The Straight Story on Afghanistan

With the exception of the New York Post, American newspapers are generally trying to downplay the ongoing fiasco in Afghanistan. For example, my home town newspaper, the Star Tribune, does not have a single word about Afghanistan on today’s front page.

To get more candid coverage, it helps to go overseas, as to the Telegraph: “Joe Biden’s asinine handling of Afghanistan could gift Donald Trump the White House.” The article is by the Telegraph’s U.S. editor:

It’s a bit early in his tenure for a political obituary. But for Joe Biden the Afghanistan debacle may be presidency-shattering. HMS Biden is now holed below the water line and slowly sinking.

Donald Trump scents blood in the water and is popping up on the airwaves to put the boot in to his hapless successor.

That’s not to say that, if Mr Trump were still president, the US departure from Afghanistan would have been any less chaotic.

It’s just that American voters – and the Taliban – know the US reaction to the crisis would have been very different under a President Trump.

Mr Biden, shamefully, sought to blame Afghans themselves. His officials meekly pleaded with the Taliban to allow American citizens safe passage to the airport.

And, in Washington, not a single head rolled in response to what one Pentagon official called a “s—show”.

What would Mr Trump have done if confronted with this monumental insult to American pride? Well, for starters he would have fired the head of every US intelligence service that touched any piece of information out of Afghanistan in recent months.

Then, he would probably have called for Ashraf Ghani, the former president of Afghanistan who fled Kabul on Sunday, to be detained for cowardice, and delivered a tirade down the phone to the leader of any country harbouring him.

And then, he would have publicly threatened to rain down “fire and fury” on the Taliban unless it helped US citizens, their allies and translators get to Kabul airport.

After his press conference Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, would have faced the very real possibility of his house being flattened by a MOAB if he didn’t comply.

The Taliban know a bully when they see one. Americans, and Britons, would have found themselves swept to the airport with an armed Taliban escort and an apology.

It is a thought experiment, reminiscent of the time when Iran’s mullahs released their American hostages on Ronald Reagan’s inauguration day.

More at the link, e.g.:

Mr Biden’s attempt to retrieve the situation in a TV interview on Thursday was an unmitigated car crash – despite the interview being conducted by Bill Clinton’s former White House press chief.

Viewers heard Mr Biden saying he “can’t recall” – never a good phrase for a president to use – being advised by his generals that he should leave 2,500 troops in Afghanistan. There is evidence to suggest that he was advised of that.

Nor did he remember any of his intelligence officials suggesting the Afghan government and military might possibly collapse like a house of cards the moment the US left. Again, there are suggestions they did tell him this.

Bizarrely, Mr Biden said he always expected the withdrawal to be chaotic. And, strangest of all, for a politician famed for empathy, he showed not a jot of it for those who fell to their deaths clinging to the wheels of a fleeing US aircraft.

As happens so often, newspaper readers in other countries are getting a more clear-eyed view of events in the U.S., and events in which we are critically involved, than newspaper readers here at home.

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