Three weeks ago, we all watched in shock as the most powerful military the world has ever known completed a frenzied and humiliating retreat from Afghanistan.
Despite repeated attempts by the Biden administration to portray the withdrawal as an "extraordinary success," the facts point to a much different story. This has been an unmitigated series of costly failures accompanied by dishonesty, deceit and deception at the highest levels of the United States government.
Apart from the loss of 13 service members, and the loss of hundreds of other innocent lives, the greatest cost has been the loss of the trust and confidence of the American people. Here is a quick look at what we know today.
Abandoning Bagram Air Base and the decision to relinquish the security of Kabul to the Taliban, cost the lives of US service members. It was the close proximity of U.S. forces to the Abbey gate that led to many of the casualties. U.S. Central Command’s commanding general, Kenneth McKenzie told the American people that the U.S. and Taliban shared a "common goal" but the attackers successfully penetrated the Taliban’s so-called "security perimeter" with enough explosives and small arms to take the lives of 13 well-equipped service members and to seriously wound 15 more.
As of Sept. 15, seven of 15 wounded Marines remained at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. At least two were in critical but stable condition and five were listed as serious but stable. In respect of their privacy, their identities and the extent of their injuries have not been released.
The promise to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan until the last Americans were out was broken. On Aug. 31, President Biden stated that "90% of Americans in Afghanistan who wanted to leave were able to leave." The Biden administration has failed to provide an accurate accounting of those left behind but Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has repeatedly stated that there are approximately 100 to 200 U.S. citizens still there. Independent estimates are much higher.
Biden’s denial that his top advisers warned against a complete U.S. military withdrawal is not accurate. There are numerous accounts that top advisers in the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community advised President Biden to keep a contingent of about 2,500 troops on the ground. This includes advice from Gen. Scott Miller, the senior commander on the ground in Afghanistan.
President Biden told the American people that "over-the-horizon" strikes would allow the U.S. to "strike terrorists and targets without American boots on the ground." This has been proven to be demonstratively untrue. In two separate over-the-horizon strikes during the final days in Afghanistan, unmanned drones launched from a site eight hours away.
The first strike in Nangahar Province was said to have eliminated at least two ISIS-K terrorist "planners" but little is known about that strike, including the identities of the targets. As to the second one, in a press conference carefully timed to occur on a Friday, the Pentagon admitted that what Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley had previously declared a "righteous strike" had actually killed 10 innocent people, including seven young children.
The American people have been misled regarding the reaction of our allies. In his opening statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Sept. 14, Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that he had been in "constant contact" with U.S. allies and partners; and that NATO had "immediately and unanimously embraced it [the withdrawal]."
The American people must not fall victim to deception, deflection and dishonesty.
In fact, the British Parliament condemned President Biden for what they called "failure and neglect of moral duty." The French foreign minister recently announced that the Taliban are lying and that France will not have any relationship with their newly formed Islamic government. On Friday, France recalled its ambassador to the US, an issue that was unrelated to Afghanistan, but directly related to a loss of trust and confidence in the Biden administration. And on Monday, Thierry Breton, a commissioner for the 27-nation European Union (EU), stated that "Trust between the EU and the U.S. has been eroded."
The Biden administration made public commitments to help Afghan allies who had helped the U.S. during the war, but the Department of State actually blocked support. As multiple private citizen and U.S. veteran groups were trying to help evacuate people whom U.S. veterans could personally vouch for, the State Department ordered at least one U.S. embassy "not to help in any way." Multiple sources said the State Department was responsible for "all types of pushback" but when some efforts were successful, the State Department quickly inserted itself and claimed credit. According to U.S. Congressmen Markwayne Mullin and Ronny Jackson, this was "absolutely a lie."
The administration’s "ridged vetting process" of Afghan evacuees is failing. Approximately 120,000 non-U.S. citizens were evacuated aboard U.S. military aircraft. The U.S. government has declined to say how many evacuees have arrived in the United States or to comment on their immigration status, but some reports state that the U.S. is currently housing over 30,000 evacuees in five states with another 40,000 overseas.
At least one previously convicted rapist has already been identified among the evacuees and on Sept. 22 a federal jury in Wisconsin indicted two evacuees on crimes including spousal abuse and forced sex with minors. This is amid growing concerns that during the chaotic departure, human traffickers and other criminals pushed their way onto flights with false claims. The vetting process cannot happen quickly and is likely doomed to fail, especially given the lack of any diplomatic presence in Afghanistan. Some evacuees have already walked out of military bases inside the U.S. where they were being housed.
The claim that $84 million of left-behind weapons and military equipment does not represent a strategic threat to the U.S. or our allies is false. On Sept. 11, 2001, 19 terrorists armed with little more than boxcutters and pepper spray killed almost 3,000 innocent people inside the U,.S. homeland. Those attacks originated out of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
Now, some of the same key personalities are back in control. They now have hundreds of thousands of modern weapons, sophisticated night vision equipment, mine resistant vehicles, and an impressively large fleet of aircraft. To believe that the Taliban is now "business-like," that they hate us less, that they have become more tolerant, or that they will not use these weapons against U.S. interests, is worse than naïve, it is criminally irresponsible.
The Biden administration is proposing $64 million more in aid to Afghanistan that will most certainly go directly into the hands of terrorists. It is absolutely impossible to give aid to anyone in Afghanistan without it going into the hands of the Taliban. They are in complete control.
Three weeks after this disastrous withdrawal, it is clear that the American people have not felt the full impact of its failures. With one crisis coming after the other in rapid fashion – the border, out-of-control spending, inflation, COVID, etc. – it’s challenging to pay attention to everything.
But the American people must not fall victim to deception, deflection and dishonesty. We must demand answers and hold our leaders accountable.