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Political Editors / August 23, 2021

Monday Short Cuts

Multiple Democrats and Obama advisers unload on Biden’s Afghanistan failure.

Upright: “Events in Afghanistan are devastating, and there’s no reversing them. We aren’t going to be able to make up for the losses to our security or for the great price that will be paid by our allies. But there is something to be done about the corrosive sense that when our government makes massive, avoidable errors, no one is ever held to account.” —National Review

Real suffering: “We are seeing everything we have built so hard piece-by-piece being lost in Afghanistan. Our 20 years of gains and hard work vanished overnight. The world betrayed Afghanistan, legitimized the savages, and brought them into power. I don’t understand. I am still in shock. Afghans, especially women, will face a very new world, a world of fear, destruction, misery and endless pain.” —Fox News National Security correspondent Jennifer Griffin, quoting a letter from an Afghan woman, an NGO leader whose identity is being withheld for her safety

There’s a word for this: “I have seen no questioning of our credibility from our allies around the world.” —Joe Biden

Friendly fire multiplied:

All three of Barack Obama’s CIA directors have criticized Biden’s failure, however understated:

CIA Director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta: “Our national security is threatened. … With the Taliban now controlling Afghanistan, there is no question that they will provide a safe haven for al-Qaida and for ISIS.”

CIA Director David Petraeus: “The situation is absolutely heartbreaking. It is tragic … This is a Dunkirk moment or, perhaps, a Saigon moment.”

Even Obama’s sleazy Trump-hating CIA Director John Brennan said: “[Biden] was clearly caught off guard. … The U.S. military along with U.S. contractors and intelligence officers have been the bloodstream that have sustained the Afghan military and security forces for many, many years. The abrupt severing of that bloodstream … compounded by impact of the announced withdrawal in a rapid way [caused the collapse].”

More to the point, Obama Acting CIA Director Michael Morell said the Taliban “knew it was going to win” when “the clock started in April when the president made the decision,” and “to blame intelligence now infuriates me, absolutely infuriates me.” (In other words, once Biden declared we were completely abandoning our operations there, the Taliban knew they had nothing to fear from Biden.)

All four of Obama’s ambassadors to Afghanistan have criticized Biden’s failure, however understated:

Obama U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker called Biden’s handling of Afghanistan “an indelible stain on his presidency.” He added: “I’m left with some grave questions in my mind about his ability to lead our nation as commander-in-chief. … To have read this so wrong — or, even worse, to have understood what was likely to happen and not care. I think it is damning for him to have created this situation in his first significant action as commander-in-chief. … It’s an unforced error, and as an American I am deeply concerned.”

Ambassador Karl Eikenberry: “Evacuation of an embassy can be interpreted locally and internationally as abandonment, akin to a military unit fleeing from its position under enemy pressure.”

Ambassador James Cunningham: “There was little to no real planning done about how to compensate for the withdrawal of their forces made it almost impossible to carry that out effectively and safely. … They were behind the curve from the beginning of the announcement and that became rapidly apparent to the Afghans and to the Taliban as well.”

Ambassador Michael McKinley: Biden’s withdrawal plan “tied to the 20th anniversary of 9/11, and in the middle of the fighting season, was a mistake.”

And one high-level Obama adviser piled on…

Senior Advisor David Axelrod: “You cannot defend the execution here. This has been a disaster. … It’s a failure, and [Biden] needs to own that failure.”

Meanwhile, some Democrats have awakened from their slumber with a few “keen sense of the obvious” criticisms:

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ): “I am disappointed that the Biden administration clearly did not accurately assess the implications of a rapid U.S. withdrawal.”

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI): “This is a chaotic situation. … I don’t think it needed to be this way.”

Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) said that the withdrawal of U.S. troops “should have been carefully planned to prevent violence and instability.”

Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) blamed the Biden administration’s “failures of intelligence, diplomacy and a lack of imagination as we transitioned military forces from the country.”

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA): “This is a crisis of untold proportions.”

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA): “To say that today is anything short of a disaster would be dishonest. Worse, it was avoidable. … All the scenes of total chaos that we saw play out on the TV yesterday could have been avoided if the [Biden] administration had planned for this in advance.”

Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI): “ This is a catastrophe. … Biden owed a better plan to our men and women in uniform.”

The BIG Lie: “Our women are Muslim, they will also be happy to be living within our framework of Sharia.” —Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid

The BIG Lie II: “The Islamic Emirate — after the freedom of this nation — is not going to revenge anybody, we do not have any grudges against anybody. We have pardoned anyone, all those who have fought against us. We don’t want to repeat any conflict, any war, again, and we want to do away with the factors for conflict. … Therefore, the Islamic Emirate does not have any kind of hostility or animosity with anyone, animosities have come to an end, and we would like to live peacefully.” —Zabihullah Mujahid

Elitist arrogance: “I am really struggling to think of a time when I despaired more for the country and had so much contempt not just for both parties, but the bases of both parties.” —Jonah Goldberg

And last… “Guys, you’re all criticizing without understanding the situation: Biden has to use his vacation days or he loses them.” —Frank J. Fleming

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