The Corner

Politics & Policy

Biden, July 8: ‘The Taliban Overrunning Everything and Owning the Whole Country Is Highly Unlikely.’ 

People standing on a vehicle hold Taliban flags as crowds gather near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, Pakistan, July 14, 2021. (Abdul Khaliq Achakzai/Reuters)

It cannot be emphasized enough that the withdrawal from Afghanistan being executed by the Biden administration was based upon explicit assurances from the president that it would not be a rerun of the American humiliation and defeat in Vietnam.

President Biden, speaking July 8: 

Q: Mr. President, some Vietnamese veterans see echoes of their experience in this withdrawal in Afghanistan.  Do you see any parallels between this withdrawal and what happened in Vietnam, with some people feeling —

THE PRESIDENT:  None whatsoever.  Zero.  What you had is — you had entire brigades breaking through the gates of our embassy — six, if I’m not mistaken.

The Taliban is not the south — the North Vietnamese army. They’re not — they’re not remotely comparable in terms of capability.  There’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of a embassy in the — of the United States from Afghanistan.  It is not at all comparable.

Biden also said that day, “the likelihood there’s going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely.”

Today, the headline over on the Politico Playbook newsletter is “Joe Biden’s ‘fall of Saigon’.” The Financial Times declares, “Joe Biden’s credibility has been shredded in Afghanistan.” NBC News reports, “Potential Al Qaeda resurgence in Afghanistan worries U.S. officials.”  Everything that Biden insisted wasn’t going to happen… is happening.

Biden could have said, “we’re going to leave Afghanistan, the Taliban is likely to take over, the world will have an epic humanitarian disaster on its hands, and Islamist fundamentalism will have its greatest propaganda victory since the formulation of the Islamic State.” But if Biden had discussed the likely consequences of his decision with clear-eyed realism and blunt honesty, maybe the American public wouldn’t have been such big fans of what the president wanted to do regarding Afghanistan.

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