Ripples of Kabul

The American-nurtured Afghan military of the last 20 years that had suffered thousands of prior casualties evaporated in a few hours in the encirclement of Kabul. 

Enlistees apparently calculated that their own meager chances with the premodern Taliban were still better than fighting as a dependency of the postmodern United States—despite its deterrent embassy pride flags, powerful diversity training programs, and indomitable new Afghan University gender studies majors.  

Forces more powerful than the Taliban, in places far more strategic, will now leverage a cognitively challenged American president, an ideologically driven but predictably incompetent administration, a woke Pentagon, and politically weaponized intelligence communities. 

Why not, when Biden trashes both American frackers and the Saudis—only to beg the kingdom to rush to export more of its hated oil before the U.S. midterms?

Why not, when Biden asks Putin to request that Russian-related hackers be a little less rowdy in their selection of U.S. targets?

And why not when our own military jousts with the windmills of “white supremacy” as Afghans fall from U.S. military jets in fatal desperation to reach such a supposedly toxically racist nation?

Biden keeps repeating that he was bound by Trump’s planned withdrawal. 


A mercurial Trump repeatedly demonstrated he was willing to use air power to protect U.S. personnel and to bomb the “sh-t” out of an Islamic would-be caliphate. The Taliban knew that and so struck when Trump was gone.

Biden claims he was bound by the Trump decision to withdraw and thus cannot be blamed for his reckless operation of a predetermined departure. But all Biden has done since entering office was to destroy Trump pacts—overturning past agreements on energy leases, protocols with Latin America and Mexico on border security, the Abraham Accords, and pipeline contracts.

No sooner did Biden claim he was straight jacketed by Trump, than he reversed course to defend not just his own withdrawal but the disastrous manner of it. In his dotage, Biden claims that he has no free will, while insisting he would have done nothing differently had he such.

In a sane world, the Joint Chiefs and the secretary of defense would resign. We have heard for too long their careerist boasts about assigning climate change as their chief challenge. For too long they have virtue signaled their critical race theory credentials to Congress. For too long, they have bragged about rooting out alleged “white supremacists” from their ranks. For too long they have sparred with journalists, while fighting twitter wars and issuing cartoonish commercials attesting to their woke credentials. 

In other words, they sermonized on anything and everything—except their plans to prevent a humiliating military defeat of U.S. forces and their allies. 

Our intelligence and investigatory agencies are just as morally suspect. The legacy of John Brennan, James Clapper, James Comey, and Andrew McCabe has been the destruction of the reputations of the CIA, NSA, and FBI.

Current and retired intelligence lackeys and careerists all wasted years promulgating Russian “collusion.” They swore Hunter Biden’s laptop was Russian “disinformation.” They doctored evidence, surveilled and unmasked officials, and hatched adolescent plots against an elected president. All that was more important to their careers than warning of the growing existential threats in Afghanistan. 

In the aftermath of the Afghan debacle, we must depoliticize and de-weaponize these warped agencies and incompetent institutions. 

We could get a symbolic start by pulling security clearances from all retired operatives, officers, and diplomats who go on television to offer partisan analyses, by winking and nodding about their elite access to top-secret raw data. 

The retired and pensioned top brass should finally be held to account if they violate tenets of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. When four-stars lecture the nation that an elected president is a Mussolini or Nazi-like but keep mum during the greatest military setback in a half-century, they should forfeit exemptions from existing military codes.

Retired officers who revolve in and out of corporate defense contractor boards to Pentagon billets should have a cooling off period of five years before leveraging their inside knowledge of the Pentagon procurement labyrinth.

As for Joe Biden, his team in defeat threatens the victorious Taliban with possible ostracism from global diplomacy as the price of their illiberality. We are to assume that in between executing women, the Taliban will fear losing the chance to visit the UN in New York.

Biden himself has defied a Supreme Court ruling and assumed that it was a good thing to have broken the law. Under his watch, the fate of America’s border, voting integrity, equal enforcement of the laws, economy, energy, safety from crime, foreign policy and racial relations have imploded—and in seven months no less.

If Joe Biden were a Republican, the current Democratic House would long ago have impeached him. After the Kabul catastrophe, even the bipartisan Senate might well have convicted him. And both would have been right to have done so.

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004, and is the 2023 Giles O'Malley Distinguished Visiting Professor at the School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush, and the Bradley Prize in 2008. Hanson is also a farmer (growing almonds on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author most recently of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, The Case for Trump and the recently released The Dying Citizen, and the forthcoming The End of Everything (May 7, 2024).

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

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