By John Kass
Afghanistan has long been the graveyard of empires. And now it’s the resting place of another American fantasy, propagated by the partisan corporate American media as a potent political myth:
That President Joe Biden is competent.
That fantasy shattered like the bodies and bones of those Afghans terrified of the Taliban, who desperately grabbed onto the side of that C-17 cargo plane leaving Kabul.
They fell out of the sky.
For 20 years now, the American people and our brave Armed Forces there have been lied to by countless wretched and cynical bi-partisan tongues about Afghanistan. The Republican Bush White House should never have tried to build a nation in that tribal, feudal and medieval land. Bush owns this, too. We should have left long ago.
But the bi-partisan regime in Washington became addicted to spending money and American (and Afghan) lives. And Biden was all in on nation building in Afghanistan before he was against it.
There was always going to be panic when we left. But Biden fecklessly jump-started the panic there, in his botched withdrawal, leaving thousands of Americans and Afghans who we promised to protect.
Biden decided to close Bagram Airfield in the middle of the night, shutting off electric power and pulling American forces without telling Afghan commanders. This helped set off a wave of panic among Afghan forces. Tens of thousands of them have been killed in fighting the Taliban, but without American air support, and other American support, they broke and ran.
The Roman historian Tacitus offers us a political rule about success having many fathers, but failure having none.
“This is an unfair thing about war.” he said, “Victory is claimed by all, failure to one alone.”
Afghan policy would have remained an orphan for a time, with American politicians and their media champions pointing partisan fingers about who owns the disaster. But Biden claimed this orphan as his own child. It was Biden who gave it his name.
On July 8, the president assured the world there would be no repeat of those nightmarish scenes from Vietnam in 1975—more than two years after Biden was elected to the U.S. Senate—of American helicopters leaving the roof of the American embassy, leaving our South Vietnamese allies behind.
“There’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy in the — of the United States from Afghanistan. It is not at all comparable,” said Biden.
A short time earlier, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that it wouldn’t happen over the space of three days.
“Whatever happens in Afghanistan, if there is a significant deterioration in security—that could well happen, we’ve discussed this before—I don’t think it’s going to happen from a Friday to a Monday.”
But that’s exactly what happened.
J.D. Vance, author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” now a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Ohio, argues for regime change, not in Afghanistan, but in the United States.
Writing in “The Federalist” Vance argued that many on both sides of the partisan divide aren’t fit to lead.
“We lost our best and brightest in those mountains—men and women who would have started families, built businesses, and sustained communities.
“My heart breaks that these dead may have died in vain. But they won’t if we learn the long-term lesson of Afghanistan: the people who lead this country aren’t fit for the task.
“…. But this is not merely the consequence of seven months of disastrous Biden policy, it is the failure of the entire American regime. Every major institution in our country revealed itself as a farce.”
The generals did lie about Afghanistan. Politicians of both parties lied. They spent the money, they sought to protect their power and influence and wanted no accountability for themselves. as they defiled the graves of our dead and Afghan dead. Vance is absolutely correct. Afghanistan is the failure of the American regime. The brass, the bureaucrats and the political actors lied to us year after year.
After the terrorist attacks on our country on Sept. 11, 2001, when the best of Americans volunteered to risk their lives for their nation, Republican neoconservatives grabbed onto former President George W. Bush. They convinced him of the fantasy that we could plant the seeds of Jeffersonian democracy there. They also tried their same theories in Iraq. They’re desperate to retain influence in the face of this failure.
The arrogance of American policy makers is astounding, whether under Democratic or Republican administrations. They fly rainbow flags on our embassies and they tell tribal fundamentalists how to reorder their cultures to our domestic political tastes. No wonder they hate us. We are fools and predatory nations laugh at us.
When the Afghan government fled and chaos swept that country, and the Taliban reportedly began knocking on doors, leaving messages for collaborators, President Biden went into hiding at Camp David.
Later, the president finally emerged to make a speech and defend himself. He went on a rant, blaming the Afghan people, former President Donald Trump and his other predecessors. He didn’t blame the Taliban or Joe Biden.
His media spinners scooped up his self-serving talking points and greedily devoured them, before feeding the remains to the American people. But it didn’t work.
MSNBC’s Brian Williams, whom I’ve called Commander McBragg for his fibs that cost him the NBC News anchor’s chair, brayed like a partisan, applauding Biden for “as he put it, the buck stops with him.”
But his guest, Matt Zeller, an American veteran of Afghanistan, shot that down.
“I hope he [Biden] gets to own their deaths, too,” Zeller said. “I feel I watched a different speech than the rest of you guys. I was appalled. There was such a profound bold-faced lie in that speech, the idea that we planned for every contingency?
“…They didn’t plan for the evacuation of our Afghan war-time allies…They [the Biden White House] got exactly what they were most concerned of, by failing to do what was right when they could have done it. We had all of the people and equipment in place to be able to save these people and we did nothing.”
A friend of mine, a former US Air Force pilot with tours in Iraq, sees all this ending badly. Who doesn’t? The last plane out, the Taliban making a violent statement upon those whom we promised to protect, if they’d help us.
And there are those in my business, like Brian Williams, with a desperate need to protect the doddering old man in the White House.
If you scraped your life savings together, and decided to open a small business, would you hire Joe Biden to run it?
No. You wouldn’t hire him to run a hot dog stand.
But America hired him to be president, because, we were told, he was competent.
(Copyright 2021 John Kass)