Our departure from Afghanistan under the supervision and alleged protection of the Taliban represents a historic humiliation of the United States. Executing a sophisticated attack [update: the Pentagon has now revised its account] at the Kabul airport, terrorists killed at least 13 U.S. troops and 95 Afghans. Dozens more were injured. The attack deepened our humiliation and erased another administration talking point.
The casualties fill our hearts with rage and sorrow. There must be an accounting and accountability.
President Biden took to the lectern in the East Room of the White House to make a statement and field a few questions. The White House has posted the transcript here. I have posted the White House video below.
Here are 12 thoughts and observations in the form of bullet points.
• Biden is spent. His remarks were pathetic and stupid. He gives human form to our humiliation. He embodies it. Anyone can see that.
• Charles Lipson rendered this concise verdict after the attack but before Biden’s remarks: “This deadly fiasco didn’t just happen on his watch. It happened because of his decisions, a series of fundamentally bad ones, taken by the President himself.” Anyone can see that too.
• Our political system does not offer an appropriate remedy for the epic failure of the Biden administration. Has any president ever stood so exposed in the opening months of his administration? Have we ever had a more ridiculous vice president than Kamala Harris standing next in line? Next in line after Kamala Harris is Nancy Pelosi. Next in line after Nancy Pelosi is Patrick Leahy.
• Biden vowed: “To those who carried out this attack, as well as anyone who wishes America harm, know this: We will not forgive. We will not forget.” His vow made me reflect on Biden’s literal memory issues. He can’t even remember the name of his Secretary of Defense — you know, the General.
• It is hard to take Biden’s vow seriously in the context of our retreat and surrender. It has a Monty Python quality to it.
• The word “mission” appears 12 times in Biden’s remarks. Biden asserted, for example: “We will not be deterred by terrorists. We will not let them stop our mission. We will continue the evacuation.” What is the “mission”? I infer that the mission is to bug out by the Biden/Taliban deadline of August 31. That is the “mission” from which “we will not be deterred.”
• The terrorist attack demonstrated the weakness of our reliance on the Taliban to provide security at the airport. Anyone can see that too. It is an essential element of our humiliation. Matt Continetti explores this component of our humiliation in “Biden Subcontracts U.S. Security to Terrorists.”
• In response to the question posed by Trevor from Reuters following his remarks Biden explained the interest of the Taliban in facilitating our retreat and surrender. Biden doesn’t even understand the interest of the United States. He and his administration certainly don’t understand the Taliban’s perception of its interest.
• Biden did not dispute and partly confirmed the Politico story “U.S. officials provided Taliban with names of Americans, Afghan allies to evacuate.” Subhead: “The White House contends that limited information sharing with the Taliban is saving lives; critics argue it’s putting Afghan allies in harm’s way.”
• Biden asserted that our abandonment of Bagram comported with the advice of his military advisers: “They concluded — the military — that Bagram was not much value added, that it was much wiser to focus on Kabul. And so, I followed that recommendation.” Can that be true?
• Whether that is true or false, it comported with Biden’s remarks over the past two weeks. Biden has routinely passed the buck and blamed everyone but himself for the events of the day. He is without shame.
• Quotable quote: “Ladies and gentlemen, they gave me a list here. The first person I was instructed to call on was Kelly O’Donnell of NBC.” Biden’s minders in the daycare operation at the White House have failed to impress on him that he is to omit their instructions from his remarks.
NOTE: For my heading I have adapted the heading on Austin Bay’s Strategy Page column “The Deadly Consequences of Biden’s Bugout.”