Kabul Will Soon Become Joe Biden’s Saigon
Kabul Will Soon Become Joe Biden’s Saigon
Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan, will shortly fall to the Taliban. Maybe it will happen this weekend. Or maybe it will take a little longer. But unless a meteor strikes the invading Taliban army, the fate of Kabul is sealed.
On Friday, the Taliban took over three major Afghan cities: Herat; Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province; and Kandahar, the second-largest city in Afghanistan. At the time of this writing, only three major cities remain in the hands of the government. Those include Jalalabad, Mazar-i-Sharif, and the crown jewel, Kabul, the capital.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s president, Ashraf Ghani, still clings to power, while many of his political allies have fled. He’s spoken with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin — for whatever good that is. He was supposed to have held a secretary meeting at his palace in Kabul on Friday.
One of Ghani’s former advisers says that he refuses to see reality:
“He’s refusing to admit the reality. The news is relayed to him through a filter.”
“Trusted lieutenants surrendered just this morning. . . . He’s at risk from his own bodyguards. This is how it happens in Afghanistan. The last days of any leader are like this.”
On top of that, the Taliban captured Imail Khan, “The Lion of Herat,” a 70-something Afghan warlord. Khan took part in the futile defense of Herat about a month ago, but that city fell and is now a ghost town. The Taliban now claims that Khan has joined their forces, but this being Afghanistan, who knows?
So what is Joe Biden doing this weekend? At the White House, monitoring the withdrawal from Afghanistan, which he still supports?
Nope. He’s off to Camp David until next Wednesday. But don’t worry, say White House officials, Biden received briefings on “the ongoing efforts to safely drawdown the civilian footprint in Afghanistan.” He’ll also get more briefings during his stay at Camp David. As if he’d remember any of them, but that’s another story.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon announced that 3000 troops will arrive in Kabul this weekend. But they won’t launch any attacks against the Taliban. Instead, they’ll help evacuate American civilians. They’ll also help to relocate Afghans who had worked with the US military, as well as thousands of others possibly going to Qatar.
But while US troops won’t fight the Taliban, Biden administration officials encouraged Afghan security forces to defend Kabul. On Friday, Defense Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters:
“We will do what we can from the air, but they have the advantage. They have greater numbers. . . . an air force. . . . modern weaponry. It’s time now to use those advantages.”
Like that’s going to happen.
Also on Friday, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the Taliban to immediately halt their offensive. Right.
Finally, the US Embassy in Kabul sent out this tweet, perhaps to appeal to the better angels amongst the Taliban. If they had read this, the Taliban would’ve collapsed laughing.
Dear Taliban please stop murdering people SEND TWEET pic.twitter.com/lIz9hoGJMf
— Ian Miles Cheong @ stillgray.substack.com (@stillgray) August 14, 2021
But to many Americans, especially those of us of a certain age, the evacuation of Kabul reminds us of another shameful event in our history.
The fall of Saigon in April, 1975.
But Joe Biden doesn’t see it that way. In fact, last month he pooh-poohed the idea that the Taliban was anything like the North Vietnamese Army:
“The Taliban is not the North Vietnamese Army. They’re not remotely comparable in terms of capability.”
Uh-huh. And while Baghdad Joe left for vacay at Camp David, the Taliban advanced to about 30 miles outside Kabul.
It’s worth pointing out that Americans are fed up with the long war in Afghanistan. After all, it’s gone on for 20 years now. At first the idea was revenge for 9/11 — rout out the Taliban which harbored Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. But then it turned into President George Bush’s attempt to democratize Afghanistan, which, while noble, was futile. The nation is tribal, and its people care little for democratic government. So by the time candidate Donald Trump arrived on the scene in 2015, he promised to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan.
However, even though President Trump wanted to pull out all 4500 American troops by Christmas, 2020, his military and security aides advised against it. Trump then agreed to withdraw 2500 troops. There would be enough remaining troops to carry out counterterrorism strikes and work as advisers to the Afghan military — so the thought went.
But now Joe Biden is pulling out all the American forces, and the Taliban is moving in faster than anyone expected. And the comparisons to the fall of Saigon have begun.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said in a statement on Thursday:
“President Biden’s decisions have us hurtling toward an even worse sequel to the humiliating fall of Saigon in 1975.”
While Dov S. Zakheim, senior adviser for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, writes that the fall of Kabul may be even more dire than the fall of Saigon:
“Vietnam did not serve as a base for attacks on the United States. The same cannot be assumed of the Taliban and Afghanistan.”
Moreover, Vietnam has since become a trading partner with the United States. It’s even become a tourist destination (my brother visited Vietnam ten years ago). But Afghanistan will not become either of those. The only thing it will export is Islamic terrorism to the West, and to the United States in particular.
So by the time you read this, Kabul might be in the hands of the Taliban — in fact, reports are emerging that they’re now at the gates of the city. But keeping a minimum number of troops in Afghanistan — as the Trump administration had planned — would’ve been a far safer solution to the Afghanistan problem than the humiliating abandonment of that country to dangerous religious zealots who hate us.