Lewis Morris / July 28, 2022

The Afghanistan Debacle, One Year Later

We must keep the memory of this failure alive lest it be repeated elsewhere.

As we approach the one-year anniversary of the catastrophic and embarrassing pullout of U.S. forces from Afghanistan and its fall to the Taliban, it’s clear that those on the left haven’t learned their lessons.

Speaking at the annual Aspen Security Institute gathering of foreign policy leaders last week, Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns said that he was “very proud” of the CIA’s analysis in Afghanistan in the weeks leading up to the Taliban’s lightning-quick takeover of the country.

According to Burns: “As the president has said publicly, none of us anticipated that the Afghan government was going to flee as quickly as it did, that the Afghan military was going to collapse as fast as it did.”

But if no one could see the Afghan government and military buckling like a belt, and if no one could predict the Taliban would gain power so quickly, then what’s to be proud about?

Burns is doing the Biden administration a big favor here by making it seem that everyone from the intelligence community to the Big Guy is culpable in the loss of Afghanistan. There’s certainly plenty of blame to go around, but fundamentally it lies at the head of the table, not with the intelligence analysts or our warriors.

The CIA warned the White House in a July 2021 report about the weakness of the Afghan government and military in the face of a renewed push by the Taliban. At the time, the Taliban had already seized control of several provinces, growing in strength with each victory. In some instances, entire towns were abandoned without a fight.

Biden rejected that CIA intelligence, choosing instead to follow his own instincts. That’s never a good sign. When asked publicly about the CIA report, Biden first lied and said the report did not predict a rapid disintegration of the Afghan government and military. He then tried to cover himself and said that the Afghans had the ability to defend themselves, and that ultimately it was up to them.

That was also a lie. Biden was told that the Afghans did not have the ability to hold back the Taliban alone.

Biden’s not the only liar, though. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters on June 7, 2021, “We are not withdrawing, we are staying, the embassy is staying.” And Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley inflated the strength of the Afghan military, telling reporters, “The Afghan Security Forces have the capacity to sufficiently fight and defend their country.” Of course, it could also be that Milley, who holds degrees from Princeton and Columbia, is simply not good at his job. After all, he also predicted that Kyiv would fall within 72 hours of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

It might be a bit different if this were about simple incompetence, but Team Biden had the intelligence reports and the tools in place to forestall the loss of Afghanistan. Driven purely by domestic political considerations, the president chose to abandon the government our nation had helped build through 20 years of blood and treasure. In addition, our Afghan partners have been imprisoned, tortured, and executed, and the people there have lost all the freedom and opportunity they’d gained.

We’re now a year removed from a historic blunder that the Biden administration would rather forget. The mainstream media is happy to help them. But as painful as it may be, we must keep the memory of this failure alive lest it be repeated elsewhere.

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