Biden's Afghanistan Bungle: Wrong Man, Right Thing, Worst Way | Opinion

When it comes to the fast-accelerating calamity in Afghanistan, President Joe Biden is the wrong man, doing the right thing, in the absolute worst way.

It is for this reason that in his brief, no questions-allowed White House remarks on Monday, the president created the ultimate straw man, defending the decision to withdraw rather than his disastrously executed withdrawal itself.

Waging war in Afghanistan—the Taliban having harbored the al-Qaeda jihadist group responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks—was an eminently reasonable decision at the time.

We should have struck al-Qaeda and its Taliban protectors with such shock and awe that neither would ever dare so much as think to touch an American again. This would have sent a message to Islamic supremacists the world over that when threatened, our response will be swift and crippling. Then we should have left.

This required knowing our enemy.

Had we done so, we would have never sought to turn an Islamist-overrun, fiercely tribal, 7th-century relic—not a Germany or a Japan, either by its nature or the threat it posed—into a Switzerland.

We would have fought free of crippling rules of engagement—as we previously did in Germany and Japan.

We would have set clear, concrete, realistic objectives, and we would have had a clear exit strategy.

We would have exited before the faintest whiff of mission creep set in.

A broader campaign to punish jihadists and those who refused to turn them over would have been governed by the same thinking. A plan for deterring jihadists and their harborers abroad through the use of overwhelming force in select situations, and defending the homeland against Islamic supremacists by vigorously pursuing those already here—as well as their aiders, abettors and enablers, and preventing others from ever crossing our borders in the first instance—should have ruled the day.

Instead, in Afghanistan and other domains, we bound ourselves to a farcical, rudderless, morass of a war—binding our hands, burning trillions of dollars and wasting countless lives in an effective racket. The war was a zombie engagement that not only failed to serve the national interest, but actively undermined it.

Our purported representatives must do a real postmortem. The record should document the root causes of the Afghanistan failure: The ignorance, arrogance, greed and the imperative among invested actors to keep the charade going for as long as possible. Countless heads should roll. The lessons learned should drive new policy innovations and mandate reforms of old ones.

But of course, this is a pipe dream. At best, we'll get toothless Kabuki hearings. Too many in Washington are implicated in the catastrophe of Afghanistan, so no one will be held accountable for it. It's the same as with the many Ruling Class scandals we've witnessed in recent years, from the origins of the coronavirus to Spygate. Our institutions, when under siege, protect themselves.

All of these matters ought to be thoroughly investigated. But these are not the issues at hand today.

US President Joe Biden speaks about the
President Joe Biden speaks about the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan from the East Room of the White House August 16, 2021, in Washington, D.C. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

At issue today is the disgracefully botched execution of an exit by a leader who, unlike his predecessor, is self-evidently neither feared nor respected.

At issue today is the failure of the Woke military and intelligence apparatus that the president commands.

At issue today is the propaganda coup our adversaries are enjoying, the strategic vacuum they will now fill and the reality setting in that while Emperor Biden meanders with no clothes, Emperor Xi may well make a move at Taiwan and beyond.

That the administration is poised to compound this disaster by layering on top of it another refugee-driven immigration crisis only further demonstrates the insane priorities of our current leaders, sure to be seized upon by those who wish us harm. It only further demonstrates that the elites have learned nothing—simply moving from the politically correct naivete of a generation ago to the cynical, Woke "equity" agenda of today.

And what should they have learned, having paid no price for their folly? How else to explain that while the Biden administration has articulated no plan to do the bare minimum of protecting Americans stuck in Afghanistan, it is fixing to take in up to 30,000 Afghan refugees at U.S. military bases? While betraying those Afghans who did courageously fight alongside us would be wrong, how does the administration justify not putting Americans first? Does anyone believe the U.S. government is capable of vetting these individuals? If not, doesn't prudence demand that if we're going to be in the refugee resettlement business, we do so at a safe distance from our shores, at minimal cost and in a place they are likely to assimilate?

Think about this: The 9/11 terror attacks were at core a failure of immigration, as well as related intelligence. Twenty years on, we're inviting tens of thousands from the first country we targeted in response to those attacks, again under control of the very regime that had harbored the very 9/11 attackers, to immigrate here. What could possibly go wrong?

Indeed, 9/11 is the elephant in the room here. The greatest travesty of all—on top of the incalculable loss of blood and treasure—is that two decades later, the efforts putatively aimed at avenging our dead have largely failed. America's elites even rescued defeat from the jaws of one of their sole unambiguous victories, by converting the disarmament of Libya's Muammar Qaddafi into Benghazi. Israel and several Sunni Arab nations were initially driven together in response to a former American president, Barack Obama, explicitly empowering the world's leading state sponsor of jihad, Iran—a protector of none other than al-Qaeda.

Joe Biden is indeed the wrong man, doing the right thing by withdrawing from Afghanistan, in the absolute worst way. But he's also the perfect man to do it—the ultimate D.C. Swamp creature uniquely culpable for the foreign policy that frittered away America's strategic position, as a former chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, vice president and now commander-in-chief.

His response to criticism of the Ruling Class for which he serves as an avatar further makes Biden a perfect man for the times. The Ruling Class, which has led failure after failure, does not engage in introspection. It does not hold itself accountable. It does not reform itself.

Rather, when faced with its myriad failures, it seeks to make enemies of those calling the failures out. It casts them as racists, bigots and, yes, terrorists.

The transition from a failed "Global War on Terror" to a Domestic War on Wrongthink against those who dare to dissent from the America Last project, and its architects, therefore makes complete sense.

Former President Donald Trump and the tens of millions of pesky like-minded Americans make for the only thing separating the Ruling Class from complete, unmitigated power.

Americans can only hope those seeking absolute control show the same competence here as they have abroad.

Ben Weingarten is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, fellow at the Claremont Institute and senior contributor to The Federalist. He is the author of American Ingrate: Ilhan Omar and the Progressive-Islamist Takeover of the Democratic Party (Bombardier, 2020). Ben is the founder and CEO of ChangeUp Media LLC, a media consulting and production company. Subscribe to his newsletter at, and follow him on Twitter: @bhweingarten.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.

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