Nice try: Biden’s attempt to displace blame for the Afghanistan withdrawal catastrophe

1) Andrew Restuccia and Sabrina Siddiqui,”In Afghanistan Report, White House Blames Donald Trump for Lack of Planning; Biden administration gives Congress access to after-action reports on chaotic U.S. withdrawal,” Wall Street Journal, April 6, 2023 (updated at 4:28 pm ET);

UPDATE April 8, 2023)

2) Editorial, “Joe Biden Isn’t Sorry About His Afghanistan Withdrawal
A White House report on the chaotic retreat spins disaster as triumph, Wall Street Journal, April 6, 2023; (6:51 pm ET);

3) Marina Kormbaki, “So reagieren die Parteien auf Habecks Schambekenntnis in Kiew; Robert Habecks Eingeständnis, er schäme sich für Tempo und Umfang der deutschen Waffenhilfe für die Ukraine, verärgert die SPD. Liberale sehen sich bestätigt, die Grünen zeigen Reue,” Der Spiegel, den 6. April 2023 (19:15 Uhr);

4) Marina Kormbaki, “This is how the parties react to Habeck’s confession of shame in Kiev; Robert Habeck’s admission that he is ashamed of the speed and scope of German arms aid to Ukraine, angers the SPD. Liberals see themselves confirmed, the Greens show remorse,” Der Spiegel, April 6, 2023 (7:15 pm);

5) Associated Press, “German chancellery defends record on sending arms to Ukraine,” Washington Post, April 5, 2023 (9:46 a.m. EDT;

6) “| The inner circle of Germany’s chancellor: Who does Olaf Scholz listen to? Unlike Angela Merkel, he likes his meetings short and one-on-one,” The Economist, April 5, 2023;

7) Helene Cooper, Eric Schmitt and David E. Sanger, “Debating Exit From Afghanistan, Biden Rejected Generals’ Views; Over two decades of war, the Pentagon had fended off the political instincts of elected leaders frustrated with the grind of Afghanistan. But President Biden refused to be persuaded,” New YorkTimes, April 17, 2021 (updated April 23,2021;

Only in a news environment where reporters and editors have no memory, and no understanding of the big picture in historical context, would a president try to shift the blame from himself for the greatest foreign policy catastrophe in U.S. history since before World War II.

President Joe Biden attempts to shift the focus from the catastrophic decision to withdraw from Afghanistan to the manner of its execution, all the while trying to blame Donald Trump for failing to leave behind detailed withdrawal plans.

It won’t wash.

John F.Kennedy, Jr. at least had the character to accept responsibility for the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in April 1961. He didn’t try to blame President Dwight Eisenhower.

To be sure, Trump’s agreement with the Taliban of February 29, 2020, in which he agreed to withdraw all American troops from the country in exchange for figleaf promises that amounted to essentially nothing, was a huge foreign policy blunder. Moreover, it appears that Trump’s principal in reaching the agreement was to win an advantage in the 2020 presidential election.

But it was Biden who assumed power on January 20, 2021, and it was Biden who three months letter made the decision to withdraw all U.S. forces and contractors from Afghanistan.

Trump negotiated the February 2020 withdrawal agreement over the heads of the democratically-elected government of Ashraf Ghani. Biden reached his decision without taking their interests into account, or the blatant violation by the Taliban of the February 2020 agreement with Trump.

Let us be clear. Biden’s decision to withdraw all U.S. forces and contractors from Afghanistan doomed the Afghan government to collapse. For without the U.S. contractors, the Afghan air force could not fly, and without air support the Afghan army could not defeat the Taliban on the battlefield. Everyone knew this.

Beyond these fateful decisions, which meant the Afghan government would inevitably fall, Biden goes on to slander the good men and women of the Afghan army, which lost some 67,000 killed during the war. And went on to slander Afghan president Asraf Ghani for fleeing the country after his army had collapsed.

Indeed, one of the most sordid aspects of this despicable withdrawal and attempts to justify it has been the slanderous attacks on the army and the government of Afghanistan.

The closer the actual events and decisions in this fiasco are examined, the more the incompetence of President Biden and his foreign policy team come to light.

The context is important. Vladimir Putin was massing troops on the Ukraine border and threatening to invade in March 2020. In April, Biden announced his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan and, whether by coincidence or not, Putin also in April announced that he was standing down his forces on the border of Ukraine.

In June Biden met Putin at a summit in Geneva. In August the debacle of the actual withdrawalfrom Kabul took place. Bagram air base had been evacuated earlier, and not even handed over to the Afghan army.

By October in not before, Biden was broadcasting to the world that if Russia invaded Ukraine, NATO would not use force in response.

In December, January, and part of February, Putin went through the motions of seeking a negotiated solution of the Ukraine crisis. Yet from his demands and terms of a potential “agreement” he proposed, it seemed clear that he had already decided to launch a large-scale invasion of Ukaine.

Joe Biden and other leaders failed utterly in their attempts to dissuade Putin from undertaking the invasion, which began on February 24, 2022.

Historical truth is in the details.

Biden’s attempt to displace blame for his catastrophic decision to withdraw from Afghanistan will only feed interest in finding out what really happened in U.S. decision-making circles and on the ground in Afghanistan.

Nice try, Mr. Biden. But it won’t wash.

The Trenchant Observer

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