From comparing himself to NIXON and opposing Osama assassination, Biden's Afghan farce unravels
As the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan at a breakneck pace that stunned the world, US President Joe Biden was largely viewed as 'responsible' for the disaster. Latest reports reveal that the approval ratings for the President, who assumed office early this year in January 2021, have dipped slightly to 50 percent. But among all this, new reports reveal that Biden has long been a vocal critic of America's involvement in Afghanistan, and had once compared his actions to those of former President Richard Nixon during the Vietnam War.
Biden addressed the nation on the issue on Monday, August 16, at the White House, amid rising criticism of the plan to remove US personnel from Afghanistan. "I stand squarely behind my decision. After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw," he said in his first remarks after the Taliban overtook Kabul.
The way America left the gate open for Taliban troops to take over the country has left many people shocked. But new reports say that Biden's desire to wash his hands off the matter has been in the making for years. In 2010, Biden allegedly warned Richard Holbrooke, then-special Obama's representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, that the US had no choice but to leave Afghanistan, no matter what the cost to the Afghan people.
Biden's comments to Holbrooke were disclosed in his diary, which was mostly turned over to his official biographer George Packer after his death, the Daily Mail reported on Tuesday, August 17. Holbrooke was hired as a special advisor on Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2009, and until his death in December 2010, he was one of the Obama administration's most important advisers on US policy in the two nations.
'F**k that. We did it in Vietnam'
When asked about America's commitment to retaining a presence in Afghanistan to safeguard vulnerable civilians, Biden scornfully answered, referring to the US pullout from Southeast Asia in 1973, according to Holbrooke. "F*** that, we don't have to worry about that. We did it in Vietnam, Nixon and Kissinger got away with it," Biden had said.
In January 1973, as part of a ceasefire deal, all US combat activity in Vietnam was ceased, thereby ending official US involvement in the conflict after a decade. For negotiating the ceasefire, then-President Richard Nixon's secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, and North Vietnamese negotiator Le Duc Tho were given the Nobel Peace Prize, though Tho refused the honor.
In actuality, combat persisted between the Communist-ruled North and the US-allied South, and the South announced in 1974 that the peace accords had been canceled following violent clashes. After the Fall of Saigon in 1975, South Vietnamese forces had collapsed under the rapid advancement of the North Vietnamese. It marked the end of the Vietnam War, and over the next few months, the Communists solidified their control over the entire country.
Vocal critic of US involvement in Afghanistan since 2010
In a similar vein on Tuesday, August 17, the US resumed evacuation flights from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul after re-establishing a semblance of order, following fatal chaos there a day earlier. Despite strong criticism over the botched execution and charges that he ignored intelligence community warnings that Kabul may fall to the Taliban swiftly, Biden has defended his choice to leave Afghanistan.
Biden made his brutal analogy between withdrawing from Afghanistan and evacuating US troops from Southeast Asia two months before Holbrooke died in December 2010, according to his journal. Biden was portrayed in the diary as one of the most outspoken opponents of the Afghan war and a skeptic of America's commitment to the Afghan people. He echoed the same sentiments in his presidential address on Monday.
"I am president of the United States of America," he said. "And the buck stops with me. The truth is - this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated. So what's happened? Afghanistan's political leaders gave up and fled the country. The Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight. So I'm left again to ask of those who argue that we should stay: How many more generations of America's daughters and sons would you have me send to fight Afghanistan's civil war, when Afghan troops will not?" He added that he would not make mistakes the country has made in the past. "The mistake of staying and fighting indefinitely in a conflict that is not in the national interest of the United States," he said.
'Worst loss in American history'
Even so, retired SEAL Robert O'Neill, the former US Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden, has dubbed Biden a "disaster" over his troop pullout from Afghanistan, with the mounting situation being dubbed "the worst loss in American history." In a series of tweets, O'Neill slammed the President saying: "So, @POTUS is a disaster. This is the worst loss in American history. Our most popular president has vanished. Prove me wrong."
On Twitter, O'Neill, whose bio says, "Just a dude who fought for this county for no reason," took aim at Biden. After the president's speech, the retired SEAL shared a tweet from Biden's account and commented on it."We went to Afghanistan almost 20 years ago with clear goals: get those who attacked us on September 11, 2001—and make sure al Qaeda could not use Afghanistan as a base from which to attack us again. We did that—a decade ago. Our mission was never supposed to be nation building", Biden wrote.
O'Neill commented: "I agree with you, sir. Why did you oppose my team going to kill bin Laden? Asking for a bunch of dead Americans." Doubling down, he tweeted again: "Joe Biden opposed the raid to kill bin Laden. At least he lost Afghanistan in 7 months." During a top-secret May 2011 operation on bin Laden's stronghold in Abbottabad, Pakistan, O'Neill was the Navy SEAL who shot him three times in the head.
I agree with you, sir. Why did you oppose my team going to kill bin Laden? Asking for a bunch of dead Americans. https://t.co/6twLcqhcEx— Robert J. O'Neill (@mchooyah) August 17, 2021
Turnover in Afghanistan complete. Good luck, MF! pic.twitter.com/0YCU7tO48Z— Robert J. O'Neill (@mchooyah) July 22, 2021
Biden 'weighed in against' Osama raid
Biden's role in the raid, which occurred while he was Barack Obama's vice president, has been repeatedly questioned. During the 2020 presidential campaign, Donald Trump stated that Biden opposed the mission, and Obama wrote in his memoir that Biden "weighed in against the raid." In a December interview, Biden said he advised Obama to 'wait' for another flyover on the compound before encouraging him to 'follow your instincts.'
Whether Biden advised against the raid has been a contentious issue in US politics. During last year's election, Republican attack ads claimed that Biden opposed completely eliminating Bin Laden. Obama's biography, 'A Promised Land,' reflects the statements of other senior advisers who were present in the White House Situation Room nine years ago and said Biden advised prudence, The Guardian reported in 2020. Biden was concerned about "the enormous consequences of failure" and advised Obama to "defer any decision until the intelligence community was more certain that bin Laden was in the compound," according to Obama.
Obama makes no mention of any additional conversations with Biden in his book. “As the helicopters took off, Joe placed a hand on my shoulder and squeezed,” he wrote in his recollection of the mission's immediate aftermath. Biden said, "'Congratulations, boss."
GlobalGiving has launched the Afghanistan Emergency Fund, providing urgent support to locally-led organizations helping those most at risk across the country. Donations go to vetted nonprofits working in the region, helping those who are most at risk — including women, children, and activists — stay safe.