The Connection Between Afghanistan, El Paso, and the ‘Weather Balloon’
The international perspective is that Biden is weak, indecisive, and overwhelmed.
By Mark W. Fowler
“When a defining moment comes along, you define the moment, or the moment defines you.” —Kevin Costner
Many presidents have defining moments in their tenure. Times when events require decisive presidential leadership. Leadership is the product of character as refined by courage, experience, and knowledge. Leadership is decisive, active, not irresolute, passive, and vacillating. President Kennedy had two defining moments. The Bay of Pigs catastrophe, an Eisenhower-era plan to have Cuban defectors invade Cuba to overthrow Castro, was the first. The plan failed; expected air support did not materialize and the force was killed or captured. It was a humiliation. This led to further adventurism on Khruschev’s part who, thinking Kennedy was weak and immature, surreptitiously sent missiles capable of carrying nuclear missiles to Cuba. This time, Kennedy responded with conviction, intelligence, and nuanced force. Setting up a blockade to prevent further shipment of missiles, Kennedy faced off against Khrushchev, and Khrushchev blinked.
Reagan had a defining moment in August 1981 when air traffic controllers went on strike in violation of the law. He fired them — 11,000 of them — having given them 48 hours to change their minds. The union was decertified, and fired controllers were permanently banned from working for the federal government. The controllers had legitimate complaints and had supported Reagan in the election, but their demands were extreme, and they miscalculated Reagan’s response. World leaders took note of the price paid (flights were delayed for months) and the clarity and strength of his actions. From then on, Reagan was no longer viewed as a former B-grade actor but as a force to be reckoned with.
Biden’s definitive moment was the withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021. The decision to withdraw came at a time when the true strength and resolve of the Afghan National Security Forces were not known, and the strength and resolve of the Taliban underestimated. Concomitantly, although the withdrawal had been planned for months, no effort was made to secure billions of dollars’ worth of armaments or safely remove American citizens and Afghan collaborators. Biden then lied about acting on the advice of his military advisors and was publicly repudiated by them. Intelligence estimates anticipated the Afghan government would last months, not days. In part, this calamity was related to Biden’s arbitrary decision to withdraw by September 11, before the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. It was a stunt.
In addition to hundreds of Americans, many Afghan collaborators were left behind and had to be removed later. Seventy-eight aircraft, 12,000 Humvees, thousands of rifles, millions of rounds of ammunition, night vision goggles, and communications sets were left behind. It was an avoidable rout of a superpower by third-world terrorists.
Foreign leaders watched and learned.
Meanwhile, at the southern U.S. border, the world watched the metastasis across the country of another of Biden’s self-inflicted wounds. Hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants have come across the border. Many thousands simply bypassed Customs and roam freely across the country. The administration has secretly flown some to other destinations across the country at night. New York City has been overrun with upwards of 30,000 immigrants. Border cities are inundated by homeless immigrants with no place to go. Hospitals along the border are overwhelmed and facing bankruptcy. Biden has largely ignored the suffering of Americans in pursuit of his image of magnanimity.
What the world understands, and Biden and Mayorkas do not, is that a country must have reasonable restrictions on immigration in order to preserve its identity. Biden has let hordes come across who then became public charges and whose presence has disrupted border cities and damaged the property of citizens along the border. Many have died. The cartels have gotten rich smuggling immigrants and fentanyl. Biden acts as though he doesn’t see what the entire country sees on the news every night, at the same time sending out Secretary Mayorkas to Congress, where he repeatedly bleats that the border is secure when everyone knows this is a lie. This is government by inaction.
The international perspective is that Biden is weak, indecisive, and overwhelmed, and that Harris and Mayorkas are incompetent and deceitful.
The Chinese “weather balloon” was detected flying over the Aleutian Islands days before a Montana civilian’s complaints led to public disclosure. It is an illegal and provocative slap in the face to America. Biden’s response was to dither. The balloon floated across sensitive missile sites, finishing its mission before Biden summoned up the courage to shoot it down. Although it is now claimed that Biden knew days before this came out publicly, it appears that his decision to shoot the balloon down was not made until after the public was aware and clamoring for action. By the time he acted, the balloon had completed traversed the United States. By dithering instead of promptly reporting; by failing to shoot the balloon down over the Aleutians when the risk of damage to civilians and infrastructure was low, Biden appears feckless. Even Obama officials as prominent as Leon Panetta are critical.
Foreign leaders were watching.
Biden now jeopardizes Taiwan and prolongs the fight in Ukraine. Indeed, one of the most oft-repeated refrains is that we must not do anything to upset the Russians. It’s akin to not shooting a home invader lest you upset him.
The world is watching.
Mark W. Fowler is a board-certified physician and former attorney. He an be reached at [email protected]
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