It’s amazing how quickly and how thoroughly Joe Biden’s Afghan withdrawal debacle has disappeared down the memory hole. It’s equally amazing how our incurious media missed so much of the story at the time.
Even now, as facts continue to dribble out about just how much Biden bollixed up the withdrawal, we are beginning to see the brazen lies and falsifications told by the president. He was covering up what we now know American intelligence thought would happen when the U.S. pulled out after 20 years in Afghanistan.
The Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, John Sopko, submitted his report in January of 2021. It was classified, which wasn’t unusual. What was unusual, says the IG office, is that it took a year to release a declassified version of the report.
The inspector general’s office told The Associated Press on Monday that it is rare for SIGAR reports to be classified but when they are, a declassified version is issued by the Pentagon in under two months. The office said it did not know why it took the Defense Department more than a year before declassifying this particular report, or why it did so now, five months after the Taliban took power.
That report went into great detail about the sorry state of the Afghanistan air force and how it was wholly dependent on the U.S. military and private contractors to keep the planes flying.
The significance of this is that during the entire 20-year conflict, the Afghan army leaned heavily on the air force — an air force largely maintained by U.S. military technicians and American private contractors. When they left during the Taliban’s final offensive, the Afghanistan air force collapsed, followed quickly by their ground defenses.
But at the same time this was happening, Joe Biden was telling the nation that the Afghan army was not South Vietnam.
And Biden infamously guaranteed that, “The Taliban is not the South — the North Vietnamese army. They’re not — they’re not remotely comparable in terms of capability. There’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of a embassy in the — of the United States from Afghanistan. It is not at all comparable.”
We knew Biden’s assurances meant nothing. What we now know is that he had been warned by the intelligence community, and in an effort to delay and defer the blame, this special-inspector-general’s report was kept under wraps.
In the immortal words of the Wicked Witch of the West, “These things must be handled delicately.” Biden needed to wait for an opportune political moment — or a time when the political damage would be blunted — before revealing his spectacular failure to the American people.
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Jazz Shaw at Hot Air offers some thoughts on why this is still important a year after the fact.
But many of his supporters still seem to cling to the idea that it was “an honest mistake” and an intelligence failure or whatever. This report deflates such ideas entirely. An office that was positioned to know better warned the Pentagon that a disaster was on the way eight months before the collapse took place. And Joe Biden moved ahead with the plan anyway. As many of us had already suspected, the decision to evacuate from Afghanistan was a political one, not a military one. Biden had promised to end the war in Afghanistan and he didn’t want to be seen as failing to live up to that political talking point. And we continue to pay a heavy price for that completely avoidable blunder.
“Avoidable blunder” it may have been, but on the scoresheet, it comes out as “Biden lied and people died.” That’s the bottom line, and a less cynical and partisan media might have recognized that and responded with the same outrage it would have shown if a Republican had done it.
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