The Afghanistan Debacle: When Did the U.S. Become So Incompetent?

Those of us who are old enough to be Medicare-eligible grew up believing that the country was invincible.  After all, we were the country that accomplished impossible feats like storming the beach at Normandy and succeeding in defeating the Nazis.  We were the country that avenged the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor by crushing the Japanese army in the Pacific.  We were the country that built an industrial war machine at home and the same country that built the most successful economy in the world post-WWII.  We sent men to the moon and returned them safely to earth.  We had the best technology and the best universities.  We were the envy of the world. 

Yikes, what has changed?  If our withdrawal from Afghanistan is a fair indication, we have become not invincible but incompetent.  Whether we should have been in Afghanistan in the first place is a different question, but since we were there, one would have expected us to do a better job of withdrawal.  Instead, we pre-announced the date of withdrawal to give the enemy a heads up.  We picked a date when the Taliban fighters are in full summer attack mode, rather than in the winter when they are huddled around campfires in caves.

As the withdrawal date approached the Taliban advanced so fast that our President had to suffer the indignity of asking the Taliban leader for permission to evacuate the U.S. embassy in Kabul before it was overrun.  Our military left in such a hurry that the main air base was evacuated in the middle of the night without even informing the Afghan military.  Our military was evacuated leaving civilians and Afghani friends behind with no one to defend them.  

Instead of removing valuable equipment and armaments, we left them in place.  Some say the idea was to leave the Blackhawk helicopters to the Afghan military.  If that’s so, didn’t our intelligence tell us the Afghan military could be bribed by the Taliban or would flee without their big brothers from America?  Others say the equipment was supposed to be destroyed before the withdrawal and that some of it at the airport was destroyed.  Whatever the truth, the Taliban is now equipped with more modern military technology than most nations.

Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin and Chairman of Joint Chiefs, Gen. Mark Milley

This isn’t the first time the U.S. has looked weak, stumbling and bumbling.  Remember the withdrawal from Saigon?  That was embarrassing too.  How about the Iran hostage situation?  Embarrassing.  Then there was the mother of all screw-ups, the report from our crack intelligence agencies that Iraq possessed WMDs.  That was a multi-trillion-dollar mistake.   

But the Afghanistan blunder was different.  It was somehow worse, more humiliating.  Everyone knew what would happen.  The Taliban had been advancing province by province.  The Afghan Army was retreating or fleeing province by province.  It was clear the Taliban would sweep the entire country including Kabul.  The media kept repeating “this won’t be another Saigon” and yet, it was even worse.    

The word “strategy” is derived from the Greek word “strategos” which means military leader or leadership, but we seemed to have no strategos in Afghanistan.   If we knew we were going to leave, wouldn’t it make sense to withdraw our most valuable equipment and arms first?  Of course, a West Point education wouldn’t be needed to reach such a simple conclusion. 

Heads should roll in D.C., but who will get the blame?  The President will need a scapegoat.  Maybe the feckless Secretary of State Anthony Blinken who seems to apologize to everyone he meets.  He would be a good candidate.  There’s Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin or Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Mark Milley who only a month before the Afghanistan debacle testified before Congress about how important it is to educate troops on Critical Race Theory.   Or, maybe Biden will go lower on the totem pole and jettison the leader of Military Intelligence, Lieutenant General Scott D. Berrier.  Military Intelligence…hmm, that would seem warranted and have a nice ring to it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: