Opinion

The bloodlust of Joe Biden's Afghanistan critics

They have no solution but to get more American troops killed

There was a tragic suicide bombing at the Kabul airport on Thursday. At time of writing 169 people were confirmed killed, including 13 American soldiers.

This caused an instant frenzy of denunciation on cable news and from Republican neoconservatives. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) demanded that Biden resign immediately, as did Meghan McCain. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) demanded Biden reverse course. "For every American who is killed, a city in Afghanistan should be wiped off the face of the Earth," tweeted conservative pundit Todd Starnes. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Rep. Mike Waltz (R-Fl.) released a joint statement demanding Biden recognize the former Afghan vice president and intelligence chief as the legitimate government of the country.

Yet these blood-crazed critics have no arguments or even suggestions that do not involve getting more American soldiers killed, except genocidal slaughter of Afghan civilians. President Biden is right to stay the course.

It is not yet completely clear who committed the attack, but initial reports finger a local ISIS offshoot, with the likely objective of re-starting the conflict between the Taliban and the U.S. In an interesting coincidence, that's apparently the exact same objective of Graham, Starnes, and the rest of the hardliners screaming at Biden. (By the way, it is worth pointing out that the Taliban is bitterly opposed to ISIS, and indeed in the past has received temporary support in their fight with the group from none other than the U.S. military.)

To re-state what is still completely undeniable, we just finished 20 years of occupation that categorically failed to create a viable Afghan government. That government is now gone. There is an agreement with the Taliban to get out at the end of the month, signed by President Trump and adhered to by Biden.

To renege on that agreement — by sending in more troops, or re-taking the Bagram air base, as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy suggested — would not only require putting more forces in to re-start the war, it would expose the troops there now protecting the evacuation to immediate attack on all sides, and possibly even cut them off from reinforcement, given how easy it is to prevent flights into the Kabul airport. Indeed, as members of the U.S. government, Graham and Walz's demand exposes American soldiers to a nontrivial risk that the Taliban will take it as a statement of policy and open fire. And then what?

Not a single one of these cretins has even bothered to outline a medium-term plan.

The simple fact is the Kabul evacuation can't help but be a dangerous business, and some attack or another was always a risk. Indeed, this is the first sacrifice of American soldiers in years that can be said to have actually accomplished anything worthwhile in Afghanistan. Over 2,400 of them died over the last 20 years in a war any fool could see was impossible to win by 2003 at the latest. Their lives were squandered — along with those of perhaps a quarter-million civilians — by three presidents who were too stupid or cowardly to look reality in the face, cut our losses, and get out of there.

These troops, by contrast, gave their lives protecting an evacuation that — while flawed in many ways — actually has done a great deal of good. Over 100,000 people have indeed been airlifted out at time of writing, and mass evacuations are still ongoing. Given the chaos of the initial collapse of Kabul, and the tense relationship with the Taliban, it's a pretty remarkable accomplishment.

These armchair generals don't care about any of that. They don't care about working out a viable plan to do anything in particular, or defending any conception of American interests, or respecting the sacrifice of Our Troops. They want to leverage the shock, horror, and pain of American soldiers getting killed to whip up a good old war frenzy, just like they did after 9/11, and get hundreds or thousands more troops injured and killed in the process of yet another madcap imperialist crusade. The American military is a plaything for these people in their crusade to seize domestic power by driving the citizenry into a frothing desire for vengeance.

No doubt the Kabul evacuation could have been planned and executed better. But that is water under the bridge. President Biden continuing to hold stubbornly to what is very obviously the only realistic course of action, despite a mindless frenzy of condemnation from the media and the GOP, and little support from his own party, is the strongest act of political courage I have seen from a president in my life.

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