When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
And the women come down to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.
— Rudyard Kipling, “The Young British Soldier,” 1890
The optics were going to be great. The Biden regime was going make history by announcing that it had finished a complete withdrawal of all U.S. troops and military contractors from Afghanistan in time for the 20th anniversary of al-Qaida’s attack on America. As the assembled corporate media adoringly gazed into his vacant eyes, Joe Biden was going to be able to claim credit for ending America’s involvement in the Afghanistan war.
Unlike the failed “Vietnamization” of the war in Southeast Asia, this time the turnover of the conflict to the locals was going to work. The kleptocratic Afghan government and its Potemkin security forces would — on their own — be able to fend off the Taliban and prevent al-Qaida from using the country as a base for future attacks against the United States.
Maybe Biden and the social justice warriors who run our military actually believed this. Or maybe they didn’t and were just hoping that the Afghan house of cards wouldn’t collapse anytime soon. Either way, they had work to do.
Before the Mother of All Photo-Ops could be staged, there remained in Afghanistan a few thousand U.S. troops and military contractors who had to be removed. Operating out of Bagram Air Base, they were providing vital intelligence and technical support to the Afghans. Although they were relatively few in number, as Sen. Tom Cotton has pointed out, their services were central to the Afghans’ order of battle since, as we had trained them, the Afghan security forces relied heavily on air power to fight the Taliban. And the viability and effectiveness of that air element depended upon the small cadre at Bagram to properly maintain and deploy the aircraft. In short, they formed the lynchpin of the Afghan army’s war fighting capability.
As Sen. Mitch McConnell noted, this arrangement was working. With the support of this small American contingent, the Afghan forces had been fighting and holding the Taliban at bay. Although the Afghans had suffered over 50,000 casualties, there had been no Americans killed or wounded in over a year.
This lack of American casualties was reportedly the result of the agreement reached by President Trump with the Taliban leadership pursuant to which U.S. troops would be drawn down provided certain conditions were met. Among those conditions was the requirement that the Taliban not target or harm Americans. Trump had made it clear that, if Americans were killed or wounded, there would be a swift and devastating armed response. Faced with Trump’s uncompromising and highly credible threat of overwhelming retribution, the Taliban had honored the agreement.
But then, with the installation of the Biden regime, enforcement of the agreement passed to a government with a figurehead who exhibited severe mental deficits and a tenuous grasp of reality. Thus governed, America began its perilous exploration of terra incognita where the Taliban — along with America’s other enemies — watched and planned how best to exploit the opportunities presented by this unprecedented disaster.
When Biden ordered that the withdrawal had to be completed by the end of August, on July 13 a so-called “dissent cable” was sent by 23 alarmed staffers at the Kabul embassy to the State Department. They warned about a swift Taliban takeover following the scheduled troop withdrawal and urged top State Department officials to promptly arrange the evacuation of the thousands of American civilians in Afghanistan.
But their warning went unheeded. Instead, before evacuating the American civilians, the Biden regime withdrew the troops and military contractors. This action caused the cessation of the Afghan security forces’ air operations.
Without airpower, the Afghan army promptly collapsed and abandoned vast troves of U.S. military equipment which are now in the possession of the Taliban. Afghanistan’s president fled, and the country descended into chaos as the Taliban took over.
It was under these dire circumstances that the belated evacuation of civilians finally began.
With the loss of the Bagram base and the Taliban’s seizure of the country, Afghanistan’s only point of exit is the Kabul airport.
To date, the U.S. and other nations have evacuated thousands even as hordes of panicked Afghans press against the airport’s perimeter fence and plead to be admitted. Because of this onslaught, 7,000 U.S. troops have been flown in to secure the airport. Meanwhile the Taliban have surrounded the facility and reportedly are beating Americans trying to reach the airport.
Nine days after the chaos erupted, Joe Biden finally emerged to take questions from a pre-approved list of White House reporters. As he stumbled over his answers, Biden said that there was “no indication” that the Taliban were stopping Americans from accessing the airport.
“Let me be clear, any American who wants to come home, we will get you home.” But, after promising to “mobilize every force necessary,” Biden conceded that he didn’t know how many Americans remained in Afghanistan and that he “cannot promise what the final outcome will be.”
Biden claimed that the mission to destroy al-Qaida in Afghanistan had been a success and that those terrorists were no longer present in the country.
Immediately following Biden’s remarks, a Pentagon spokesman acknowledged in a press briefing that he was aware of reports that the Taliban had set up “checkpoints” and were beating Americans as they tried to reach the airport. He also contradicted Biden by acknowledging that al-Qaida remains in Afghanistan.
Within 24 hours of Biden’s press conference, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul issued a warning to Americans not to go to the Kabul airport due to “security threats” by ISIS.
According to the Associated Press, embassy officials stated, without elaboration, that Afghanistan’s branch of the Islamic State now poses a “significant” threat to Americans trying to reach the airport. They also advised that ISIS may challenge the Taliban for control of Afghanistan.
So where does this leave us?
First, with the loss of the Bagram base, America’s ability to conduct air operations in Afghanistan has been seriously degraded.
Second, the thousands of Americans throughout Afghanistan are at the mercy of the Taliban and ISIS.
Third, since flights into and out of the besieged Kabul airport are the only way to enter and exit the country, the facility is now a critical chokepoint.
Fourth, the Taliban and ISIS — with or without the use of newly acquired sophisticated American ordnance — have the ability to halt those flights by means of artillery and anti-aircraft fire.
Fifth, shutting down flight operations would interdict the logistical support of the troops at the Kabul airport and place them at risk of being cut off and stranded.
If the Taliban or ISIS shut down the Kabul airport before all Americans — civilian and military — depart the country, what will be the Biden regime’s response? Will it launch a rescue operation? If so, just how would that work given that Americans are scattered across the country in areas now controlled respectively by the Taliban, ISIS, war lords, and others who stand to profit from holding hostages? Will it try to negotiate a release of the Americans? If so, with whom will it negotiate? The Taliban? ISIS? War lords? What concessions will it have to make? Will it have to release all terrorists in American custody? Will ransoms be paid? If so, how much?
The possibilities and complexities are endless and depressing.
The astoundingly incompetent Biden regime has effectively delivered us into the hands of butchers who now hold the initiative. The fate of the Americans in Afghanistan hangs in the balance, and, given the rapidly deteriorating mess created by the Biden White House and our kinder-gentler-more-inclusive woke military establishment, their future doesn’t look promising.
Over 100 years ago, Rudyard Kipling wrote of the British misadventure in Afghanistan. If he were alive today, he might well adapt his poem, “The Young British Soldier,” to describe the predicament of the Americans in Afghanistan as follows:
When the clueless Joe Biden who has mush for brains,
Has abandoned and left you on Afghanistan’s plains,
Just resign yourself to being bound up in chains
And go to your fate as a hostage.
George Parry is a former federal and state prosecutor. He blogs at knowledgeisgood.net and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.