As the Afghanistan debacle has unfolded, I have been following the coverage in various foreign newspapers. The coverage I have seen has been harshly critical of the Biden administration, to a degree that more or less equals what we see in the conservative press here in the U.S.
Take, for example, a news story and two commentary pieces in today’s Telegraph. First, the news story by U.S. correspondent Jamie Johnson. At the top of the page is the now-famous photo of Joe Biden on the verge of bursting into tears during his press appearance last night. The story begins:
US President Joe Biden crumbled under questioning by a Fox News reporter on Thursday night, as Donald Trump said his handling of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan was “embarrassing”.
In what was labelled a moment of “weakness” the president looked resigned as he tried to explain that it was Mr Trump who ordered troops to be withdrawn and that his only alternative was to send more US soldiers to the country.
Faced with Fox News reporter Peter Doocy, Mr Biden struggled to accept the blame for the chaotic US withdrawal.
That is brutal, but the opinion pieces, not surprisingly, are worse. The headline on Douglas Murray’s piece is, “Can the world afford another three and a half years of President Biden?” The subhead is “Britain has grown used to a strong America. Now, it must contend with a weak leadership in retreat.” It gets worse from there.
In another opinion piece, Iain Duncan Smith writes, “Biden’s colossal mess is even worse than we thought.”
This tragic mess comes back to President Biden. He owns every decision – and the consequences are also his.
In reality, of course, there was nothing inevitable about the violence and chaos of the withdrawal. Meanwhile, officials have been letting it be known that Biden was indeed warned that the Afghan security services were likely to crumble in the face of the Taliban. He was even warned that if he shut Bagram airbase, he would cut off Afghan forces from their vital air support (a significant factor in their collapse) and lose the best place to evacuate from. He seems to have ignored that advice as well.
That’s why, nearly eight hours after yesterday’s attack, when Biden ghosted into the White House East Room he looked shell shocked. After all, in the last eighteen months, there have been no US or allied casualties in Afghanistan, no terrorist attacks from Afghanistan, and the Taliban were being held at bay by the Afghan forces, supported by Nato. In a matter of a few weeks, all of that has been thrown away, leaving the whole of Nato having to rely on the factional Taliban for their security.
Sadly, our allies are asking serious questions about whether the United States can any longer be trusted. A partial answer is, certainly not as long as Joe Biden is president.