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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/23/21

Biden's Nightmarish Discovery of Political Controversy

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President Joe Biden has had a pretty easy time of it through the first half year of his tenure. Not that there have been no controversies, no challenges, and no very serious problems to deal with. But he handled them with a certain poise and apparent control. His cabinet appeared to be responsible and sound in its advice and public communications. Very little got through the armor that seemed to protect Biden's image. After all, he was Joe Biden, the heavily experienced government guy. He was sincere and benevolent. He was intelligent and empathetic. All of these things set him apart from his predecessor in meaningful and heavily appreciated ways. Well, things have certainly changed.

It must be granted that Biden inherited yet another mess from his predecessor in light of the Afghanistan withdrawal deal that had been made with the Taliban. Ah, yes, the Taliban. There are good reasons why much of the developed world views the Taliban as a violent terrorist organization. For some reason, the United States is not among them, but the rest of the free world basically says yes, by golly, the Taliban are terrorists. And apparently the 45th president felt as if this organization presented him with a golden opportunity to do something other than attack Democrats and play golf. He wanted to invite the Taliban to the White House, or to Camp David. He offered them something in exchange for essentially nothing, and they jumped at the chance. We would withdraw all of our forces from their country and we actually gave them a date by which we would abandon the 20-year mission that kept us there. That was the nature of this particular mess that Joe Biden inherited. And it was one objective that he couldn't avoid trying to meet, as it represented something the American people supported, and something Joe Biden had championed for quite some time. Twenty years in, the United States would be out of its "forever war."

However, this would prove to be unlike the administration's other problems in earlier months. This was bigger than record numbers of illegal aliens and unaccompanied minors seeking refuge. This was bigger than a sour economy that was beginning to surge back to life only to face uncertainty again. This was bigger than the vaccine roll-out and the problems of a hesitant and even antagonistic segment of the public toward taking necessary precautions. This was bigger than even the coronavirus pandemic itself, and the thousands of dead Americans resulting from it. While getting out of Afghanistan was both desirable and desired by a meaningful majority, it was going to be delicate. As it turned out, delicate would be a serious understatement.

In the early stages, the planning seemed to be in place to make the withdrawal happen on schedule and in time to meet the arbitrary deadline that Biden altered from that of his predecessor. Instead of being out of Afghanistan by May first, we would have three full additional months, being out by August 31. Give yourself more time. Good idea. The administration seemed to have a good grasp on what had to be accomplished and how long it could take.

What did the Biden administration accomplish with this new cushion of three extra months' time? As it turns out, the administration apparently accomplished next to nothing. The time was wasted. With upwards of 20,000 people to be evacuated, only about five percent were moved. And no one determined the approximate total number to be evacuated. Not even the number of American citizens was known.

Then, of course, the time table got really short when the Afghan army of 300,000+ deserted, surrendered, and just plain vanished into thin air. The government collapsed. Its leadership left the country. And the Taliban swept into control in a matter of days, not months as Biden had been advised. Of course, there had been that minority of advisors who cautioned of a collapse and immediate take-over by the Taliban. But that advice was ignored. Where was that contingency planning?

The evacuation now had to proceed, tardy as it was, through the stranglehold of Taliban control. The convenient air base had already been deserted and abandoned to the Taliban, so the evacuation had to proceed from the local airport. External security now had to be relegated to the Taliban. Yes, the Taliban were the security outside the gates. Thousands of local citizens formed a throng on the runway, actually climbing onto the exterior of huge transport jets as they taxied for takeoff. One person was seen falling to his death from an airborne jet. The throngs had to be removed. They were. Outside, the Taliban fired shots to keep the thousands of people from storming the gates. Estimates varied, but at one point there were some 14,000 people outside the gates of the airport.

With only days remaining before the supposed and ill-advised deadline for complete withdrawal, the destination for relocation in Qatar was filled to capacity, and the Qatari government said, "No more, thank you." The evac that was supposed to be up to "five- to nine-thousand per day," stalled at about one thousand when the word from Qatar forced an 8-hour halt in the evacs. Where was that contingency plan? When the flights began again with new destinations, spokesman John Kirby stated that commercial airlines had been appropriated to assist in the evacuations. Right. The United States military doesn't have enough airplanes?

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Dan Cooper is an award winning freelance writer/editor living in the Texas Hill Country. He has worked in news and sports journalism and is currently working on several projects, including a memoir and the editing of a California Gold Rush (more...)

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