, in a sad sort of way, because he’d just spent the previous 16 minutes denying responsibility for this disaster and passing that very same buck.

It was Trump’s fault, and it was the Afghan political leaders’ fault, and it was the Afghan people’s fault.

So much for the buck stopping with Joe Biden.


Updated to include additional information about President Biden’s gross miscalculation and the Taliban’s reprisals against Afghan women, interpreters, and security forces.

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