Biden’s Afghan fiascoPARK HYUN-YOUNG
The author is a Washington correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.
On July 8 in the East Room of the White House, U.S. President Joe Biden said, “There’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy of the United States from Afghanistan. It is not at all comparable.” He was answering a reporter who was comparing the withdrawal from Afghanistan to the U.S. evacuation from Saigon during the Vietnam War.
In the same press conference, President Biden said it was “highly unlikely” that the Taliban would overrun Afghanistan and take control.
Mentioning a possible contingency in Afghanistan at the House Foreign Relations Committee on June 7, Secretary of State Tony Blinken said, “If there is a significant deterioration in security, I don’t think it’s going to be something that happens from a Friday to a Monday.”
Coincidentally, the fall of Kabul happened over a weekend and the Taliban took over the entire country. Shortly before the fall, U.S. military helicopters evacuated diplomats from the embassy.
Biden is commonly acknowledged as a “diplomatic” president. He served as the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee three times, and President Barack Obama picked him as running mate due to his experience in foreign affairs.
But in the first test of his diplomatic caliber as president, he failed miserably.
A week has passed since the fall of Kabul, but the situation is aggravating and questions grow. President Biden said that the Afghan military, which was supposed to have 300,000 troops, had little will to fight. But is it possible to evaluate an army by ignoring military discipline? There were 2,500 American troops in Afghanistan when Biden was inaugurated. But when most of them withdrew, there were still 10,000 to 20,000 Americans left in the country. Is it possible for armed troops to “escape” before unarmed civilians do? Six thousand more troops were sent again for the evacuation operation.
Some think Biden’s mistake in Afghanistan is a disaster comparable to Jimmy Carter’s naive response to the Iranian hostage case in 1979, George W. Bush’s late response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Donald Trump’s inaction against Covid-19 in 2020. Carter and Trump failed to be reelected, and Bush’s approval rating fell from 90 percent to 30 percent in the first year of his second term.
America and Biden’s leadership is shaking. Allies are uncertain whether they can trust the U.S. In the meantime, China is elated to have spotted the weakness. As new variables are added to U.S.-China relations, North Korea could take advantage. Biden’s Democratic Party cannot be optimistic about the midterm elections next year. His reelection is uncertain at this time. As a fluttering butterfly can cause a tornado, I wonder what will happen after his mistakes in Afghanistan.