The US pullout from Afghanistan was a stunning success, any mistakes were someone else’s fault, and the only other choice was endless war, President Joe Biden argued in a bid to convince the media, Americans, or even himself.
Almost 24 hours after the last US airplane departed Kabul, Biden appeared before the White House press corps and began reciting the speech in a raised voice. He made the decision to end the “longest war in American history.” The evacuation airlift was an “extraordinary success.” No one in history has ever done anything like it, he said.
Then the excuses started. The assumption that the US-backed Afghan government could resist the Taliban “turned out not to be accurate.” The Americans left behind had ignored more than a dozen calls to leave, some wanted to stay, had dual citizenship and roots in the country – but can still leave if they want to do so, the State Department will arrange that diplomatically, he said.
Somehow, the withdrawal was both the fault of his predecessor Donald Trump – who negotiated with the Taliban and had 5,000 of their fighters released from captivity – and Biden’s own greatest achievement, with the only alternative another decade of war for no purpose whatsoever, he argued.
Much of Biden’s speech was an argument against staying in Afghanistan. It’s the exact same argument he had made multiple times before, against a straw man that literally no one – aside from his newfound neocon backers – actually believes in. The actual criticism, that the withdrawal was poorly organized, mishandled, failed to get everyone out and got people killed, he simply waved away by saying it couldn’t have been done better.
Really? Would someone else manage to evacuate a convicted rapist deported from the US, but leave behind the interpreter actually involved in rescuing him and two other senators back in 2008, when their helicopter was grounded by a blizzard in potentially hostile countryside?
Perhaps this really is the best Biden and his administration, the “adults in the room” who “trust the science” and defer to “experts” could do – but that’s not really a ringing endorsement of their competence and expertise, if you stop to think about it.
Which is why you’re not supposed to. Instead, Biden lapsed into a laundry list of excuses, addressing the costs of war in lives and treasure and waxing empathic about “national security” and actual US interests. He once again brought up that the mission was to avenge 9/11, saying it was accomplished in 2011 with the death of Osama Bin Laden. Great, but who was vice president then, and said and did nothing for the next five years? No wonder he refuses to take questions from the press.
While speaking of the deaths of soldiers and veterans committing suicide, Biden inevitably brought up his late son Beau in a bid for sympathy and emotional manipulation – even after the families of the 13 fallen troops told him to knock it off.
The pinnacle of cynicism, however, was arguably Biden’s insistence that the US needs to learn from its mistakes and abandon the notion of nation-building. This is not just about Afghanistan, he argued, but ending an era of major military operations “to remake other countries.”
This would be objectively true, yet it’s also utterly absurd considering who it’s coming from – someone with a 50-year career in politics and committed to transforming his own country in the name of “equity” and “building back better.” If you’re hoping Biden will now stop trying to regime-change places like Cuba, Venezuela, Belarus, Syria, Iran or anywhere else Washington is determined to promote “democracy” and “human rights,” do I have a bridge to sell you…
If anything, Biden voicing this argument will only discredit it in the eyes of a growing number of Americans who are already increasingly angry at his administration. This, in turn, would only help the Washington establishment, gripped by the dangerous delusion that the US needs to be a globalist empire. Perhaps that was the entire point.
Biden’s claim that the withdrawal was an “extraordinary success” is a reminder of how blatantly out of touch the US Elite are with reality.
The Afghanistan War was one of the most devastating disasters in the history of US foreign policy, and countless civilians paid the price.
— Rachel Blevins (@RachBlevins) August 31, 2021