Did Recalcitrant Military Leaders Set the Afghanistan Debacle Into Motion?

A little while ago, my colleague Nickarama posted a story that is well worth reading. It is titled Biden's Afghanistan Debacle May Have Been Intentional. The point is that Biden had decided to leave Afghanistan rapidly and had early in his term as vice president to Barack Hussein Obama expressed his opinion that we had no obligation to the Afghans. Here is the key section via Politico:

t wasn't a new position. While Biden championed nation-building in Afghanistan in the early years of the war, he had turned against it long ago, as George Packer reported in The Atlantic earlier this year:

“By the time Biden became vice president in 2009, the disastrous war in Iraq, the endemic corruption of the Afghan government, and the return of the Taliban had made him a deep skeptic of the American commitment. He became the Obama administration's strongest voice for getting out of Afghanistan. In 2010, he told RICHARD HOLBROOKE, Obama's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, that the U.S. had to leave Afghanistan regardless of the consequences for women or anyone else. According to Holbrooke's diary, when he asked about American obligations to Afghans like the girl in the Kabul school, Biden replied with a history lesson from the final U.S. withdrawal from Southeast Asia in 1973: ‘Fuck that, we don't have to worry about that. We did it in Vietnam, Nixon and Kissinger got away with it.'”

To do this, Biden ignored the advice he received from the Defense Department and State Department. What makes this plausible is the fact that Joe Biden has not spoken to any world leaders since this final phase of the Afghan debacle began.

He's arrogant without any reason for being so. It would not be out of character for him to have done this deliberately and counting on his good friends in the media to blame President Trump for the mess.

Let me offer an alternative hypothesis on this same theme.

In my post Up to 10,000 Americans Remain Trapped in Afghanistan as We Face a Second Iran Hostage Crisis, I note how nothing was done to prepare to evacuate noncombatants from Kabul and how, even at this late date, there are possibly 10,000 Americans trapped there. In fact, there could be 40,000 if this story is true Number of Americans Trapped in Afghanistan May Be Even Worse Than the Biden Team Is Telling Us. How can that be? The Afghan government started disintegrating a month or more ago. The intelligence community has been forecasting that the Taliban would emerge victorious within 90 days. And yet, nothing has been done to evacuate Americans or process eligible Afghans for refugee visas.

Apparently, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley had successfully sold President Trump on keeping a residual force in Kabul and believed he could sweet-talk Biden into doing the same. But, at the same time, the Pentagon did nothing to plan or prepare for the withdrawal to try to forestall the event.

Having worked directly for one of the three-stars on the Army Staff, I can tell you this resonates with me. The standard Pentagon response, at least on the Army side, to any task you don't want to do is to nod vigorously while doing absolutely nothing. I was an Army Staff action officer during the post-Desert Storm drawdown and a Reduction in Force (RIF) of field grade officers, the first since the end of the Vietnam War, was looming we were directed to not plan for a RIF because if anyone heard we were planning for a RIF, they would assume a RIF was acceptable to the Army and if we didn't plan we might not have to do one because magic and stuff. As a result, what could've been a controlled and orderly process devolved into a stupid panic. Does any of this sound familiar?

To me, this all sounds like the military leadership (can we start putting Lloyd Austin's face on milk cartons yet, because he hasn't been seen for a week) convinced itself that it had persuaded Biden to slow down the withdrawal and adhere to their recommendations. They might have convinced themselves that they had convinced Biden to cancel the Afghan withdrawal completely just as he had with most of President Trump's initiatives. Then, unexpectedly, Biden decided that he was plowing ahead, and yes, his callous disregard for human life played into that decision and pulled the trigger on the withdrawal. The military and State were left flat-footed because they'd refused to take any preliminary steps needed to evacuate noncombatants and friendly Afghans.

A less charitable would be the flip side of the theory posited by Nick Arama. When the military didn't get its way, it said screw it, let's make him eat it, and let this disaster cascade as a way of teaching a valuable life lesson to Biden about how the bureaucracy really works when you aren't just a blowhard senator from a piss-ant state.

I don't know that Biden wanted what is happening in Afghanistan, but I think he got what he asked for.

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