The scars of Afghanistan will stick to Biden

Proponents of President Biden have been hearing a message since he emerged from the crisis in Afghanistan: “Voters don’t remember that.” That analysis – or hope, really – could be wrong because this move left Biden with a lot of problems. No one is leaving in a hurry.

The most fruitful is that many independent voters are deciding that Joe Biden is simply incompetent. This “buyer’s remorse” is new, and it’s growing. While Democratic voters are still supporting the president, he is now deeply underwater with independents, both in terms of overall “favors” and handling a number of high-profile issues. A Quinnipiac survey conducted September 10-13 found that only 34% of independent individuals approved of his or her job performance, while 52% disagreed.

This negative attitude will be hardened if the White House and its media allies cannot resist them quickly. To do this, they must turn their attention away from growing failures (Afghanistan, illegal immigration, cowardly epidemics and inflation) and achieve some major legal victories that help voters in real ways. Biden is counting on two huge stimulus bills to get it done, but success is not guaranteed. The larger one cannot pass, partly because it will increase inflation and partly because it will have to support the Democrats ’big tax increase. Moreover, the expected benefits, if they are implemented, will not happen for one or two years. Costs will come soon: higher taxes and possibly higher inflation and economic sluggishness.

There are two more legs to the public’s tragic impression of Biden: the spread of covid and the rise of immigrants on the U.S.-Mexican border. The White House epidemic message is misleading and contradictory, with Biden himself failing to deliver on his committed policies and opposing his own medical experts. One of the themes of his signature campaign was that he could handle the epidemic better than Trump. Voters are not happy with the result. In the case of illegal immigration, the border crisis is growing significantly, and the administration appears to have no effective response. When a Fox News reporter asked White House spokeswoman Jane Saki why the administration was forcing workers to be vaccinated but not for illegal immigrants, all she could say was, “That’s right.” This is not an answer; It’s an admission.

These issues with Covid and immigration come when Biden desperately needs a victory – or, at least, a rational explanation for the United States’ destructive withdrawal from Afghanistan. So far, Biden has provided two main excuses, but he has been caught by both of them. One is that it’s all Trump’s fault. The other is “The army told me to do it.”

He must be right that Trump’s deal with the Taliban was deeply flawed. But there is no reason to believe that Trump ordered the last planes to fly if the Americans were still trapped there. It is even harder to believe that he relied on the goodwill of the Taliban, the Haqqani network and al-Qaeda, followed by Biden and the State Department.

We’ll never know what Trump did, but we know Biden’s Alibis voters aren’t credible. Americans set an underlying deadline to blame bad results on previous presidents, and Biden’s time is up. After the first few months of the new president, voters think, “We hired you to fix it, without blaming your predecessor. This is your problem now. ”

That’s exactly what they think about Afghanistan. Yes, they wanted to get out, but they thought the eviction was too bad and Joe Biden was solely responsible. They don’t believe he was trapped by Trump’s policies, not after Trump cut off all of his early presidency. The Quinnipiac poll shows that most Americans wanted to leave Afghanistan but about two-thirds All Respondents deny how the president handled it.

Biden’s second excuse, that he followed the “unanimous” recommendation of his military and national security aides, is also absurd. Apparently, some advisers recommended that he leave about 2,500 personnel for intelligence, special operations and air support. Others explicitly recommended not abandoning Bagram Air Base, which was a major strategic asset and a safe haven. Others agreed to leave Bagram simply because Biden refused to deploy enough troops to protect both the air base and the US embassy in Kabul. The intelligence community further claimed that they were far more pessimistic than Biden about the survival of the Afghan army and government.

Will the people ever know what the military said to Biden? Quite possible. Senate Republicans and some Democrats will seek answers with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Millie at the upcoming hearing. They may seek evidence from General Scott Miller, the head of US forces in Afghanistan, and General Kenneth McKenzie, the head of US Central Command. They will also want to hear from the intelligence agencies. Although some of their suggestions are necessarily personal, and some are categorized, we need to learn the gist of the discussion. Republicans must press the issue and leak some advisers that told Biden, “Don’t do this.” They don’t want to fall for politicians.

The biggest reason these problems don’t go away quickly is that some Americans and green-card holders are still trapped in Afghanistan. So those in the media who have worked closely with the United States are still not calling them “hostages,” but it’s hard to think of a more appropriate term. The locals who helped the Americans are in hiding, fearing they may be beheaded in front of their families. U.S.-sponsored participating women are being forced to wear burqas and detained as child brides.

The Taliban will not leave Afghans with these US citizens, green card holders, and special immigrant visas unless they receive a large reward in return. That’s how hostage work. But giving money and diplomatic recognition to a terrorist government will not go well with Americans. They hate rewarding thugs and terrorists, and they are forced to remember why we rewarded them in the first place.

To complicate matters further, we now hear the horrific news that a US drone strike has killed 10 innocent civilians, including seven children. Outside of human tragedy, mistaken bombings show how limited our intelligence capabilities are without eyes and ears on the ground. Remember, Biden’s argument for shutting down all American intelligence centers in Afghanistan was that we could get all the information we needed with the “over the digon” power. Intelligence officers always disagreed, so Biden must have known that his claim was false when he said it. This missile attack was the first real test, and we know the horrible results.

There is always a chance that the public will forget these disasters, as Biden hoped. Voters are usually waiting, not lagging behind, and the mainstream media is eager to move on from stories that hurt Democrats. The following data shows that they are doing just that:

Will people forget? If they do not conclude that Biden is incompetent, the abyss of bad judgment. It is not a matter of Americans being held hostage or Biden having to pay a ransom to free them. Probably not if they see the ongoing torture of captured Taliban on cell phones and are smuggled out of the country. Until Biden achieves some big policy victories that help the average voter and divert attention from his failures. Of course not if a new terrorist attack hits the United States and is linked to Afghanistan.

The worst episode of US foreign policy in a generation is the withdrawal of bots. Its effects will be lasting and voters will blame Biden. For the president and his party, the biggest hope should be that voters have fleeting memories.

Charles Lipson is Peter B. of Emeritus Political Science at the University of Chicago. He can be contacted at charles.lipson@gmail.com.

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