USAID pressed to disclose what safeguards are in place
Republican lawmakers are pressing the Biden administration to disclose what safeguards are in place to stop U.S. humanitarian aid to Afghanistan from enriching the Taliban, according to a letter sent Friday to the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Eleven lawmakers, led by House Foreign Affairs Committee member Rep. Tim Burchett (R., Tenn.), say they “are concerned about the possibility of U.S. taxpayer dollars funding the Taliban’s terrorist regime,” according to the letter, which was obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. They are demanding that USAID, which is in charge of handling aid to Afghanistan, show what steps they have taken to ensure the Taliban cannot intercept these funds.
“Humanitarian aid to Afghanistan will finance Taliban terrorists if it is incompetently distributed,” Burchett told the Free Beacon. “The Biden administration needs to lay out what steps it is taking to prevent this from happening and adding more pain to last summer’s embarrassing withdrawal from the country.”
With more than $300 million slated to flow into Afghanistan this year as part of an effort to keep the country afloat after the Taliban regained control, the Biden administration has been mum about how it is preventing these funds from lining the Taliban’s pockets. The terrorist regime controls the nation’s coffers, meaning that any aid dollars that make their way to the government are at risk of being stolen. With this new infusion, nearly $800 million in aid will have been provided to the war-torn country since October 2020, making the United States Afghanistan’s largest donor.
USAID, in announcing the latest infusion of $308 million earlier this year, said that it is working with the Taliban to ensure aid makes its way to the people. The agency, however, did not detail the safeguards it has put in place.
“The United States continues to urge the Taliban to allow unhindered humanitarian access, safe conditions for humanitarians, independent provision of assistance to all vulnerable people, and freedom of movement for aid workers of all genders,” USAID said in a statement this week.
The Republican lawmakers say these assurances are not good enough. The Treasury Department in September 2021 issued sanctions waivers to permit U.S. transactions with the Taliban, prompting concerns the Taliban is playing a critical role in distributing American aid.
The lawmakers want answers from USAID “in light of the administration’s dealings with the Taliban, and knowing that the Taliban has a history of diverting and profiting from U.S. assistance to Afghanistan,” according to the letter.
The agency must also provide assurances that it will cooperate “with Congress as it conducts its constitutionally authorized oversight into all U.S. foreign assistance to Afghanistan,” according to the letter. The lawmakers are seeking a commitment from the administration to “reassess and pause” U.S. assistance to Afghanistan if it is determined the cash is funding the Taliban.
The American people, the lawmakers write, “deserve to have confidence that their tax dollars are not funding terrorist activities.”
Volunteers receive images and videos every day of Afghans, including children, executed at the hands of the Taliban.
Two months ago, Rambo, the code name for a commander in the Afghan National Army’s Special Operations Command, and seven other commandos were kidnapped by the Taliban. A video of the commandos’ execution was sent to members of Operation North Star, an all-volunteer organization working tirelessly to secure safe haven for thousands of Afghan allies abandoned by the State Department in post-withdrawal Afghanistan.
After watching the video hundreds of times in search of Rambo, volunteers “assumed the worst,” according to Ben Owen, a former U.S. Army infantryman and president of Flanders Fields, a nonprofit that raises funds for evacuation organizations Operation North Star and Task Force Argo.
Two weeks ago, Flanders Fields received a request to acquire a safe house in Afghanistan for an unidentified high-value target. An hour later, Owen received a pixelated photo of a familiar Afghan man being embraced by his family members on the safe house floor. Rambo had escaped Taliban captivity.
Maintaining Rambo’s safety presents constant monetary and logistical struggles for Flanders Fields and Operation North Star. Rambo “is essentially trapped in a meat grinder with his family,” according to a former U.S. Army recon platoon sergeant and Operation North Star volunteer we will call Duke. Rambo had inadequate time to apply for the documents the State Department requires to enter the United States prior to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Applying for the passport the Taliban require to exit Afghanistan would also put Rambo’s life at risk.
The only solution, according to Duke, is for the U.S. government to set up “a surged second wave of evacuations” to a host nation where at-risk Afghans like Rambo can “be further vetted by the State Department.”
Every day, Duke receives images and videos of Afghans, including children, executed by the Taliban. He sends the gruesome files to Amnesty International to document the Taliban’s relentless violence against the 10,000 to 100,000 Coalition Forces allies who remain in Afghanistan. Much of the proof he receives now comes from Rambo, whose “commando brothers [are] being tortured and killed,” Duke says. “It breaks my heart … that [the U.S. government] would leave this man and his family. Nobody at North Star is going to leave him. Never.”
An interpreter, whom we will call Nasir, is one of around 500 people Operation North Star has successfully exfiltrated from Afghanistan. After working with the U.S. Army for 10 years, Nasir was one of 18,800 interpreters mired in the State Department’s Special Immigrant Visa backlogs when Kabul fell.
In early August, he began receiving threats from the Taliban, who said they would take Nasir’s 10- and 13-year-old daughters as wives, “execute his pregnant wife, and cut the baby out of her in front of him before they kill him,” Owen said.
On Aug. 23, Nasir and his family joined the throngs waiting outside Hamid Karzai International Airport, hoping to be evacuated from Afghanistan. The first day, his three-year-old son was nearly killed after being trampled in a stampede incited by Taliban gunfire. The following day, Nasir suffered heatstroke and lost consciousness.
On Aug. 25, hellbent on getting through to the Americans, Owen says Nasir “plowed through Taliban” with his vehicle, which was riddled with bullet holes by the time he arrived at the meet-up point Owen had arranged with American contacts. After a tense handover period, Nasir and his family were brought to a U.S. facility where they remain now until Nasir’s background check and SIV is processed.
Another man’s evacuation story, who we will call Hassan, nearly ended in tragedy when the Operation North Star safe house he shared with a group of six Afghan Christians was raided by the Taliban. As an LGBT activist and gay man, Hassan was in serious danger when the Taliban, which reportedly maintains a kill list of homosexual Afghans, took him into custody. Miraculously, Hassan talked his way to freedom.
During eight weeks of shared hardship in their safe house, the leader of the Christian group became Hassan’s close friend. The group of seven has been evacuated to a third country, where they await the extensive vetting, including biometric identification and a lie detector test, that must occur prior to entry in the United States.
Operation North Star’s manifest includes about 30 dual citizens, and around 2,000 Afghan allies, government personnel, activists, minorities, and policewomen who are stuck in Afghanistan. Around 90 percent of these individuals do not possess the State Department paperwork required to enter the United States. For enemies of the Taliban, awaiting visa processing and vetting in Afghanistan is a dangerous proposition.
Just last week, when Feroza’s interpreter husband was killed by the Taliban, she also lost the chance to use the SIV program he qualified for. Now a widow in a country she cannot escape, Feroza cannot work or receive an education.
“Had the State Department not impeded every effort to evacuate [Feroza’s husband] and his family,” Owen told the Washington Examiner, “he’d still be alive.”
In July, U.S. Navy Lt. Cdr. Doug Ramsdell received a call from his former colleague, an Afghan commando we will call Noor Mohammad, who needed assistance leaving Afghanistan with his imperiled family as the Taliban gained ground in the country. Ramsdell jumped in headfirst to save his colleague, and Operation 620 was born. By mid-August, Noor Mohammad’s family of 10 had become a family of 260.
The Afghans on Ramsdell’s early manifest were Taliban targets, backed by U.S. military personnel willing to vouch for their honorable service to the United States, but none met the criteria to apply for the SIV program, which is limited to interpreters and personnel directly employed “by or on behalf of” the U.S. government. Ramsdell pursued Priority-1, Priority-2, and Humanitarian Parole visas in order to ensure these forgotten allies reach safety.
The day prior to the Aug. 26 bombing at the Kabul airport, Ramsdell directed his group to travel by bus to Mazar-i-Sharif. On their nine-hour overnight journey, the group went through 16 Taliban checkpoints. At a stop outside the city, one bus was robbed under the guise of taxation. Several Afghans were pulled off the bus that followed. Under interrogation, they thanked the Taliban for “sav[ing] [them] from the wicked western philosophy,” Ramsdell said. They were allowed back on the bus.
When plans to fly the group out of Afghanistan did not materialize, Ramsdell located safe houses and optimized security measures. Over the following weeks, the organization continued to grow. Today, 620 Afghans, including teachers, medics, and aircrew chiefs, are putting their faith in Ramsdell’s team to find them safe haven outside their homeland.
Despite constant efforts from Ramsdell’s all-volunteer team to provide for their safety, more than 50 Afghans from Operation 620’s original manifest are missing. Ramsdell says they have been “disappeared” by Taliban hit squads, who have access to biometric data and personnel lists left behind by the U.S.
For a time, the Taliban’s stranglehold on media kept evidence of these reprisals from reaching Western audiences. Finally, last month, Human Rights Watch reported having “credible information on over 100 killings” of former Afghan military, police, and intelligence personnel in four of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces between Aug. 15 and Oct. 31.
Due to shortcomings with the SIV program, a chaotic withdrawal, and a lack of assistance to stranded allies or the aid groups assisting them, Afghan allies stuck in Afghanistan face constant danger with little hope for their future. Evacuation groups working to bring them to safety need millions of dollars to transport Afghans to host countries where they can await visa processing and vetting, and to support and sponsor Afghans as they await humanitarian parole adjudication. They also need assistance from the U.S. government.
As it stands, Operation 620 and Operation North Star spend between $12 and $30 per person every day to provide protection, food, water, and safe houses for at-risk Afghans who are hunted in their home country for their service to the United States. The costs to these groups will likely increase as winter and a devastating food crisis arrive.
At present, both groups are struggling to meet their funding needs. Operation 620 is currently $95,000 in the red. Operation North Star has twice run out of funds, severely affecting their ability to assist those in dire need. Even as funding diminishes, the number of struggling Afghans does not. Owen says he receives “thousands of messages” from Afghan allies in need of aid every day.
President Biden’s approval rating has plummeted, and Democrats wonder why. The United States is facing hardships, but hardships alone don’t make a president unpopular. Leaders who are honest about the problems we face and forthright about the solutions they offer tend to do well (think, say, of Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan). Unfortunately, that is not the leadership Americans are getting from this president.
Instead, the Biden administration has tried to convince the public of things that are not just untrue but implausible. To note a few, Biden did not (and does not) have a “national strategy” to defeat COVID; our southern border is not “secure;” the Afghan withdrawal was not an “extraordinary success”; the current bout of inflation is neither “temporary” nor “a good thing”; and government spending never takes “the pressure off of inflation.”
Of course, politicians often overstate things and sometimes outright lie. Nothing new there. It’s the in-your-face nature of the administration’s falsehoods that is stunning.
For a recent example, take Biden’s efforts to promote his Build Back Better bill. The administration often claims that the legislation really “costs zero dollars” because it is “paid for.” Most Americans realize that paying for something doesn’t make it free. Otherwise, literally everything would be free. Seriously, people get this.
In fairness, Biden was attempting to state that BBB wouldn’t add to the deficit because taxing the rich would pay for it. But even that claim didn’t pass the smell test. Just about everybody outside of Washington, D.C., knows that government programs are never actually “paid for.” We are already borrowing from our great-grandkids just to cover our current profligate spending.
So, the Democrats resorted to various accounting tricks and budgetary chicanery to make it appear as though taxing “the rich” would pay the BBB bills. Few were fooled. Analyzing the bill using realistic assumptions, the Congressional Budget Office found that it would result in around $3 trillion in new deficit spending.
In yet another implausible claim, Biden said that BBB’s massive government spending would take “the pressure off of inflation.” No less an authority than former Clinton and Obama economist Larry Summers warned in February that profligate government spending would “set off inflationary pressures of a kind we have not seen in a generation.” The Democrats ignored him and passed a $1.9 trillion COVID relief boondoggle. In hindsight, Summers was prescient. In November, he recommended that the administration “not compound errors” it had already made “with far too much fiscal stimulus and overly easy monetary policy” and reject Build Back Better.
To counter these concerns, Biden claimed that BBB’s massive government spending would bring down inflation because government would pick up the tab for certain household expenses, such as child care. Of course, this ignores the impact that the bill would have on the supply of – and demand for – child care.
Child care providers are already in short supply. According to Sen. Richard Burr, ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, the bill would shrink the supply further “by killing off faith-based providers, small family child care homes, [and] kinship care,” while increasing the demand for child care with massive government subsidies. Not surprisingly, a study by the Progressive Peoples Policy Project, a think tank as left-leaning as its name implies, found that the bill would actually increase the cost of child care for middle-class families by about $13,000 per child annually.
The supply-and-demand dynamic and its impact on inflation seem to be mysteries to the administration – but not to most Americans. According to the Penn Wharton Budget Model, the average American family will incur an additional $3,500 in expenses this year solely because of already-surging inflation. It’s the kind of thing people notice.
Of course, the administration made this implausible claim only because the bill needed West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin’s support to pass. Manchin, however, made it clear that, with inflation already at a 40-year high, he wouldn’t support legislation that added to the deficit or further swelled prices.
Like most Americans (including Larry Summers), Manchin refused to be fooled. He announced that he won’t support the bill – effectively killing it in its present shape. Rarely deterred by reality, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer then announced that the Senate would move forward with a vote on the bill nonetheless.
Progressives have long lived in a bubble that cuts them off from the concerns of the “deplorables” in “fly-over America.” During the pandemic, the left hermetically sealed that bubble, shielding its leaders from the discontent that runs across political, geographic, racial, and ethnic lines. Otherwise, they would have foreseen the declining popularity of a president who repeatedly makes patently implausible claims and attempts to advance policies at odds with basic common sense.
The lesson here is not a new one. As someone said long ago: “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”
While President Joe Biden and his administration tout what they say are successes as the end of the president’s first year in office looms, the spin from Psaki and others just doesn’t match the reality being experienced by Americans from coast to coast.
To highlight the breadth of the issues caused by Biden policies, the RNC released a video series on Biden’s “12 Days of Crises” to coincide with Christmas and highlight the pain being felt by Americans.
“Crisis, lies, and failure are the hallmarks of Biden’s presidency,” noted RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. “In less than a year under Biden’s watch, there has been a catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan, historic price increases, and a crisis at the border.” And that is where Biden’s 12 Days of Crises — as outlined by the RNC — begin, all of which have been covered by Townhall this year.
On the first day of crises Joe Biden gave us a border crisis.
Our own Julio Rosas has reported extensively from the U.S.-Mexico border in Del Rio, Texas and Yuma, Arizona — and several locations in between — showing the Biden administration’s lack of action to stem a record-setting number of illegal border crossings, apprehensions, and “gotaways” in addition to increasing human and drug smuggling operations. When Julio confronted Biden’s DHS secretary about the situation, Alejandro Mayorkas still wouldn’t call the status of America’s southern border a “crisis.” Biden continues to claim that the border is closed, but Julio’s reporting proves it’s just one of Biden’s many unmitigated crises.
On the second day of crises Joe Biden gave us a disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal.
As our loyal readers know, Townhall led the charge warning that what Biden said was going on in Afghanistan was little more than wishful thinking. While the White House claimed there was no diplomatic evacuation taking place in Kabul, Townhall reported that embassy staff were shredding documents and destroying computers. When Biden claimed that the Afghan government’s potential fall to the Taliban was anything but certain, Townhall told the truth Biden surely knew but wouldn’t say. We also warned that Biden’s withdrawal was setting up the largest hostage crisis in U.S. history, and when Biden and his administration lied about how many Americans were left behind, we kept telling the stories of those Biden stranded. Following the Kabul drone strike Biden’s defense officials called a “righteous strike,” Townhall warned that it may have been a botched attack. And it was.
On the third day of crises, Joe Biden gave skyrocketing gas prices to every American.
The pain felt by Americans at the pump is something Biden has also ignored, and his supposed fix of tapping into America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve intended to be used in emergencies like natural disasters or disruptions caused by foreign wars did almost nothing to help the American people. Making things worse, Biden has spent his first year in office turning the United States from an energy independent country to one dependent on foreign supplies. One of his first acts after being sworn in was to kill the Keystone Pipeline, just part of his work to make fossil fuels so expensive that suddenly less-reliable “green” energy seems appealing.
On the fourth day of crises, Joe Biden gave us an unconstitutional vaccine mandate.
After saying that he wouldn’t issue a federal vaccine mandate, Biden — somewhat predictably — went back on his word and levied a requirement on federal employees, federal contractors, and tens of millions of Americans who work for private companies. His mandate was announced as an attempt to distract from his disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, and it was so haphazardly put together that it quickly encountered legal challenges from states’ attorneys general and companies who wanted to fight for their employees’ healthcare freedom. And, after many companies implemented Biden’s mandate, a growing number have also reversed the mandate, including Biden’s beloved Amtrak.
On the fifth day of crises, Joe Biden gave Americans a reckless tax and spending spree.
No matter how many times Biden, Psaki, Schumer, and Pelosi claimed that the cost of Biden’s Build Back Better budget was “zero dollars,” it’s just not true. As Townhall covered, the Congressional Budget Office — which Biden used to praise until it no longer served his purpose — confirmed what we’d reported for months: Build Back Better is really a plan to make America’s economy even worse.
On the sixth day of crises, Joe Biden put parents and students last.
One needs to look no further than Biden’s relationship with teacher unions to see he doesn’t value students or their families. School closures and remote learning? No problem for President Biden. Mask mandates for young children? It’s necessary. Terry McAuliffe thinks parents shouldn’t have a role in their kids’ education? Full endorsement from Biden. And don’t forget Biden’s Department of Justice took the National School Boards Association’s lead and directed the FBI to go after parents who are speaking up and demanding accountability from their school boards.
On the seventh day of crises, Joe Biden gave himself another vacation in Delaware.
It wasn’t a secret when he took office that Joe Biden loves Delaware. Almost more than he loves ice cream cones and Amtrak. What Americans may not have counted on was just how much time he would spend there, even amid some of his other crises. Perhaps most notably, his botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, during which Biden would return to the White House from the beach in Delaware to give a speech and then immediately get back on Marine One to go back to Delaware.
On the eighth day of crises, Joe Biden gave all Americans rising prices.
It seems as though every month brings a new record-high for inflation numbers under President Biden. At first, he said it was transitory, then members of his own administration killed that theory, but Biden still isn’t taking any action to alleviate the pressure. Prices on basically everything, from gas to grocery and utility bills, continue to rise. And while Biden keeps trying to tout wage growth as proof that his economic policy is helping Americans, he conveniently neglects to mention that inflation has wiped out any gains in wages. In fact in months such as October, the impact of Biden’s agenda meant that Americans actually saw real wages decrease by 0.5 percent.
On the ninth day of crises, Joe Biden created a nationwide supply chain crisis.
Here’s to hoping all your Christmas and holiday shopping happened without incident, but if you’re waiting for some goods on a ship from Asia, your gift might still be floating in the boat parking lot off the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, or sitting in a container awaiting transport. Shortages caused rations on certain Thanksgiving meal items at grocery chains and, according to Biden’s statement earlier in the holiday season, Santa was the only one who could guarantee the tree is surrounded by gifts on Christmas morning.
On the tenth day of crises, Joe Biden put China first.
China, one of Biden’s first forays into foreign policy as president, went poorly from the start. Despite signing the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act into law on Thursday, the Biden administration was hesitant to support the legislation and reports suggested that the White House was urging a delay on the bill. And don’t forget how often Biden and his administration have dismissed concerns about China’s rule in the outbreak of the Wuhan coronavirus.
On the eleventh day of crises, Joe Biden did nothing to address crime surges across the country.
In case there wasn’t already enough data to prove that America is getting less safe under President Biden, this week’s armed carjackings of an Illinois state Senator and member of the U.S. House Representatives should send a message to Biden and other Democrats that their defund-the-police agenda is endangering lives across the country. Homicides, carjackings, brazen smash-and-grab robberies, and other crime continue to hit records not seen in decades, but yet again Biden won’t take action
On the twelfth day of crises, Joe Biden’s approval rating plummeted lower and lower after each crisis.
So yes, there’s a lot of bad caused by the Biden administration, but within that is a silver line emerging for Republicans ahead of the midterms: Biden’s tanking favorability means the GOP’s fortunes are rising when voters across the country have — many for the first time since 2020 — a chance to register their opinion of Joe Biden at the ballot box. Things have gotten so bad that the White House is now frantically announcing new Biden pets in an attempt to change the narrative.
Looking to the year ahead, RNC Chairwoman McDaniel pledged to “continue to hold Biden and Democrats accountable for their failed policies and refusal to take responsibility” and predicted that “voters will soundly reject Biden and his failures, and we look forward to taking back the House and Senate in 2022.”
GOP lawmakers want full accounting of failed vetting efforts
More than four months after the Biden administration airlifted nearly 75,000 Afghans out of the war-torn country, it still does not know the identity or backgrounds of many who have since been resettled in the United States, according to three senators who received classified briefings on the situation.
“During a nonpublic briefing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, it was made clear that not all security and vetting measures have been taken to ensure the safety of our homeland,” Sens. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.), Josh Hawley (R., Mo.), and Rick Scott (R., Fla.) disclosed in a letter sent Thursday to the Department of Homeland Security. The lawmakers are ordering the Biden administration to account for its failed vetting efforts and to “address the lack of transparency regarding this evacuation and resettlement operation.” Congress, the lawmakers disclose, still does not have basic information about who the refugees are or if they were qualified to be brought into the country.
“It is beyond unacceptable that several months after President Biden’s disastrous and deadly withdrawal we still do not have a full account of all the Americans who are still trapped in Afghanistan or a full account of the Afghans who were evacuated to the U.S.,” the lawmakers write, according to a copy of the letter obtained exclusively by the Washington Free Beacon.
In the months since the Biden administration airlifted Afghans out of the country, it has obstructed congressional investigations into the bungled evacuation effort. Secretary of State Antony Blinken admitted to Congress in September that most refugees were not vetted prior to arriving stateside. Internal emails show that those helming the evacuation effort were ordered to fill flights to “excess” with unvetted Afghans. More than 12,000 Afghan refugees, and potentially more, arrived without a visa or basic identification, the Free Beacon first reported in October.
With the administration hoping to turn the page on its chaotic exit from Afghanistan, Johnson—ranking member of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations—and his colleagues say that they will not back down from their oversight efforts.
“We are still concerned about your agencies’ ability to fully vet these individuals if they do not have any identification documents and cannot prove who they claim to be,” the letter to DHS states.
The lawmakers also expressed concern that the hasty evacuation of these Afghans was undertaken as hundreds of Americans were trapped in the country with no way to get back home. The Biden administration announced in October around 300 Americans were still stuck in the country but has not made any updates since.
Before the end of the year, the lawmakers demand the Biden administration disclose to lawmakers how many Afghan refugees cannot be identified and the steps being taken to ensure these individuals are not violent criminals or affiliated with terrorist organizations. They also want to know if the Biden administration created new identity documents for those who arrived without any paperwork.
The lawmakers also call on the administration to disclose if any of the Afghan refugees have been connected to terrorism or other crimes, as well as if they were interviewed in person by U.S. personnel prior to being resettled. Reports indicate that some of those airlifted to America were complicit in child trafficking and sex crimes.
In light of these reports, the senators want to know how many refugees have been arrested by U.S. law enforcement and are slated to be deported from the country. This includes details about whether Immigration and Customs Enforcement detained any of these Afghans over national security concerns.
DHS must also “provide the number of these Afghan nationals and other foreign nationals that have been resettled in each state so far,” according to the senators’ information request.
A failure of American nerve
“Democracy needs champions,” President Biden said on December 9 as he called to order his summit of democracies. It sure does. Yet Biden has a funny way of championing it.
Less than a year into his term, the number of global democracies has already decreased by one. Two others are under threat of invasion and extinction. What happened in Afghanistan, and what might happen to Ukraine and Taiwan, is a reminder that democracies do not vanish because of a failure to pass a partisan agenda or win an election. They die when the rule of law collapses. And that can happen in two ways. A polity can descend into anarchy. Or an adversarial force can replace a democratic state’s monopoly on violence with its own.
Both threats are serious. The risk of internal decay was manifest in the riots of 2020 and the storming of Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021. The moment demands that both Republicans and Democrats recommit to the rule of law, to constitutional deliberation and procedure, to empirical evidence, and to civil peace. But domestic challenges should not blind us to external dangers.
Otto von Bismarck once joked that the United States is blessed to be bordered on two sides by allies and on the other two sides by fish. Not every democracy is as lucky. The fate of freedom elsewhere is tenuous. For the last 80 years, American power and American security guarantees have sustained and expanded the ranks of democratic nations. The tinier and more fragile the state, the more hazardous its neighborhood, the more it depends on American aid and American strength. Remove America from the equation, and the jackals take its place.
That is what happened when America cut off aid to South Vietnam in 1975. It is what happened only a few months ago when President Biden overruled his national security team and the generals on the ground and withdrew U.S. forces from Afghanistan with no plan for the evacuation of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents as the Taliban advanced. Was the democratically elected government of Afghanistan flawed and corrupt? Yes. Was its control limited to the major cities? You bet. Did it nevertheless provide countless Afghans (population of Kabul: four million) a measure of freedom, security, and opportunity in which they could pursue their destinies in peace? Incontrovertibly.
And it’s gone. Because Biden lacked the will to sustain a relatively low deployment of U.S. troops to aid Afghan forces. America’s weary democracy endures. Afghanistan’s does not. And the man who condemned Afghanistan to misery—and who incidentally also had no problem abandoning South Vietnam to one-party Communist rule—now says the contest between authoritarianism and liberal democracy will define the twenty-first century. What he says is right. But what he does is wrong. Terribly wrong.
Consider Ukraine. It too is a democracy—and it too must be worried about Biden’s resolve. For the second time this year, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has built up his forces across Ukraine’s eastern border. A Russian invasion is a real, if unlikely, possibility. Putin is not “securing his border,” as if Ukrainians were entering Russia illegally looking for work. There isn’t any. Nor does Putin “feel threatened” by NATO. He’s the one making the threats. He’s the one who annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in 2014. He’s the one raising the prospect of a major military operation against an independent state. It’s funny how many of America’s most famous “nationalists” don’t seem to be bothered by imperialism, so long as the imperialists speak Russian.
President Biden is vocal in defense of Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence. But he is also playing into Putin’s strategy of “reflexive control.” Biden agreed to a video teleconference with Putin that had one upshot: elevating the autocrat’s status. Biden warns of sanctions, an end to pipeline construction, and reinforcement of NATO allies in Eastern Europe. The trouble is that the measures would happen only if Putin invades. At this point Biden has done nothing concrete, has established no facts on the ground, to dissuade Putin from his present course. On the contrary: According to the AP, Biden wants Ukraine to recognize the “autonomy” of Russian-backed separatist zones. According to Bloomberg, he wants NATO members to negotiate with Russia over the future of the alliance.
Biden wants to avert war by naming potential reprisals. This is like telling your kid to behave or else you will send him to his room. Chances are he won’t listen. Why? Because he’s heard the same thing many times before without lasting consequences.
“I will look you in the eye and tell you, as President Biden looked President Putin in the eye and told him today, that things we did not do in 2014 we are prepared to do now,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan said to the White House press corps on Pearl Harbor Day. Let’s hope so. Whatever President Obama did seven years ago—and he didn’t do much—had no discernible effect on Putin. Why then should Putin be worried about Obama’s former vice president—especially since Biden currently opposes sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, hasn’t yet retaliated against Russian-backed cyberattacks, and is going out of his way to address Putin’s phony grievances?
Deterrence doesn’t run on promissory notes. Deterrence raises the cost of hostile action in the here and now. Which is why Biden’s video conference was a mistake, and why his preemptively ruling out U.S. boots on the ground was too. No one wants or expects the commitment of U.S. forces in the case of Russo-Ukrainian war—but no one should tell Putin he doesn’t have to worry about that possibility either. Deterrence is about keeping Putin on his toes: by calling for real increases in the defense budget, by reinforcing the Baltic states sooner rather than later, by selling drones and other lethal materiel to Ukraine, by pledging construction of additional liquefied natural gas facilities in Poland, Ukraine, and Latvia.
What’s happening in Ukraine today is the result of what happened in Afghanistan over the summer. And what might happen in Taiwan in the coming years depends on what happens in Ukraine now. The failure of American nerve in Afghanistan caught the attention of authoritarians everywhere (including in Iran). They watched as America bolted and a democracy collapsed. They saw that democracies don’t live or die on talk. Democracies live or die upon their willingness to use force to defend their way of life. And that willingness, in turn, depends on the leadership and support and resolve of the world’s oldest, richest, and most powerful constitutional democracy.
This isn’t theory—ask the Afghans. Democracies perish when America bugs out.
The Afghan debacle just marks a new, more murderous phase
“I’m now the fourth American president to preside over war in Afghanistan—two Democrats and two Republicans,” President Biden said during his speech on August 16. “I will not pass this responsibly on— responsibility on to a fifth president.” He needn’t have corrected himself. He did indeed irresponsibly bequeath to his successor a terrible situation in central Asia.
The best-case scenario, according to Biden, would look like this: Afghanistan’s reversion to Islamofascism fades from the international headlines. The Taliban understands that its continued rule depends on its ability to prevent terrorists from launching attacks from its territory. America goes back to fighting over masks and vaccinations and “building back better,” or whatever.
But the best-case scenario is an illusion. Why? Because the war isn’t over. Afghanistan is just one front in a global conflict that the United States did not initiate and cannot wish away. The Cold War did not end when the South Vietnamese government collapsed. Nor will the war on terror or the “Long War” or the “Forever War” cease with Taliban control of Afghanistan. When participants in the worldwide Salafist-jihadist movement look at the developments of the last week, they don’t see reasons to quit their mayhem. They see the chaos, panic, violence, disorder, and American retreat as a vindication of their ideology and a spur to further action.
It’s happened before. North Vietnam’s victory over the South did not make communism less expansionist or revolutionary. On the contrary: Laos fell to the Communists, Cambodia was subjected to the barbarism of the Khmer Rouge, Cuba sent advisers to the pro-Communist People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola, the Sandinistas overthrew the anti-Communist Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, and a pro-Communist insurgency took root in El Salvador. The relentless humiliations that followed America’s defeat in Vietnam ended Jimmy Carter’s presidency. They did not stop until Ronald Reagan shifted the nation’s course.
Or try a more recent example. When America removed its troops from Iraq at the end of 2011 and failed to enforce its red line against the use of chemical weapons in Syria in 2013, the Middle East did not become less violent or pathological or dangerous. It was only a matter of time before ISIS overran the Iraqi cities of Falluja, Ramadi, and Mosul. On June 29, 2014, the terrorist army’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, announced the formation of a caliphate. Then ISIS moved toward Baghdad and enslaved and massacred Iraq’s Yazidi population along the way.
So terrible was ISIS that in August 2014 President Obama intervened against it with airstrikes—an intervention that continued, with greater success, under Obama’s successor. As I write, the caliphate is no more, Baghdadi is dead, and Iraq has another shot at a better future. There are 2,500 U.S. troops in Iraq and some 900 in Syria. This is not a coincidence.
How long, then, before U.S. forces return to Afghanistan? I recognize that it might feel a little silly to ask such a question at this moment. Biden already has deployed more troops to Afghanistan to evacuate civilians than were there when he gave the order to leave. Let’s say, though, that the withdrawal is completed without incident—a questionable assumption—and that there are no Americans in Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. What happens next?
The first thing to note is that the Taliban faces rebellion. Demonstrations against the return of the Islamic militia have been met with violence. They may increase in number. Meanwhile, the son of the late Ahmad Shah Massoud, the legendary anti-Taliban mujahid who was murdered two days before 9/11, has announced the renewal of his family’s resistance campaign. Just as the Taliban never surrendered after the U.S. intervention, neither will the former partisans of the Northern Alliance acquiesce to the collapse of Kabul. Afghanistan is too geographically and ethnically diverse to submit easily to the domination of one party.
Even a low-grade civil conflict will draw in other powers. The list of interested parties begins with nuclear-armed Pakistan and includes Iran, Russia, China, and India. America will be forced to pay attention and likely will become involved. After all, the fate of Afghanistan is part of the “great power competition” that President Biden said he cares about.
Biden also said he’s “adamant that we focus on the threats we face today in 2021—not yesterday’s threats.” And the “terrorist threat,” he went on, “has metastasized well beyond Afghanistan.” He didn’t acknowledge that one of the reasons the threat spread out of Afghanistan was that for 20 years America denied it a base there. Now that the Taliban is in, and the Americans are out, the elements of al Qaeda and ISIS in Afghanistan today will be joined by more holy warriors.https://ddc8dde6090d8332df22f7d8a904db36.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
Not to worry, though, said Biden. “We conduct effective counterterrorism missions against terrorist groups in multiple countries where we don’t have a permanent military presence.” And we can do the same thing in Afghanistan, he continued, because “we’ve developed counterterrorism over-the-horizon capability that will allow us to keep our eyes firmly fixed on any direct threats to the United States in the region and to act quickly and decisively if needed.”
Let’s hope he’s right. The problem with his argument is that America does have a “military presence” in north and east Africa, Syria, and Iraq, as well as in Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan, and elsewhere. And America does have a naval presence in the Mediterranean, Persian Gulf, and Indian Ocean. Our eyes are “firmly fixed” on bad spots in the Middle East and North Africa because we are nearby. The horizon over which our counterterrorism forces must travel is short. That won’t be the case in Afghanistan.
Biden created a situation in which America has neither boots nor eyes on the ground in a landlocked, mountainous country thousands of miles from port and surrounded by unfriendly states. Unlike 20 years ago, China and Russia are strong and adversarial and looking for opportunities to embarrass the United States. Every threat or attack that emanates from Afghanistan will testify to U.S. stupidity and weakness. Furthermore, the Taliban, even as it is dogged by internal opposition, will command more territory and field stronger forces than any of the Salafist-jihadist outfits scraping by in the ungoverned and contested spaces of the Maghreb, the Sahel, the Levant, and the Arabian Peninsula. Our intelligence capabilities will be hobbled and our response time lengthened.
This dispiriting assessment doesn’t include the propaganda boon to the Salafist-jihadist cause. Kabul will be transformed from an island of modernity to the global capital of anti-Western jihad. International terrorism flourished alongside the Islamic State. It manifested in spectacular, mass-casualty attacks in Paris, Marseilles, San Bernardino, Orlando, and Manchester. “For a long time now Islamist movements have defined the creation of an ‘Islamic state’ as their goal and standard for achievement,” writes former State Department official Charles H. Fairbanks. “A state provides a better terrorist sanctuary, and has far more versatile capabilities, than a movement.” A state gives a movement safe harbor, institutional support, and physical inspiration for “lone wolves” in the West to murder unbelievers. Such a state is what the Taliban will build in America’s place.
“I made a commitment to the American people when I ran for president that I would bring America’s military involvement in Afghanistan to an end,” Biden said. “And while it’s been hard and messy—and yes, far from perfect—I’ve honored that commitment.” Yes, he has. The Taliban’s military involvement in Afghanistan, however, continues in our absence. And so the Afghan people are left to suffer, the world watches agog, and America is vulnerable to resurgent Islamic extremism. The Forever War isn’t over—it’s entered a new phase. Where the enemy has the upper hand.
From the beginning of the United States of America’s war in Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, triggered by the September 11 attacks, American, and later NATO involvement went through four phases. The first phase was brief and only lasted for two months. As a result, the Taliban was defeated and al-Qaeda was decimated. The second phase, from early 2002 until 2008, was marked by the Bush Administration’s attempt to build a unified nation of the many ethnic groups, religious sects, tribes and clans of forty million Afghans. The third phase, under President Obama and his alleged foreign policy guru Vice President Joe Biden was basically designed to ignore the Taliban as a political/military force and to lead the transformation of Afghanistan from behind. The fourth phase, under President Trump, was about ending the war more or less honorably. The second, third and fourth phases were political and military failures.
The reasons for these tragic miscalculations were manifold. Most glaringly, Afghanistan has never been a state and a nation according to the West’s understanding. More brutality put it, Afghanistan as a state and as a nation has never existed. Moreover, with the exception of the first phase, the United States of America and NATO have never displayed the resolve to win decisively by completely eradicating the Taliban and to do the hard lifting of establishing the foundation for a central government. Finally, neither Washington, D.C. nor Brussels has laid down unequivocally the rules by which the successive Afghan governments should have ruled through competence, honesty and transparency.
Clearly, neither the Karzai nor the Ghani government has ever succeeded to extend their authority to the entire country and their armed forces were equally unsuccessful to effectively fight the Taliban by themselves. In the United States of America, the over politicization of the Afghan war, coupled with political, military and intelligence incompetence, made it impossible to forge a coherent and lasting strategy for Afghanistan. As nearly six decades ago in Vietnam, the United States of America has again faced national humiliation both at home and abroad. And as then, when the United States of America’s real crisis was not in Vietnam, today’s Afghanistan is the most recent and emotionally the most painful symptom of this great country’s catastrophic malaise at home.
Prior to analyzing the current situation from the American perspective, allow me a quick journey back to my past experiences. In my country of birth in Hungary, the Communist overlords finally realized in the early 1970s, that instead of loyal but incompetent political party hacks they needed educated individuals to run the bureaucracy, and made clear to me that I am “an eminently qualified, highly competent and indispensably useful screw in the machinery of the Socialist state.” In Germany, as a “Manager of a Civil Service Position,” in German Verwalter einer Beamtenstelle, I was told that regardless of me being a foreigner, Auslaender in German, the only thing that matters is my competent professionalism. When the United States Congress hired me from a German Institute at the end of August 1977, I was tossed into a pit of native as well as foreign-born incompetent liars claiming expertise in individual foreign countries. Their modus operandi to protect their jobs from the much better qualified newcomer culminated in first spreading the rumor that I am actually a “sleeping Soviet spy,” and then that I am not the person that I pretend to be. Following these totally groundless accusations, they tried to sabotage me by claiming that my analyses were biased by my anti-Communist leanings, and therefore, dead-wrong. In their pernicious efforts, they were enthusiastically supported by an equally incompetent and unprofessional department head, whose understanding of the world was near to zero. The only thing that prevented me from returning to Germany in disgust was a dual invitation from a Senator as well as the Supreme Court to advise them on international law and foreign policy.
Throughout my almost thirteen years of service in the American federal government, I have not encountered a more incompetent, yet arrogant bunch of bureaucrats, than most of the employees of the State Department. Young people in their twenties, fresh out of college or graduate school, were appointed desk officers for countries that they knew close to nothing, including the languages of those nations. My personal experience was that they were a community of desperate people in search of power and stable paychecks. The situation was barely more satisfactory on the higher levels. Ambassadors were appointed based on the size of their campaign contributions and Assistant Secretaries used their personal connections to land political appointments. Clearly, the State Department was a largely useless institution for the decision makers in the White House and in Congress.
To illustrate the utter idiocy of domestic ideology-driven personnel policies, again a personal experience. In the late 1970s, under the Carter Administration, I was called by a friend and senior adviser of the President regarding a high-level position with one of the top intelligence agencies. After I was interviewed for the position, the same person called me and said that he is sorry but the position is reserved by affirmative action for a Black person. To wit, the position required fluency in at least three languages spoken in the Soviet Union, Central and Eastern Europe and mindestens a Master’s degree from one of the major European universities. Needless to say that the position remained vacant throughout President Carter’s tenure and beyond. Unsurprisingly, American foreign policy and intelligence services have been a collection of discombobulated failures with few exceptions.
Afghanistan is the latest case in point in the humiliating disasters of the American foreign policy as well as military establishments, including the manifold intelligence agencies. Imbued with the destructive idiocy of Wokeism, including the Critical Race Theory, and guided by an overwhelming hatred for the United States of America, these hypocritical Knights of minority rights and intellectual madness have long been committed to kill individual freedoms, professional competence, as well as constitutional democracy in their fallacious quest to secure the country for their dictatorial minority rule.
The famous proverb of unknown origin says that a fish rots from the head down. This proverbial fish in the United States of America is President Joseph (Joe) Robinette Biden Jr. A man of gregarious disposition, but with well-known brainless intellect, he resembles an imbecile Doofus in Chief rather than a competent Commander in Chief. Moreover, with countless telltale signs of advanced dementia, hapless Joe has been ripe even before his presidency to the care of a closed mental institution and, following his election, to the invocation of the 25th Amendment. His laughably hollow and lying campaign slogans of “America is back,” “all out healing,” “national unity” and “inclusiveness through diversity” have been thrown out of the large French windows and doors of the White House as well as the numerous buildings of the federal government minutes after his return to the Oval Office. Instead of governing as a statesman, demented Joe has gone about fighting, like one possessed by evil spirits, the ghost of his predecessor. Gross falsifications of history under the guise of Black Awakening, slander of entire ethnic groups for their skin color, promoting the Marxist-Leninist “equity” deceptions, manipulating the lie about alleged White Racism combined with baselessly wild White supremacist/extremism/terrorism charges, using the English language to mislead an entire nation regarding illegal immigration, lawlessness as well as the shameful justification of outrightly criminal behavior, and the corrupt manipulation of law enforcement agencies by Marxist political agitators have been de rigueur du jour since January 20, 2021.
Demented Joe’s appointments, under the catchphrase of “diversity,” have populated the federal bureaucracy with woefully incompetent political hacks, such as his Vice President Kamala Harris, who is a huge embarrassment for her gross amateurishness and uncultured hysterical public as well as private behavior, his Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was called an incompetent bureaucrat by the late Senator John McCain already in 2014, his Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, whose most important contribution to the cabinet is his Blackness and his eagerness to introduce neoracist political correctness in the military, his Attorney General Merrick Garland, who has proven that Senator Mitch McConnell was right by opposing him to the Supreme Court, his Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, whose value is that she has contributed to the diversity of the Biden cabinet, his Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, who has gazed to commerce through the lens of her Marxist ideology, his Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, who knows nothing about health care, his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge, who has been a political and professional nonentity, his Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, who as a mayor of South Bend was incapable of managing the traffic in his small town, his Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona, who has used his perch to fight alleged White Supremacy and has promoted the most unscientific idiocy of Critical Race Theory, his Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, who has created a royal mess of illegal immigration, and his National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, who has not have a single right foreign policy recommendation during his disastrous professional career, among others.
The combined results of Biden’s idiocy and his coterie’s Wokeism have been the egregious
domestic and foreign policy failures of his administration since January 20, 2021. Demented Joe’s domestic agenda can be reduced to a single sentence – to make the federal government the owner of the entire American economy, finance and spiritual realm by aligning them with the most radical Marxist-Leninist Woke policies. Internationally, this demented president, in tow with his incompetent collection of advisers, is determined to destroy his country’s reputation to the fullest by cutting ties with America’s allies and appeasing its enemies by capitulating to their demands. In order to hide their incompetence, continuity, predictability and reliability of policies were thrown out of the window with zero concerns for present as well as future consequences or dangers for the United States of America. Demented Joe’s Administration turned foreign policy into a race-based partisan issue, with absolute disregard for the United States of America’s national security interests.
Personal virtues, the glorious attributes for the American success stories, such as patriotism, education, industriousness, respectability, truthfulness, compliance with the laws, religious faith, have been labelled as inherently White Racism. Demonstrating proficiency in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Geography and History have been declared the arrogant manifestations of White Supremacy, which are not needed for minority students to succeed in life. While exercising dictatorial harshness toward Americans concerning COVID-19 restrictions, foreigners infected with the coronavirus can storm into the United States of America with impunity in the millions. While still pursuing unsubstantiated allegations regarding former President Trump, the FBI is in relentless pursuit after the so-called January 6th perpetrators with reckless abandon. Meanwhile, demented Joe’s worthless son Hunter is selling his laughably primitive and amateurish paintings for half-a-million dollars to undisclosed buyer. The United States of America is drowning in the hurricane of moral, political, financial and establishment sponsored corruption.
In light of America’s domestic tragedies, it is painful to state that the Afghan crisis is exactly what demented Joe, the Democrat Party and their extremist partners in Black Lives Matter, Antifa as well as in other like-minded organizations wanted. Having declared former President Trump the enemy of America and a hostage of Russia, the Biden Administration named the majority of Americans as the “common foes we face,” and not China, where the Biden family enriched themselves, or Pakistan, which supported the Taliban politically, militarily and financially. To wit, the real domestic terrorists of Black Lives Matter, Antifa and other Marxist organizations that spewed anger, resentment, hatred, extremism, lawlessness and violence have been shielded by thuggish politicians as well as corrupt law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
As demented Joe said: “Politics need not be a raging fire destroying everything in its path.” In reality, he has meant that those who capitulate to Wokeism will be spared, but those who resist will mercilessly be eliminated. Clearly, the war that is going on in the United States of America has always been about culture, and Woke culture has always viewed Afghanistan as the graveyard of America as it has been for almost two hundred forty years.
Yet, the present societal schism goes much deeper than party or group affiliation. It has already penetrated education from kindergarten to graduate schools, from domestic politics to international affairs. If the activists of the Democrat Party, members of the Squad, Black Lives Matter and Antifa would have their ways and say – there would not be the United States of America for long in normal existence. Adding insult to injury, demented Joe and his incompetent administration well on its way to transform the United States of America into a Stalinist despotism, complete with minority totalitarianism, political subordination to the Democrat Party, collectivization of the economy, racial cleansing and religious persecution.
The majority of Americans have finally started to realize this truth in its cruel and ruthless fullness. And they are fighting back. Because, if demented Joe and his administration will manage to finish “vaccinating” all the voters with their anti-American and anti-Democratic nonsense, it might be given the opportunity to establish a hell on earth for the most decent freedom loving people in history.
Yet, when the sun is covered by impenetrably dark clouds, nature can still show the shining stars in the night sky. The timeline of the United States of America’s withdrawal and the subsequent Taliban advances have proved that the Critical Race Theory about the intrinsic origin of White Racism and the false narrative that America is fundamentally racist, lack any real foundation in facts, and as such scientifically ahistorical and in reality a Big Lie. Ibram X. Kendy, the author of “How To Be An Antiracist,” essentially claims that to fight racism one must turn himself into a super racist. Then, the super racists, the good guys according to Kendi, can save the world from the United States of America by changing the “very underpinnings and structures and systems of this country.” Clearly, this moron, who masquerades as a scholar, could not explain why only upon the withdrawal of American troops have summary executions, mass rapes and other extremely evil acts have been committed in the name of Islam by the Taliban. Indeed, evil has existed in many places of the world before White people set foot there. Albeit in an amateurish way, the United States of America intended to better the lives of the Afghan people. The waves of desperate Afghans who want to leave mainly to the United States of America are the best proof against the idiotic notion of “Institutionalized and Systematic Racism” and the allegedly ruthless “White Supremacy” advocated by mostly hypoctritical Black semi-intellectuals.
In closing, as demented Joe has claimed repeatedly, “The buck stops with me.” Paraphrasing his statement, the buck stops with the American people. Demented Joe, his incompetent administration and all those responsible for the utterly botched withdrawal, must go! After that, the American people must wise up and finally begin to create a competent and accountable civil service in place of a power hungry federal bureaucracy.
As the situation in Kabul deteriorates, the Biden administration seems increasingly untethered to reality, boasting about an evacuation gone haywire and lying about stranded Americans.
Americans are stranded in Afghanistan. That’s a fact. You don’t have to have special military clearance to know it, or access to classified information, or be in contact with Americans in Kabul or elsewhere in Afghanistan. All you have to do is follow the news.
For days now, reports coming out of Afghanistan have chronicled the dire situation of Americans unable to get to the airport in Kabul, unable to get past Taliban checkpoints outside the airport, and unable to get through the airport gates because of the desperate and sometimes deadly mobs gathered there.
Members of Congress are even sharing information on social media about Americans trapped in Kabul, some of them terrified of being discovered by the Taliban, begging to be rescued before it’s too late.
So when White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki “called out” Fox News’s Peter Doocy on Monday for asking about these stranded Americans, and said there are no Americans stranded in Afghanistan, she was lying. And everyone knows it.
This kind of blatant dissimulation has become a disturbing pattern. By any measure, President Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal has devolved into an unprecedented and embarrassing disaster that seems to get worse by the day. But instead of acknowledging what news reports and social media clearly show — Americans stranded, deadly chaos at the airport, Afghans rushing the gates — the Biden administration is displaying an inability or unwillingness to answer questions or even talk about the evacuation in a way that’s tethered to reality.
Psaki and other White House officials are of course trying to claim that because planes are still taking off from Kabul, no one is in fact “stranded” — at least not yet. They will likely keep repeating this incredible line until the very last plane leaves, at which point they will claim there are no Americans still trapped in Afghanistan even if every news outlet is showing the opposite.
There’s something otherworldly about all of this, an echo of the Iraqi information minister, “Baghad Bob,” who during the 2003 invasion of Iraq infamously boasted there were no U.S. tanks in Baghdad even as U.S. tanks rolled through the city just blocks away from the news conference where he was speaking.
Beyond the administration’s bald-faced lies there is the strange and inappropriate braggadocio about the evacuation. According to the warped logic of the White House, the evacuation itself has become a source of pride, even success.
In a bizarre and disjointed press conference on Sunday, President Biden boasted about the evacuation effort: “We are proving we can move thousands of people a day out of Kabul,” he said, noting that some 11,000 people had been airlifted out of the Afghanistan capital in the past 36 hours, and 37,000 since Aug. 14.
He went on to brag about how the U.S. government has hastily established processing centers in a number of countries around the world to receive the thousands of people fleeing Afghanistan — as if the need to cobble together a network of processing centers was a great accomplishment, instead of an admission that the administration had failed to plan for this inevitability months ago.
All these talking points were repeated Monday by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. The chaotic scenes at the Kabul airport — the mobs at the gates, the warning shots and flashbang grenades to hold back the crowds, the babies being lifted over razor wire to U.S. soldiers — are all evidence not of the U.S. government’s gross incompetence, but of its strength.
But the American people can smell a rat. We all know the administration is lying, and as American lives are placed in ever greater danger with each passing day, at some point the lies will become unconscionable, even obscene.
So far, there have been no reports of American deaths, thank God. But that could change quickly. According to Biden’s timeline, U.S. forces have one week to complete their evacuation, a task that seems well-nigh impossible, given the number of people who are trying to leave and the reported conditions on the ground. On Monday, a Taliban spokesman warned on “consequences” if U.S. forces stay beyond the Aug. 31 deadline.
It remains unclear, too, whether the Taliban can retain adequate control over Kabul over the next seven days to prevent attacks on U.S. troops or civilians from other armed groups, including ISIS, which is reportedly in the area.
If they can’t, and Americans are attacked and killed in Kabul or elsewhere, will Psaki stand before the cameras and claim otherwise? Maybe, but it’s more likely she and every other White House official will emphasize how well the evacuation went off, how many people they flew out in however many hours, and what a smashing success, really, this whole thing has been.
Iran touts US failure in Afghanistan as it increases enrichment of weapons-grade uranium
Iran is set to hold a series of war drills with Russia and China, as the hardline regime celebrates the United States’ bungled evacuation in Afghanistan and boosts its enrichment of nuclear weapons-grade uranium to historically high levels.
Iranian and Russian leaders announced on Monday that their countries, along with China, will hold joint maritime war exercises in the Persian Gulf later this year or early in 2022, according to Iran’s state-controlled media. The countries said they will focus on “shipping security and combating piracy” as the United States reduces its military footprint in the region following its marred withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The announcement comes as the rogue countries step up their involvement in war-torn Afghanistan amid a hurried effort by the Biden administration to evacuate U.S. personnel from the country. Iran, Russia, and China have all expressed an interest in replacing the United States as a powerbroker in the nation and working with the newly installed Taliban government. Iran’s foreign ministry announced that “Iran is in contact with all parties in Afghanistan to pave the ground for dialogue and reconciliation” and that the Russian and Chinese embassies remain functioning.
Iran’s new hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, celebrated what he called America’s “military failure” in Afghanistan last week, saying the Biden administration’s “military defeat and its withdrawal must become an opportunity to restore life, security, and durable peace in Afghanistan.” Iranian officials also have sought to increase ties with the Taliban, historically a regional enemy, as it expands its footprint in the region.
As the situation in Afghanistan deteriorates for the United States, Iran has increased its enrichment of uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon. The International Atomic Energy Agency reported late last week that Iran produced uranium metals that were enriched up to 20 percent purity for the first time in its history. It also amped up its uranium enrichment program to 60 percent purity, a threshold level that allows the regime to produce the fuel needed for a nuclear weapon.
The move was met with consternation by the United States and its European allies, but they did not take any steps to sanction Iran or issue penalties for its breach of the 2015 nuclear accord. The United States said Iran must cease its enrichment, but would not go further than a public reproach. France, Germany, and the United Kingdom also acknowledged their concerns on the IAEA report in a joint statement on Thursday.
Behnam Ben Taleblu, an Iran expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Washington Free Beacon that “the botched Afghanistan drawdown is a propaganda coup for Tehran.”
The Islamic Republic “has long advanced the idea that America can be forced from the region through a sustained death-by-a-thousand-cuts military strategy,” Taleblu said. “Moreover, it is trying to get local actors who are pro-American to accommodate rising Iranian power by saying those who work with Washington will one day be abandoned.”
Iran’s latest enrichment levels are a signal to the U.S. administration that the country “is increasingly comfortable with escalation and has survived peak pressure,” Taleblu said. “Would you be afraid of a state which has denigrated instruments of national power like economic sanctions and military force in a bid to change your national security policy?”
As Iran increases its regional footprint and funds terrorist groups operating in and around Afghanistan, the Biden administration is pursuing negotiations aimed at securing a revamped nuclear agreement.
The State Department has made clear that it remains open to talks even as Iran refuses to come back to the bargaining table. Tehran wants full-scale sanctions relief and access to hard currency, but claims the Biden administration is not going far enough in its concessions, which are rumored to include the removal of sanctions on Iran’s financial system and other sources of revenue for the regime.
U.S. Iran envoy Robert Malley said last week the Biden administration is prepared to present Iran with a new nuclear deal should talks on reentering the 2015 accord fall apart, according to Politico.
Iran recently enlisted U.S. ally Japan in its pursuit of sanctions relief. Japanese foreign minister Toshimitsu Motegi landed in Tehran over the weekend to discuss ways both countries can pressure the Biden administration into granting Iran sanctions relief.
“To revive the [nuclear deal], the United States must abandon its excessive demands,” Motegi was quoted as saying following meetings with high-ranking Iranian government officials.
Will the government of Afghanistan survive America's retreat?
It’s not just generals who are always prepared to fight the last war. President Biden’s April 14 announcement that U.S. forces will leave Afghanistan before the 20th anniversary of 9/11 has a long and complicated backstory. Biden said his decision will allow America to put this violent and ambiguous past behind it, to retire the frameworks that conditioned its foreign policy for a generation, and to focus its energies on the competition with China.
Perhaps so. The risk, however, is that Biden’s fixation on settling old scores has blinded him to contemporary realities, has prevented him from answering the question that will determine the future of both Afghan and U.S. security: Will the democratically elected government of Afghanistan survive American withdrawal?
Behind the official statements of Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken is the assumption that our exit (and that of our NATO allies) won’t jeopardize the existence of the regime based in Kabul. “While we will not stay involved in Afghanistan militarily,” Biden said, “our diplomatic and humanitarian work will continue.” Blinken echoed this sentiment at a press availability during his surprise visit to Kabul, when he said that “Even when our troops come home, our partnership with Afghanistan will continue.”
The robust promotion of civil society, counterterrorism, education for women and girls—none of this, we are told, will be interrupted when our soldiers leave. Nor will the enemy of civilization, the Taliban militia whose safe harbor for al-Qaeda was the reason for our intervention in 2001, abandon peace negotiations and impose its theocratic will through military force. “We have an expectation that the Taliban is going to abide by their commitments that they are not going to allow Afghanistan to become a pariah state,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the other day. “That’s our view.”
And a remarkably foolish view it is. You know the Taliban—always looking out for its international reputation. Of course there is no evidence that the Taliban has changed its methods, moderated its ideology, or abandoned its ambition to impose the strictest possible interpretation of shariah law on as many Afghans as it can reach. There is no evidence that the Taliban has ceased its attacks against Afghan security forces or that it has repudiated al Qaeda. Indeed, the very “intelligence community” on which Biden places so much importance says the Taliban will escalate its war on Kabul as soon as the last American is out and that “the Afghan government will struggle to hold the Taliban at bay if the coalition withdraws support.”
A big “if.” I do not doubt that—for a time—the aid will continue to flow to Afghan democrats, that weapons will continue to be supplied, and that some degree of overwatch from satellites and drones will continue to be provided. But I am equally certain that our attention will be redirected elsewhere, that neglect will lead to negligence, and that within a few years the Afghans may find themselves on their own. There is no substitute for the forward presence of U.S. forces, who are able to assess conditions on the ground, liaise with friends and neutrals, and deter bad actors of all sorts. On this point the Biden administration agrees with me—which is why, even as it announced the Afghanistan withdrawal, it deployed additional troops to Germany and conducted Freedom of Navigation Operations in the South China Sea.
Biden’s argument is that a U.S. military footprint is no longer required in Afghanistan, that we accomplished our main objectives years ago, that the costs of force protection for our remaining 2,500 soldiers outweigh the strategic and tactical benefits they provide, that “the threat has become more dispersed, metastasizing around the globe: al-Shabaab in Somalia; al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Nusra in Syria; ISIS attempting to create a caliphate in Syria and Iraq, and establishing affiliates in multiple countries in Africa and Asia.”
But Biden is unable to draw the causal connection between America’s involvement in Afghanistan and the “metastasizing” terrorist threat that emanates from places where religious fanatics operate more freely than they do in Afghanistan. Nor does he recognize that the terrorist groups he named in his address are based in exactly those locations where America has opted, for different reasons and to varying degrees, to pursue his policy of “offshore balance” rather than onshore residence. The existence of an allied host government is crucial to our ability to intercept, interrupt, interdict, and preempt terrorists before they strike. Biden’s decision to walk away from Afghanistan puts such a government at risk.
This danger is a fact Biden will not or cannot face. He is more interested in rectifying old errors than in preventing new ones. Both the location and the text of his address referenced the history of U.S. involvement in the Afghan theater. He delivered his remarks from the White House Treaty Room, where George W. Bush announced the launch of Operation Enduring Freedom on October 7, 2001, less than a month after al-Qaeda struck New York, Washington, and United Flight 93. He mentioned that he had called President Bush in advance of his directive. He recounted his visit to Afghanistan before becoming Barack Obama’s vice president and how it convinced him that the war was needless. “It has been well publicized and published that he opposed the surge back 10 years ago,” Psaki said. “And he was vocal about that in the appropriate manner at the time.”
That’s putting it mildly. Biden was furious. He was convinced that the Joint Chiefs of Staff and commanding generals had set the terms of the debate to guarantee that Obama would maintain and expand the war. His current determination to remove American troops over the objections of military commanders, including the Joint Chiefs chairman, General Mark Milley, is evidence of his desire to prove retroactively the wisdom of his position in 2009. His rejection of a conditions-based withdrawal underscores his disagreement with the generals. He dismisses the potential adverse consequences of our departure while implicitly conceding that conditions in Afghanistan are about to become worse.
Potentially much worse. It all depends on whether the Afghan government can fight the Taliban without the guidance of American troops. If it can’t, then over time Afghanistan will revert to the pre-October 2001 status quo of civil war, tribalism, and Taliban dominion. The forces of global jihad will feel empowered. That is what happened after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, from the American withdrawal from Somalia in 1993, from the American withdrawal from Iraq in 2011. Terrorism followed each retreat.
“I’m now the fourth United States president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan: two Republicans, two Democrats,” Biden said. “I will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth.”
No, he won’t. What Biden will pass on instead is the responsibility for cleaning up his mess.
by Morgan Chalfant • Washington Free Beacon
The government of Afghanistan lost almost 15 percent of its territory last year, as Taliban insurgents continued to launch attacks amid declines in U.S. and allied military personnel.
The figure is included in a government watchdog’s latest assessment of the security situation and reconstruction effort in Afghanistan. The assessment comes as the Donald Trump administration grapples with how to move forward in what has become America’s longest war.
“Analysis of the most recent data provided by U.S. Forces in Afghanistan (USFOR-A) suggests that the security situation in Afghanistan has not improved this quarter,” states the latest quarterly report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR. “The numbers of the Afghan security forces are decreasing, while both casualties and the number of districts under insurgent control or influence are increasing.” Continue reading
The danger of Russia’s intervention in Syria, and America’s timidity in Afghanistan
To hear Vladimir Putin, Russia has become the leader of a new global war on terrorism. By contrast Barack Obama seems wearier by the day with the wars in the Muslim world that America has been fighting for more than a decade. On September 30th Russian jets went into action to support Bashar al-Assad’s beleaguered troops. It is setting up an intelligence-sharing network with Iraq and Iran. The Russian Orthodox church talks of holy war. Mr Putin’s claim to be fighting Islamic State (IS) is questionable at best. The evidence of Russia’s first day of bombing is that it attacked other Sunni rebels, including some supported by America. Even if this is little more than political theatre, Russia is making its biggest move in the Middle East, hitherto America’s domain, since the Soviet Union was evicted in the 1970s.
In Afghanistan, meanwhile, America’s campaign against the Taliban has suffered a blow. On September 28th Taliban rebels captured the northern town of Kunduz—the first provincial capital to fall to them since they were evicted from power in 2001. Afghan troops retook the centre three days later. But even if they establish full control, the attack was a humiliation. Continue reading
By Shawn Macomber
In a troubling report over at the Heritage Foundation entitled “U.S. Refusal to Ratify Rome Statute Vindicated by ICC Afghanistan Report,” Brett D. Schaefer and Steven Groves take a deep dive into the Office of the Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court’s annual Report on Preliminary Examination Activities, which, the scholars note, “indicates more clearly than ever before that the ICC is contemplating opening a criminal investigation that could include charges against U.S. persons.”
Given the current political climate in the United States and Europe, if a military intervention in Syria were to materialize it would probably be a limited “no-fly plus” aerial bombing campaign similar to NATO’s Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya. The overall record for such suppressive bombing campaigns has been positive, with examples that include the Balkans, pre-invasion Afghanistan, and Iraqi Kurdistan. A determinant factor in the success or failure of these campaigns has been the existence of an approximate parity between the military power of the targeted regime and the insurgent forces engaging it. “Boots on the ground” need not always be of the same nationality as the aircraft conducting strikes, but absent a capable ground opposition prospects for eroding a hostile regime and forcing its capitulation are slim. The Free Syrian Army’s (FSA) survival against Assad’s military offensives thus far seems to indicate its capability to rout regime forces if aided by international airstrikes, suggesting that the impact of hypothetical aerial intervention would be significant. Continue reading