Obama was right after all
As a conservative bordering on a libertarian, I hate to admit it President Obama was right about anything, but the fact is that he was right when, in 2020, he voiced his concerns about Joe Biden's presidential candidacy and warned allies not to underestimate Biden's ability to "f--- things up." Yes, President Obama, even though I vehemently disagreed with your politics, as a judge of character, you were spot on. We should have listened.
If anything, the two days of congressional hearings by the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs have proven that there is either extreme cognitive dissonance between our nation's most senior military leadership and the Executive Branch or one or the other is misrepresenting the facts.
As we know, President Biden, in a recent television interview, when asked about military advice to keep 2,500 troops in Afghanistan, insisted, "No one said that to me that I can recall." Yet during this week's testimony, both the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the commander of U.S. Central Command stated that at least 2,500 troops were required to guard against a rapid collapse of the Kabul government and a return to a cruel Taliban rule.
I suspect that somewhere in between lies the truth, but, ultimately, the commander-in-chief bears the responsibility for our "strategic failure" in Afghanistan. He alone should be held accountable.
Not only have we lost face among some of our closest allies, such as Great Britain, but we have also essentially returned Afghanistan into a staging base for further, and perhaps more sophisticated, terrorist attacks on our homeland. The Taliban are stronger now than they were pre-9/11 thanks to our leaving behind millions of dollars of state-of-the-art technology and weaponry that will ultimately be used against us.
As a member of the armed forces for over thirty years, I can assure you that the administration's strategy of conducting "over the horizon" counter-terrorism strikes is doomed to failure. We saw the results of such a strategy gone bad when we incorrectly targeted a car loaded with children, believing that it had members of ISIS-K. Let's not kid ourselves about our capabilities to do targeted anti-terrorism strikes: Afghanistan is a landlocked country where overflight rights must be obtained first by her neighbors in order to launch airstrikes or reinsert boots on the ground.
Under Obama, in a similar strategic situation, then–vice president Biden advocated our early withdrawal from Iraq, a move that gave rise to the ISIS caliphate and the needless expenditure of human life and capital. Do I see a pattern here? In both instances, the date of our withdrawal was clearly "telegraphed" to our respective adversary which goes against the grain of all principles of war.
A safe, timely non-combatant evacuation or NEO of American Citizens in-country could have been conducted. This is one of the primary missions of the 82nd Airborne Division and our afloat Marine Expeditionary Units (MEUs). Evidently, though, the State Department did not want to raise undue concern.
Yes, President Obama, though I doubted you while in office, we should have listened to you. In the past few weeks, we have witnessed a preventable debacle in which we squandered the lives of young American service members and set the stage for our eventual return to right a bad yet preventable wrong. I suspect your advice will continue to be prescient. Perhaps we should now take heed and do what we can to insulate ourselves from Joe's ability to "f--- things up."
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