Joe Biden is afraid of offending the Taliban, the group that controls the fate of his presidency.
NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE J oe Biden has done many things in his statements about Afghanistan over the last week, from his speech last Monday to his brief press conference Sunday afternoon.
He’s critiqued Afghan leaders, blamed Donald Trump, denied he could have known what would happen, and painted rosy scenarios about the situation on the ground at the Kabul airport.
The one thing he’s never done, though, is criticize the Taliban.
The United States has been humiliated by Islamic radicals who have killed and maimed Americans for 20 years toward the end of restoring their medieval rule to Afghanistan, and the president of the United States can’t call them out — because he’s so dependent on them.
Biden needs the Taliban right now. They control the fate of his presidency, and have the power to determine whether he gets out of this to fight another day, or whether he’s the next LBJ or Jimmy Carter, whose presidencies were destroyed by the Vietnam War and the Iranian hostage crisis, respectively.
If the Taliban, or a faction of them, decide to take American hostages or, say, crater the runway at the Kabul airport, the current debacle would instantly become several magnitudes worse.
So Biden is very forceful at rebutting his critics, but gentle as a kitten when talking about the Taliban, who, in Biden’s statements, have achieved a status almost like that of a partner.
In his otherworldly Friday press conference, Biden assured the American public, “We’ve been in constant contact with the Taliban leadership on the ground in — in Kabul, as well as the Taliban leadership at Doha, and we’ve been coordinating what we are doing.”
Biden vouched for the Taliban’s good faith. He asserted — against the evidence on the ground and counter to his own defense secretary’s briefing to Congress — that Americans were reliably reaching the airport, thanks to the good offices of the Taliban.
“We have no indication,” he said of the trapped Americans, “that they haven’t been able to get — in Kabul — through the airport. We’ve made an agreement with the — with the Taliban. Thus far, they’ve allowed them to go through. It’s in their interest for them to go through.”
Biden has swaddled any slightly discouraging sentiments about the Taliban with hopefulness about the prospect of the group moderating its behavior.
When George Stephanopoulos asked Biden last week whether he thinks the Taliban have changed, Biden denied it and then immediately said the Taliban are facing a choice. “I think they’re going through sort of an existential crisis,” he said, “about do they want to be recognized by the international community as being a legitimate government.”
In his Friday press conference, Biden mentioned possible sanctions and the prospect of the Taliban changing in the same breath. “Secretary Blinken and I [are] going to be working with our allies,” he explained, “to see to it that we can bring international pressure on the Taliban to be — they’re looking to gain some legitimacy. They’re going to have to figure out how they’re going to maintain that country.”
At the end of his Sunday press conference, a reporter got to the crux of the matter. He asked Biden if he trusts the Taliban. Biden avoided answering and then, when the reporter asked again, Biden deflected by saying that he doesn’t trust anyone, including the reporter who asked the question. He then talked again of the “fundamental decision” the Taliban have to make about their legitimacy.
So here was a president of the United States incapable of saying he doesn’t trust a sworn enemy of the United States that swept to power in Afghanistan while making blatantly false assurances to us as part of a bogus “peace process.”
Biden’s new theme in defending his withdrawal is to say that there is no way it could have ended otherwise. In other words, it was inevitable that the 20-year war would end with our becoming totally dependent on the Taliban to complete our withdrawal and afraid to criticize them. This is an appalling state of affairs, but Biden can’t admit that there’s anything wrong, lest he offend the new masters of Afghanistan.
PHOTOS: Afghanistan Evacuation