A tale of two withdrawals and a corrupt medium
When Joe Biden ordered a withdrawal from Afghanistan, the media took advantage of the apt comparison with the fall of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War. But let’s not give the talking heads too much credit. It was Biden himself, looking back, who gave reporters the first clue that something might be up. On July 8, the president had said that he saw no parallels between the “withdrawal” from Afghanistan and “what happened in Vietnam”:
“The Taliban are not the south, the North Vietnamese army. They are not, they are not remotely comparable in terms of capacity. There will be no circumstance where you see people being lifted from the roof of an embassy in the United States from Afghanistan. It is not at all comparable. “
Even by an understanding media, that rambling assessment was too much to ignore. When the Taliban entered Kabul, it was obvious that the US “withdrawal” was a surrender, a withdrawal at best, and one that the commander-in-chief had seriously misjudged. The video showed potential Afghan refugees chasing cargo planes and even, tragically, falling to their deaths from their precarious position outside of those planes. The parallel to the panic at the US embassy in Saigon in 1975 was evident.
In statement after statement, it became absolutely clear that Biden was out of touch with reality. At that same press conference on July 8, he declared: “I am confident in the capabilities of the Afghan army, which is better trained, better equipped and more competent in terms of conducting the war” than the Taliban. Yes, that Afghan Military: The one who barely fired a shot in defense of the nation and delivered billions of dollars in deadly war machinery to the new terrorist state.
Once again, Biden has lived up to his reputation for being “wrong on almost every issue of foreign policy and national security over the past four decades,” as former Obama Defense Secretary Robert Gates described it. So if you want to criticize the president for being disastrously wrong, I suppose you are justified. But he is not the only culprit. We can appropriately distribute the blame among the CIA, the State Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the defense secretary, and the national security adviser, who were presumably sharing information and bad advice with Biden.
But even more to blame, in my opinion, are the potted plants that make up the bulk of the White House press corps. At the time of Thursday’s suicide bombing that killed 13 American service members, it was obvious even to Democratic apologists on CNN and MSNBC that something was terribly wrong. But where were they during the previous month? Think of that long wait between July 8 and the day in early August when the Taliban captured their first state capital. The media had every opportunity to expose the disaster that was about to occur and hold the president accountable for his irresponsible leadership. But what did we get instead? Be quiet.
Which brings me to another American retreat, a less momentous one, and one that did not put the lives of American civilians at risk, but that the anti-Trump media created a major disaster for the previous administration, just to be tested. bad in almost every way.
I’m talking about President Trump’s 2019-ordered withdrawal of US forces from northern Syria to be replaced by Turkish troops. Media outrage over Trump’s decision to protect Americans from a Turkish occupying force was nearly universal. But let’s look back and see what really happened. First, Trump had ordered the withdrawal of 2,000 US troops from Syria in December 2018, but it never happened. Why?
To put it bluntly, Trump’s unilateral decision as commander-in-chief was undermined by his generals, fellow Republicans, and, of course, the press. We would never have known about dissent within the administration and within the military if it weren’t for the reporters doing their job: uncovering the truth and writing about it. Whether the generals were right or wrong, it was important that the president listen to their voices and take them into account. It was also important for the president to listen to the people.
And lo and behold, because the public was told what catastrophe the pullout would be, Trump backed down, or more accurately, repositioned himself and adjusted his timeline so that disaster would not occur. He did not want a bloodbath to occur during his watch. He did not want ISIS to be able to resurrect itself. He did not want to create a vacuum that would allow Turkey to strengthen its position in the region.
Trump demonstrated one of the key traits of leadership: the ability to adapt to circumstances and learn from one’s mistakes. Mind you, Trump never gave up his desire to end “wars forever” in both Syria and Afghanistan, but he took the sounding board of media criticism seriously and revised both his timeline and his means of withdrawal.
Rather than withdraw all troops quickly, as he had pointed out in December 2018, Trump announced in April 2019 that 400 troops would remain, including 200 in northeast Syria to guard against Turkish infiltration in the region. He did so at the urging of his generals, but insisted: “I will not change course” in his plan to end US military involvement in Syria. Then, on October 6, 2019, Trump announced that he would withdraw the remaining troops from northern Syria and allow Turkey to take control of the region.
Once again, the media was horrified and loudly warned of a bloodbath that would ensue. So did the usual suspects on Capitol Hill: neocons and “forever warriors” like Sen. Lindsey Graham. Graham warned on Twitter that “the most likely outcome of this impulsive decision is to secure Iran’s domination of Syria. The United States now has no influence and Syria will eventually turn into a nightmare for Israel. ” And also, “I feel very sorry for the Americans and allies who have sacrificed to destroy the Caliphate of ISIS because this decision virtually reassures the resurgence of ISIS. Very sad. Very dangerous.”
All of which were trumpeted in the media, but none turned out to be true. Yes, Turkey invaded as expected, but when it appeared that our Kurdish allies would be invaded, Trump issued a warning to the President of Turkey and somehow the threat of World War III disappeared almost overnight.
Yes, there were downsides to the withdrawal of 200 American soldiers, but they did not include the death of any Americans. The virulently anti-Trump Atlantic magazine summed up the common wisdom this way:
“The strategic costs [of the withdrawal] They were these: a Turkish assault on America’s Kurdish partners in the fight against ISIS; an unknown number of ISIS prisoners – perhaps 100, Esper told CNN – escaped from prison amid the chaos before officials claimed they had been recaptured; a rearranged map of northern Syria taking shape, with Russia and Turkey as key power agents filling the void; and a Kurdish association with the Bashar al-Assad regime, which has used chemical weapons and indiscriminate bombardments against civilians in an attempt to maintain power in the course of an eight-year civil war.
Now compare that to the devastating failure of Joe Biden’s strategy to withdraw from Afghanistan: the highest death toll in a day for US service members in Afghanistan since 2011. The release of 5,000 terrorists from Afghan jails. The creation of a terrorist haven now armed with top-of-the-line American military equipment, including Blackhawk helicopters, Humvees, artillery, weapons, and spy planes. Also, the opportunity for China to change the balance of power in both the Far East and the Middle East by coming to the aid of the new Islamic caliphate.
How come the brilliant military and intelligence analysts in the media couldn’t see this coming? Of course they could, but Biden was “their man” and there was no chance they would pressure Biden for answers and accountability as they did with Trump.
The same goes for our politicians holier than you. Listen, for example, to Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island as he criticized Trump during the Syrian withdrawal, and ask yourself if there is any chance that the Democratic lawmaker will say the same to Biden:
“The weakness and incompetence this president has shown when it comes to national security is staggering,” Reed said, stating that “instead of telling Erdogan to stand down, President Trump is in full retreat. It is shameful “.
Except that Trump forced Erdogan to withdraw. What is shameful is that Joe Biden surrendered to the Taliban and, with the complicity of both the foreign policy establishment and the national media, managed not only to overcome the fall of Saigon, but to create the worst military disaster for a great world power. from Dunkirk. Biden’s 2019 condemnation of Trump’s Syria policy has skyrocketed and now reads as a fitting description of his own disastrous foreign policy:
“It is not comfortable to say this about a president, but he is a complete failure as commander-in-chief. He is the most reckless and incompetent commander-in-chief we have ever had.”
Words may not be comfortable either when said about Joe Biden, but they sure fit. And that means the only question that remains to be answered about this president is when, and not whether, he will be removed from office for breach of duty.