Pelosi’s mush on Afghanistan

Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement regarding the debacle in Afghanistan:

The President is to be commended for the clarity of purpose of his statement on Afghanistan and the actions he has taken.

The Taliban must know that the world is watching its actions. [Query: Does it care?] We are deeply concerned about reports regarding the Taliban’s brutal treatment of all Afghans, especially women and girls. The U.S., the international community and the Afghan government must do everything we can to protect women and girls from inhumane treatment by the Taliban.

Any political settlement that the Afghans pursue to avert bloodshed must include having women at the table. [Query: Political settlement? Hasn’t the matter been settled militarily?] The fate of women and girls in Afghanistan is critical to the future of Afghanistan. As we strive to assist women, we must recognize that their voices are important, and all must listen to them for solutions, respectful of their culture. There is bipartisan support to assist the women and girls of Afghanistan. One of the successes of U.S.- NATO cooperation in Afghanistan was the progress made by women and girls. We must all continue to work together to ensure that is not eroded.

Once again, I want to acknowledge the clarity of purpose of President Biden’s statement and the wisdom of his actions. Congress shares the President’s concern for Afghans who have assisted U.S. efforts in country, and we passed Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) legislation to provide for their relocation on a strong, bipartisan basis.

Most of all, we join the President in acknowledging the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform and their families.

One can sympathize deeply with the girls and women of Afghanistan without carrying identity politics as far as Pelosi does in her statement. It’s almost as if she would be okay with the Taliban if it inflicted misery equally, without regard to gender.

When Pelosi tells members of her caucus what they “must” do, she can make it stick because she has power. She knows that this word, used repeatedly in her statement, is meaningless without the force to back it up.

Pelosi also knows that, with the U.S. having given up in Afghanistan, any statements by her, Joe Biden, or any other American about what must happen there, including to Afghan women, are empty. However, she apparently believes that her words on this subject are sufficient to keep American feminists from balking at Biden’s betrayal of women and girls.

Is Pelosi wrong? I doubt it.

But Pelosi is almost certainly wrong if she believes that her “acknowledgement” of the sacrifices by our men and women in uniform will satisfy them. The question is how deep the military’s disgust with Biden’s withdrawal will run — both among the rank-and-file and at the upper levels.

Our military has been drifting leftwards for years — at least its leadership has. Will the re-run of Saigon in Kabul change the dynamic?

General Milley, who has helped push the military leftward, looks awful now. His predictions about the military state of play in Afghanistan are embarrassing.

Milley thus would make a good fall guy, as would Lloyd Austin, the retired general in charge of the Pentagon. But they would be miscast in that role. Both reportedly advised Biden not to pull out of Afghanistan.

It’s probably true that we could have folded a little bit better than we did. But quitting is losing, and this is what losing to an opponent like the Taliban looks like.

It looked like this when Nixon pulled us out of Vietnam and very likely would have looked pretty much like this had Obama or Trump pulled us out of Afghanistan. That’s probably why neither of these presidents, both considerably smarter than Biden, could bring himself to pull us out.

The military leadership isn’t just being groomed for the fall guy role in connection with the disaster brought about by our withdrawal. It’s being attacked in connection with almost our entire stay in Afghanistan — for all but the very beginning when we routed the Taliban.

The military makes mistakes in every war of more than very brief duration. But the military didn’t fail in Afghanistan. It drove the Taliban from power and kept it from regaining power for nearly 20 years — until Joe Biden decided to hand the country over.

It’s true that the military didn’t re-defeat the Taliban. Its main attempt to do so was destined to fail because Barack Obama put a time limit on the duration of our offensive. The Taliban knew if it held out for a bit, it would avoid defeat.

It’s certainly possible that the military would not have defeated the Taliban even without the absurdity of Obama’s approach. But it did stalemate the Taliban, and did so in the end with a small U.S. force.

In sum, any effort to pin the Afghan disaster on the “generals” is largely unfair. But maybe a consensus can form around that narrative, which serves Biden and apparently isn’t uncongenial to most conservatives.

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