Joe Biden emerged from his cave, saw his shadow, and told us there will be three more years of winter.
That winter, descending on America’s position in the world, was on public view at Biden’s Friday press conference about Afghanistan.
Standing behind him was the Vice President, the secretary of defense, the secretary of state and the national security adviser, a stark contrast to the sad photo of Biden alone on a video call from Camp David with those advisers. Why have them stand there, mute? To convey to the public that the administration was united…and to convey to his advisers that they were all on this sinking ship together.
They will respond privately by calling their media contacts and saying, ‘Do not say this came from me, but this disaster was all the President’s fault. It was his decision. I told him not to do it.’
As for the press conference itself, it was a tissue of, let’s put this delicately, demonstrable falsehoods.
He said there is no al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. That’s wrong.
He said al-Qaeda and the Taliban are enemies. That’s wrong.
He said almost no one thought the Afghan army would fall apart this quickly. That’s wrong.
He said our Nato allies agreed that his decision to withdraw was wise and that they agreed with it. That’s wrong. In fact, our most important allies have taken the rare step of publicly blaming Biden.
He said we won’t have trouble knowing about any terrorist formation in Afghanistan because we have ‘over the horizon’ capabilities. That’s mostly wrong. We need resources on the ground to know that, and we don’t have those resources anymore. We pulled our people out and abandoned those who worked with us.
He said the only reason American soldiers had been safe is because the Taliban abided by their agreement with Trump about safe withdrawal. That’s possible but unlikely. The better reason is that they were not engaged in door-to-door combat. They were giving local forces intelligence support and air cover. Missing that backbone, the Afghan forces fell apart.
How bad was Biden’s misinformation to the American public? Dreadful. The best assessment comes from Jennifer Griffin, a very experienced Pentagon reporter who spent years in Afghanistan. She said couldn’t fact-check the misstatements fast enough in real time. There were just so many falsehoods. She’s a thorough-going professional, but you could see her genuine anger burning through as she said that.
How bad is the mess? So bad and so obvious that even the mainstream media was asking Biden tough questions. The question now is whether they will follow up and report on the deceptions, as well as the incompetence and bad judgment.
Yesterday, Juan Williams said the American people will soon forget this failure in Afghanistan. Not very likely. That’s not because they wanted to stay there. It is because they are forming the indelible impression that this president is incompetent, a bottomless cup of bad ideas. As for the horrific images coming out of Kabul, a friend rendered a much more profound judgment. ‘People cannot unsee images.’