As Democrats prepare to become the minority party once again by rushing through monstrous climate change legislation on pure party line votes, President Biden hopes that the legacy of his first term can be written in the next few weeks. After a disastrous couple of years, Biden is attempting to unring the bells of inflation, high gas prices, food rationing and war as the centerpieces of his foreign and domestic policy. He is hoping the American voter has a short memory, and desperately desires radical action on climate change instead of steady leadership at home and abroad. He’s hoping that people forget about the one issue that turned his presidency on its head, and forced him to negative approval territory - a place from which he never recovered. That, of course, was his disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Biden has flip-flopped on Afghanistan since 9/11. After the Twin Towers fell, Biden was an incredibly hawkish voice, criticizing President George W. Bush for not going far enough. From the Washington Post on February 5, 2002: “Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.) challenged President Bush's decision to leave Afghan peacekeeping to other countries. He said the failure to establish a solid national government could create a ‘lawless safe haven for anti-American terrorists.’
‘Security is the basic issue in Afghanistan,’ Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a Washington speech. ‘Whatever it takes, we should do it. History will judge us harshly if we allow the hope of a liberated Afghanistan to evaporate because we failed to stay the course.’ In that same speech, Biden promoted nation building in Afghanistan, providing resources to the interim Afghan government to get up and running.
Six years later, in February 2008, Biden lamented that Afghanistan was “slipping towards failure” because it's “not a priority” compared to the war in Iraq and “it has to become one.” Biden viewed Afghanistan as a necessary war, a war that was worthwhile for Americans to spend resources on, as opposed to Iraq. Biden was using the war in Afghanistan as a political weapon, because Iraq was seen as Bush’s war while Afghanistan was in response to 9/11. So he had no issue tossing that war aside when the weapon was no longer viable politically.
Less than a year later, In February 2009, when he became Vice President, Biden started questioning Afghanistan. “None of you nor I know what our goal is in Afghanistan. What is the goal?” he asked the press gaggle. Now that the Democrats were in power, they were forced to take responsibility for the ground war. Instead of being the political asset it was during the campaign, Afghanistan was a political liability.
In 2011, in a joint press conference with Afghan President Karzai, Biden said, “Let me say it plainly, Mr. President, it is not our intention to govern or to nation-build.” He expressed the administration's desire and plan to leave Afghanistan by 2014, but pledged to stay if the Afghan people wanted it. “...we are not leaving,” he said, “if you don't want us to leave. And we plan on continuing to work with you, and it’s in the mutual self-interest of both our nations.” Yet a year later, during a Vice Presidential debate with Paul Ryan (Mitt Romney’s VP candidate), Biden said, “we’re out of there in 2014.” He claimed that it does not “depend for us,” basically saying that they are out of there, no matter what.
So when he was sworn into the Presidency, Joe Biden made good on his promises. Without a care or concern about the repercussions, and without a plan, he simply pulled the troops out of Afghanistan. The results spoke for themselves. A new GOP report on the evacuation of Afghanistan details how Biden misled the public on what was actually happening over there, all while patting themselves on the back for a “massive airlift.” According to the report, 1,450 children were evacuated without their parents, 800 Americans have gotten out after the military pullout, over a thousand woman and girls waited on busses for 24 hours trying to leave. Most of them are still stuck in the Taliban-controlled country. That’s just a small sampling over the 118-page report. “The choices made in the corridors of power in D.C. led to tragic yet avoidable outcomes: 13 dead service members, American lives still at great risk, increased threats to our homeland security, tarnished standing abroad for years to come, and emboldened enemies across the globe," the report reads.
Aside from the tens of millions of women that now suffer under the predations of the oppressive Taliban regime as a direct result of Biden’s actions, it is highly likely that the weakness Biden showed there emboldened Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine. All the suffering, death and horror that has occurred over the past five month of the war in Ukraine could have been avoidable if Biden dropped his ridiculous demands.
And the demands were ridiculous. The cost in American lives was next to zero at the time of the pullout. Prior to the death of 13 American servicemembers that occurred during the withdrawal, the last time a soldier was killed in action was February 2020, a full 18 months prior. There has not been a month where there were double-digit deaths since 2014. Every death is a tragedy, but the necessity to pull out to “save the troops” is a fallacy. So it the cost savings. Aside from the laughable notion that anyone in Washington - especially a Democrat like Joe Biden - is penny-pinching and worried about costs, the aftermath of the withdrawal was far more costly.
Biden’s approval took a well-deserved hit, dropping into the negative while the withdrawal was happening. He has yet to recover from this in the eyes of the American people. One year later, he can attempt to distract with as many ice cream cones and aviator shades as he wants, but the voters will not forget the day he left Americans and our allies in the hands of the people who wish death and destruction upon the United States.
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