Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Numbered Daze

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We're still not in the proper headspace for editorializing or, according to the warning labels, operating heavy machinery. But the unfolding disaster in Afghanistan demands commentary. Fortunately, William McGurn wrote a great piece for the Wall Street Journal that we're sharing here in its entirety.


A TALIBAN 9/11 - Joe Biden rushed the Afghanistan pullout for a political speech he wanted to give

William McGurn, Wall Street Journal, 8/23/21

What on earth will Joe Biden say this Sept. 11?

We know what he planned to say. He hoped to use the 20th anniversary to proclaim himself the president who had succeeded in doing what none of his predecessors— George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump —could: end the “endless war” in Afghanistan. The purpose of the artificial deadline was to provide Mr. Biden a dramatic backdrop for the speech he wanted to give.

The bungled exit has scuttled that plan. Worse, it has forever surrendered 9/11 to the Islamist fundamentalists. It is now what they meant it to be in 2001: their day of victory.

Part of this victory belongs to al Qaeda, which seared the date 9/11 into America’s memory. Today al Qaeda’s leaders have regained the haven that they used to plan and carry out the 9/11 attacks, under the same Taliban hosts who refused to give them up even after President Bush declared the U.S. wouldn’t distinguish between the terrorists who attacked us and those who harbored them.

The Taliban victory is bigger still. Over the weekend, propaganda attributed to the Taliban’s Badri 313 unit featured a photo of its fighters, clad in captured American gear, raising the Taliban flag in a parody of the iconic World War II image of Marines raising the Stars and Stripes on Iwo Jima’s Mount Suribachi. They intend to rub it in.

And why not? They won.

Back on the home front, some are arguing that it is only the botched execution, not the decision to retreat itself, that is at issue. Some further accuse President Biden of eliding responsibility by deliberately conflating the two, which he did again Sunday by emphasizing how “absolutely correct” he was in making the call to bug out.

But there is a cheaper argument about what went wrong, embedded in throwaway lines like “20 years of failure.” U.S. mistakes in Afghanistan were real, numerous, and often costly. But to write off the entire enterprise as a failure because Afghanistan didn’t transform itself into Belgium in 20 years is not serious.

Yes, there was too much optimism about remaking Afghanistan as a liberal democracy. But a more modest measure of success might yet acknowledge there is something to be said for staving off the worst—a Taliban victory. Just as we have managed in Korea, where we have 28,500 U.S. troops and there is still officially a “forever war” going on between North and South.

For as corrupt and incapable as the Afghan government was, it was a significant improvement over its predecessor—and now its successor. Not to mention Afghan women and girls whose lives are about to return to pre-medieval times. Whatever the waste and foolishness on America’s part, it’s doubtful those desperate Afghans climbing the walls at Kabul airport would be as quick to dismiss it all as 20 years of failure.

Not to mention the hit to U.S. credibility. Our most important military alliance—NATO—stands broken and discredited by the man who campaigned as the seasoned expert in diplomatic affairs. Armin Laschet, who is favored to become the new German chancellor, called the pullout a “debacle.” In the U.K., a House of Commons debate featured adjectives like “shameful” and “cruel and humiliating.” This from our friends.

On Sunday the president absurdly claimed that Moscow and Beijing read our graceless exit from Afghanistan as somehow enhancing U.S. capabilities and resolve elsewhere. To the contrary, Xi Jinping is quickly moving to replace U.S. influence in Afghanistan with China’s. And Vladimir Putin is acknowledging what he thinks of Mr. Biden’s resolve by telling the U.S. not even to think of relocating some of our forces in neighboring countries that he considers part of Russia’s sphere of influence.

So a question for those who still believe Mr. Biden was right to pull us out: Do they also believe his assurances that our loss of on-the-ground intelligence, an air base in a strategic part of the world, and an ally instead of an enemy in Kabul will all be compensated for with “over the horizon” capabilities?

No doubt most Americans have always wanted our men and women in uniform to come home. But the American people aren’t children.

It’s a pity that so few of our political leaders have been willing to make the hard argument that a continued presence in a highly strategic area might pay the kind of dividends our continued presence in, say, Germany, Japan and South Korea have. Especially given that U.S. combat responsibilities in Afghanistan had largely ended and the residual force would have been a fraction of the more than 100,000 troops we had there a decade ago (the Afghanistan Study Group suggested 4,500).

In three weeks we will mark the 20th anniversary of the deadliest attack on America’s home soil. Those who gave shelter to the terrorists who pulled it off will be whooping it up in Kabul. What on earth can Joe Biden’s speechwriters come up with now that won’t make it worse?


Mike aka Proof said...

You take a five year old to visit a friend or a relative, and when it's time to go, if you have to, you remind them to pick up any toys ar jackets they brought with them, because...we're leaving. And usually, with a little help and maybe prodding from Mom, they get it done.
Biden's exit from Afghanistan could have been improved upon by a properly trained five year old: You take with you the stuff that you brought.
Hey! Build Back Better, y'all! He just didn't say where he would build back better!

Jules said...

Thank you for sharing this WSJ article. As a Desert Storm veteran, this is heartbreaking, and should be for everyone who claims to love this country.

Jim Irre said...

McGurn makes some good points, primarily that Biden is the king of fools, but all the writings on this subject neglect the history of that region. Daniel Greenfield asks the salient question in his piece.

M. Mitchell Marmel said...

Be rather ironic if Civil War II kicked off on 9/11/21, wouldn't it?

And Greenfield's points are quite salient. The only way that Afghanistan can be 'pacified' is if it is turned into black glass. Are we ready for that?

Unknown said...

He didn't specify better for whom.

Bobo the Hobo said...

Remember when you watch clips of 12 year-old girls being dragged away crying and screaming, being forced to “marry” some horny Taliban: Anyone who voted for Biden is responsible for this debacle.

Fred Ciampi said...

Biden is guilty of treason. Plain and simple. And so are those who went along with him; Harris, Pelosi, Schumer, et al. Are there any entities in the country willing and able to carry out the task? 'Nuff said.

Bobo the Hobo said...

It only took eight months to completely destroy our reputation that took 245 years to build.

Fish Out of Water said...

What will the Obama sock puppet / village idiot president say on 9/11? Given rolling disaster debacle, etc., it hardly seems he has any standing to say anything on the 9/11's 20th anniversary. Indeed, the prospect of him addressing the nation on that day is more of an obscenity than anything else.

Contributors to the WSJ's Op-Ed page, with the exception of Peggy Noonan, always put forth compelling pieces. Mr. McGurn's is no exception. Perhaps the most succinct commentary I have read yet on this utter fiasco was made by a long-term former leader of our closest ally (not to mention former colonial oppressor ;-) ), who called what the village idiot president has wrought, 'imbecilic".

Stepping back a bit, we are seeing the results of the democratic party's 2020 election calculations. We may recall early on, who among the democrats wanted to sit behind the Resolute Desk: the Shrew of Massachusetts, the crazy, and I suspect deeply unhappy old man from Vermont, our current VP, 'Spartacus', Tom one issue Steyer and others. My belief is those behind the curtain in the democratic party saw that had any of these become the candidate for President, in 2020, they would have been faced with a political shellacking the likes of McGovern or Mondale.

Thus, Biden, because perhaps like Warren Harding, looked more Presidential and like Harding seen as more controllable, and a vehicle through which the "progressive" agenda could be pushed through, eventually became the candidate and unfortunately, now President.

Like the post-revolution chaos and disasters of France and Russia, this shame and disaster we see is what happens when amateurs and adolescents are in charge of government and policy. I do hope what the village idiot president has inflicted on our country's reputation as an ally and the Afghan people will reverberate loudly in next year's mid-terms and even more in 2024.

Last, knowing who will take his place, I say Joe must go!

Wil said...

How long do we have to put up with
this utter buffoonery? Isn't there something we can do
while we still have a country?

Pops said...

'In the U.K., a House of Commons debate featured adjectives like “shameful” and “cruel and humiliating.”'

Would that be the same house of commons that voted to condemn Trump and later voted to congratulate Biden on his win? One of the idiots also wanted to give Biden a Nobel prize....

Average Joe said...

This is too important an event in US history for me to comment flippantly. We've lost world credibility and the lives of too many Americans because of the actions of one American party and the absolute idiot they got elected illegally. If someone capable doesn't stop the bullshit rhetoric and actually step up as a future (and by that, I mean soon) leader of this country, we are really doomed. Too much that needs real leadership and too many with apathy as their real name.

Alej said...

This is merely Barack Hussein Obama 2.0.

Where was John Wilkes Booth when we needed him in 2012 ?

Linda Fox said...

I have to disagree. The Afghan government, because we supported it, never had to function as a real government. Instead, it was a kleptocracy, that bled uncounted amounts of money from the USA, AND fed resentment of it, and, by extension, the USA, into its people.
Worse, the people who worked for that government are both educated and aggrieved. And, if the Left has its way, headed to the USA.
Goody. Just what we need.

Elbarto said...

Shameful, can't say anything more, just shameful.

Fish Out of Water said...

@ Linda Fox: Perfection and the demand for such is the enemy of the good. The now in flight government of Afghanistan had it seems many warts, but warts and all, it was certainty an improvement over what it replaced as well as the Soviet puppet government that preceded.

I would point to what small amount I have read about the government of South Korea until 1987 or so its government alternated between periods of eye-rolling authoritarian rule and repression. Yet now, it boasts a world-class economy and standard of living.

Had our government demanded the same high standards I believe you expected from the Afghan government of South Korean government BITD, I doubt south Korea and its people would be were they are today.

American Cowboy said...

@ Fred Ciampi- You are as usual spot on with your assessment of Xi-Jinbiden being guilty of treason.
I would like to see enforcement of 18 U.S. Code § 2381 - Treason

TrickyRicky said...

Could this sorry episode have been handled any more disastrously if this outcome was in fact desired? No. Perhaps this was the desired outcome. As Obummer said, the US needed to be knocked off of it's high horse.......

Colby Muenster said...

And meanwhile.... Nasty Pelosi and her band of communist wannabees are hard at work trying to shove through all the extravagant spending and election "reform" crap they can, while we are distracted by a real crisis of their making. I think SloJoe is nothing but a pawn in the master plan. "Hey, Joe... how's about you immediately pull our troops out of Afghanistan? You'll be a national hero (snicker, snort)!" When the Pelosi gang is done using Joe, they'll throw him under the bus faster'n you can say "dementia." Hell, I'll bet THEY invoke the 25th Amendment!

JustaJeepGuy said...

@TrickyRicky, for some unknown reason the result in Afghanistan IS the result SOMEONE wanted. Who wanted it and why are the main questions I would like answered but undoubtedly will never see/hear/read the answers. The result I would like to see involves trials for treason and appropriate sentences therefrom. Hey, I can dream can't I?

Valvenator said...

Democrats motto: a crisis is a terrible thing to waste
so if you don't have one you whip one up, or two or three...
Between Covid and the "Insurrection" we have so many man made crises now
it's impossible to keep count, so why not add another to the mix
just for the hell of it.

M. Mitchell Marmel said...

John A. Stormer called it back in 1964.

Alfonso Bedoya said...

WE may also lose access to the vast supply of minerals, such as lithium if we create legislation banning purchases of metals from the mineral-rich Taliban-controlled northern Afghanistan and other Afghanistan-friendly countries. Biden wants to shove electric vehicles down our collective throats, but banning purchases from the Taliban might come back to bite us in our collective butts by causing inflated prices for these metals via lower supply and greater demand.

So...the question is: Will high prices for EV cars tend to save gasoline-powered vehicles from extinction by the Socialist elitists? Two greater questions: When can we kick the buffoon out of the White House, and would Heels-high Harris be worse?

Lee The Voice said...

There can still be a salvageable part in the withdrawal. We are not officially out until the 31st. That still leaves us time to evacuate all of our hardware. You would be amazed at how many armored vehicles a C-5 cargo plane can hold. The Pentagon can do it, and legally, if they will. If, that is they have the balls to do it.

Rod said...

Most federal office-holders can be legally impeached. Might impeachment of the entire team them of them be done? WE have learned that impeachment can be whateve the House wants it to be. Soon After mid-term elections: POTUS, V.P. HOUSE SPEAKER, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER. BOOT THEM ALL. For crimes; lies; open borders; surrender & endangerment of American both civilian & military; incompetence in governance; & fiscal malfeasance.
Better toss in Mean Tweets to make it a sure conviction. What comes around; goes around.
Any incumbent fence sitters on either side get recalled, shunned, primaryed in 2024, or worse.
Are enough people sufficiently fed up with this crap to force it on their reps? All politics are local.

Colby Muenster said...


The problem is, the ones who have the power to impeach and the ones who need impeaching are the same people.

Fish Out of Water said...

So true Colby, so sadly true.

Dan said...

35 min ago, Jennifer Griffin of Fox reported 11 Marines and their Navy Corpsman were killed by suicide bomber at a gate to Kabul International.

There's a Pentagon press briefing ongoing between 3 and 3:30 ET right now.

Rod said...

@ Colby & Fish OTW: Yeah, so true now. But maybe if things could start changing soon... Couldn't that change after midterms? I've not had time to look into that in detail. The good guys need to learn how to use their power as well as the "others" AND commit to doing it.

Fish Out of Water said...

I am beginning to believe our moderator/host may have been on to something with the title of this post. I just cannot see the Obama sock puppet/ village idiot president surviving this for much longer.

For those with a better memory than I. does this firestorm resemble in its intensity, the blowback after the Bay of Pigs disaster?

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Readers- Good conversation, as always. I'm right now watching the breaking news reports of the suicide bombings in Afghanistan - last count, 12 US service members dead, and 48 others killed including children...and the body count is expected to go up.

I am beyond livid. We're being told that the effing Taliban failed to provide enough security for our people. WTF doesn't begin to describe this chaos.

Bloodbath Biden should be removed from office immediately, after which he can be impeached and/or imprisoned at whatever pace the law allows.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Fish Out of Water- Biden is supposed to address the nation 45 minutes from now (3:15 central 8/26). Hopefully his resignation will be the main topic, though I'm not betting on it. That being said, if the SOB does step down today, the drinks are on me. And better drinks than Clan MacGregor!

Fish Out of Water said...

Triple Smoke perhaps?

To those who also shudder at the thought of the hoe becoming our next President, while viscerally, the thought of her stepping behind to sit at the Resolute Desk gives pause, but she owns this too and if she does succeed the village idiot president, this will hang around her neck like the Ancient Mariner's albatross.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Fish Out of Water- Triple Smoke sounds right for the occasion! And yes, I hate the thought of Kamala Harris stepping in to the presidency, but she couldn't really be worse than Joe outside of having less likelihood to suddenly keel over.

You're right, though, that a lot of this stink would remain attached to Kamala - and pretty much any administration member who had anything to do with this historic fiasco.

And did you see Nancy Pelosi's response to our troop deaths? Hours after the event, she tweeted about today being Women's Equality Day...and didn't mention the Kabul massacre at all. I trust that she's corrected it by now - because of the optics rather than giving an actual sh*t.

Fish Out of Water said...

@Stilton: Nancy Pelosi is, has been, and will forever be a tone-deaf, clueless, bubble wrapped dilatant and a long ago lost cause.

In light of the lives lost today, I don't mean to seem heartless and cold, but oh how I am now looking forward to the mid-term elections.

Marooned Maroon said...

Biden's speechwriters can "call a lid" from Friday evening, September 10 until Monday morning, September 13. Let sleepy, creepy Uncle Joe catch up on his zzz's.

Fish Out of Water said...

So the village idiot president decided to act as if he has a pair and promised to hunt people down.

Nice words. Now does he or anyone in his coterie of adolescents have the field intelligence to decisively act upon, or will the response be another fig leaf like slick Willie using tomahawk missiles to destroy some tents?

He might look upon this as a godsend, a salvation to his presidency.

Last, one might hope this militancy might also put the march of the Woke to a halt.

Rod said...

Biden's just-completed speech: Exactly as expected... Ridiculously inept Biden-speak. Did it make you feel any better Stilt? Uhhh.. Stilt? Are you still with us?

Fred Ciampi said...

As soon as byedone said "we will hunt them down" my first thought was of Elmer Fudd tip toing through the glen with his shotgun saying "Shhhhhhh, I'm hunting tewwerosts."

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Readers- Biden's "speech" (still reading from the big-screen TV teleprompters in the back of the press room) stunk as much as I thought it would. I can promise you that he'll blow up something useless and declare it a victory against Isis-K, but (as Fish Out of Water suggests) it will be the equivalent of Slick Willy's missile attack on an empty aspirin factory.

And say, when Biden is pretending to be tough, he really shouldn't follow up "...and we know who they are" with "well, we're not sure." He only had the terrorists scared for about 3/4 of a second before they breathed a sigh of relief.

What a sad disgrace this "president" is.

Fish Out of Water said...

My memory may be a bit faulty due to my 20 years + overseas (Ford was still President and Slick Willie was sweating out his impeachment trial when I returned) , but given the recent events abroad, especially of yesterday, I don't believe I have seen so much anger directed at a sitting President since President Ford pardoned Nixon.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Fish Out of Water- And every iota of that anger is appropriate. I really try to practice the adage "never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity," but what we've been seeing ("Hey, let's put our lives in the hands of the Taliban!") transcends stupidity by such a degree that I believe we're seeing events play out the way the string-pullers want them to play out.

Why would they want a blood-soaked debacle? Because it will effectively end support for getting involved in foreign wars, even if for our own self-defense. Those in charge care only about domestic policies and spending (ie, consolidation of their power). And frankly, I think the plan is a "twofer" to also drop Biden as the figurehead president (by advising him to take these ludicrous and tragic actions) and install Harris.

Edam Wensleydale said...

The string-pullers need to be exposed and, well, appropriate actions taken.

Fish Out of Water said...

@Stilton- Yes, the Isolationist, America Firster (Pre WW2) is strong with these idiots. Interesting to note, and a fact not unfortunately taught in public schools (even when I attended) is that the Nazis courted the predecessors of today's Islamists which include the Taliban and ISIS. Birds of a feather.

Been taken to task about 'what about the rage expressed over the past 4 years?'. My answer to that is that while yes, it was a sustained and stoked rage, the outrage we see now is far more white hot that the faux rage of the past 4 years.

JustaJeepGuy said...

Wait a minute, @Stilt; you said "Why would they want a blood-soaked debacle? Because it will effectively end support for getting involved in foreign wars..." I thought that the military-industrial complex wanted permanent wars so they could get rich supplying the weapons and such. When someone is making money hand-over-fist selling arms, the Demo_Rats will forget that they're supposed to be opposed to the wars and will definitely want in on the money-go-round. Besides, the constant wars take out those who would fight against the commies (a.k.a. the Demo_Rats) so they most assuredly want the wars. The Demo_Rats are evil scumbuckets all the way. I don't have the words to express the totality of my loathing of them.

Fish Out of Water said...

Well Stilton, we called it. A drone strike was carried out which supposedly took out an ISIS leader, or did it? Remarkable there was that degree of intelligence available so quickly. If that sort of intelligence was already available why wasn't it acted upon earlier?

Anonymous said...

Hey, that was nothing. Just wait until Joe takes them out behind the gym and beats the hell out of them.

Rod said...

@ Fish OTW: BINGO. Exactly. All bullshit. Someone may have died at great expense to make Joe look like a tough guy; but it's useless act and this is ridiculous.

Dan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan said...

Someday I'll proofread first...

Drone strike on (I read) a moving car halfway around the world. Within the realm of possibility.

If we can do that, why not some heat from UAVs on the Blackhawks, other aircraft, and known arms depots.

Maybe standoff JDAMS or something better.

May have to wait for September 1.

Fish Out of Water said...

Don't know about the rest of you but having the village idiot president at Dover AFB (which BTW is the first point mortuary facility for our armed forces) as the 13 bodies of those killed due to his appalling incompetence came home, struck me as obscene.

If he has any sense of honor and decency, he'll not show up at any 9/11 memorial service.

John the Econ said...

Sorry I'm late to the party as Mrs. Econ & I were largely off the grid on vacation when this went down.

Now Biden's 20th Anniversary 9-11 speech now gets to be about America's total failure. As one of Mark Steyn's readers pointed out, perhaps West Point can get a couple of Taliban leaders to teach some courses. I mean, people who've actually won a war within the last half-century.

So basically we bugged out in the middle of the night without letting our NATO allies in on the plan. Was this Biden's idea of rebuilding America's global position and relationships with our allies after the 4 supposedly disastrous years of Trump?

I'm now listening to some talking heads discuss how this will affect Biden in '22 and '24. Probably not much at all. Largely because too many America voters are easily distracted children, and by then the Santa Claus Democrats will be proposing printing another 14-digits worth of dollars for more "free" stuff to buy them off and make them forget.

If there's any upside to this, we'll now get another example of what life is like in a land totally devoid of freedom and American ideals. You know, the kinda ideals that leftists here think are so awful and makes America the worst place to live.

American Cowboy said...

When I saw dementia joe and that hag he is married to I desperately wanted to pull an Elvis, and shoot the damned T.V.

Sortahwitte said...

Wel, I have calmed down enough to make sense with a paragraph or two. I served in the USMC, so it hit me hard when those guys and the others were murdered by incompetent leadership. I have thought many times of our Navy corpsman. He was with us and he was us. We loved him and protected our Doc to the best of our ability. It's obvious their Doc and his guys were in the same place. I'm 73 now and I cry a lot easier than I use to. With tears in my eyes, I toast those brave boys of my youth. I also raise a glass of Cutty to those that serve and die today.

Fish Out of Water said...

@John: Your post seems unsettlingly blase about this country's future. Are we to expect a succession of Nero/Commodus-like 'presidents' from her on out? (Come to think of it, we may have gotten a start with Slick Willie)

Anonymous said...

@Fish Out of Water, more resigned than blase. I had just assumed that what has transpired over the last few years would have taken another 10 or 20 years instead of 10 or 20 months.

And it did largely shift gears with Slick Willie, the first "boomer" President that took America on it's first "vacation from history" in the wake of Reagan's success in finishing Soviet Communism.

Colby Muenster said...

I think we can all guess pretty closely on exactly who the "string pullers" are, and what their goals are, but how effing chilling is it that they are willing to let possibly thousands (millions?) die to achieve their goals? Shades of Mao and Pol Pot.

Joe is going to get 25th'd and I don't think "they" will wait much longer. Then, who does Harris pick for VP? I can think of several possibilities, and they all disgust and scare the crap out of me.

This whole thing is horribly sad and frightening!

Dan said...

@Colby -- The more I think of it, I'm leaning toward Biden "dying of natural causes" or being "assassinated" by some alleged deplorable who, conveniently, won't be caught alive (scare quotes intentional) and will have a proper legend as an unhinged Trump follower. Those two things will provide for Joe's deification as well as providing cover for the mid-terms.

John the Econ said...

Watched Biden's presser this afternoon. Basically, he threw almost everyone under the bus. He did praise his intelligence agencies. You know, the ones that told everyone that Kabul had 70-to-90 days instead of 70-to-90 minutes before the Taliban would move in. So according to what Biden said this afternoon, if you got stuck in Afghanistan after yesterday, you're a loser who should have known better even though just weeks ago Biden was telling you that everything was fine.

Certainly contrary to the tune he was singing back in July.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@John the Econ- I couldn't watch Biden's whole speech. The baldfaced lies never ended. Every freaking day the world feels less like "reality" to me.

John the Econ said...

@Stilton, Biden is supposed to be a foreign policy wonk. And yet can anyone point out anything he's been right about over a half-century in government? The sad thing is that he probably doesn't even realize that he's lying.

JustaJeepGuy said...

@John the Econ, Has the Groper EVER realized he's lying about ANYTHING? I wonder if he actually believes he was elected legitimately. The bum never drew even 40 people to any rally for him all last year, yet he got 81 million votes? Yeah, right.

Michael Riles said...

Then: Age of Anxiety – WH Auden poem
Now:Age of Anxiety – LOTS of earthlings lately

Then: This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius
Now: This is the dawning of the age of anxiety.

To the tune The Age of Aquarius

Holy crap
the year of many frowns
the Towers came down.

Then 2008 came.
for all
was so insane

That was the dawning of the age of
Age of Anxiety

We're still fighting a world pandemic
as we helped a nation that refused to fight.
Tribal hatreds reigned supreme
it was LIBS and RINO's wet dream
Main Street Mesopotamia
a dumb ass scheme
got royally reamed.