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The deep grief on President Biden’s face as his eyes swelled with tears was painful to watch. But his personal suffering cannot exonerate him from the responsibility for what happened in Kabul.
Nor can his obscenely shameful effort to shift the blame to former President Donald Trump and even his own military commanders be taken seriously. Biden says the buck stops with him, but he doesn’t really mean it.
When the enemy strikes with deadly results, it’s somebody else’s fault. That’s not leadership and it certainly isn’t presidential.
If he truly accepted responsibility, Biden would own up to the obvious fact that his actions played a big role in this horrific outcome. Instead, his claim that every commander agreed with him on the withdrawal plan is a bald-faced lie.
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We know for certain the military argued against his hasty exit. Officers gave him alternatives and he said no because, for 50 years, Joe Biden has always known best.
Yet when things go off the rails, he dares to hide behind the generals.
That’s politics, that’s Washington. It’s not the mark of a trustworthy commander-in-chief.
The worst day for our troops in Afghanistan in a decade will never be forgotten by those Gold Star families who received that dreaded knock on the door from someone in uniform. But it is also a terrible stain on America that our brave men and women were put in such a vulnerable situation.
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They risked their lives in a heroic effort to save the terrified civilians of many nations. They have been succeeding in large measure, but have now paid an unacceptable and unnecessary price.
The shock isn’t just that there was a successful terror attack against America during our last stand at the chaotic, overrun Kabul airport. The shock is that it didn’t come sooner and claim even more lives.
The president’s pain, which always seems to be attached to the loss of son Beau Biden from cancer, does not change the fact his arguments for his position remain what they have been all along — unpersuasive, dishonest and foolhardy.
He set the terms of the withdrawal, including the abrupt abandonment of the Bagram Air Base, and approved the security-sharing arrangement with the Taliban, a terrorist organization. He proudly cites those decisions, but those and others carry the unmistakable stench of weakness. When tens of thousands of people converged on the airport, the chaos was an invitation for murder and mayhem.
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The strongest military in the history of the world was a sitting duck, with our warfighters reduced to playing defense in an impossible situation.
Biden’s original sin was his determined rush to get out of Afghanistan on a fixed timetable. Risk-averse to a fault, he made the avoidance of more casualties his chief measure of success.
That fearful approach was dangerous, just as weakness always invites aggression. And now his fixation on avoiding casualties has led to carnage.
In his late-afternoon remarks, the president struck the right tone with his vow to get those responsible, but he still seems determined to be completely out of Afghanistan by next Tuesday, with the help and cooperation of the Taliban. The very concept is riddled with contradictions, as when he says often the Taliban’s “self-interest” leads him to count on them even as he doesn’t trust them.
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Despite his tough talk, Biden’s deadline certainly makes it harder to hunt down those who planned the attacks. The deadline also makes it almost impossible to evacuate the remaining American citizens and our Afghan allies clamoring to get out and away from the Taliban.
Indeed, the Taliban have already restricted Afghans from going to the airport and the tightened security that is inevitable there likely will reduce the number of people lucky enough to make it through the gates.
Even before the attacks, there were reports that a sharp decline in evacuation flights for civilians would be necessary as early as Friday so the 5,500 Marines and soldiers and their equipment could start to be lifted out.
So America is taking its dead and wounded and leaving in the immediate aftermath of a slaughter. This is not an honorable exit.
It’s a surrender, and a defeat disguised as success.
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Meanwhile, terrorists everywhere will celebrate, and the 20th anniversary of 9/11 will be the greatest recruitment tool ever for their twisted cause.
Never forget that it happened on Joe Biden’s watch.
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