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Juan Williams: Biden is right on Afghanistan

Congratulations to President Biden.

Last week he gave the most effective, most honest foreign policy speech by an American president in the last 60 years.

Biden made no excuses. 

{mosads}And where the last three presidents kicked the can down the road, refusing to end the U.S. war in Afghanistan — even after more than 2,400 Americans died in that fight — Biden took responsibility. He shut it down.

“The events we’re seeing now are sadly proof that no amount of military force would ever deliver a stable, united, and secure Afghanistan — as known in history as the ‘graveyard of empires,’” Biden said from the White House last week.

“What is happening now could just as easily have happened five years ago or 15 years in the future. We have to be honest: Our mission in Afghanistan has taken many missteps — made many missteps over the past two decades.”

Now, let me add to the president’s speech.

As an American father and grandfather, I can’t imagine having to send a child to Afghanistan because yet another president is afraid of the political fallout for making an exit.

I’m speaking for a lot of people on this: In a poll released just last week, from The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 62 percent of Americans said the war in Afghanistan was not worth fighting. 

So, thank you, Mr. President.

“I’m now the fourth American president to preside over war in Afghanistan — two Democrats and two Republicans,” Biden said. “I will not pass this … responsibility on to a fifth president.”

Critics on the left and right pounced on Biden, saying even if it was past time to leave, the execution of the exit plan was badly done.


Here is what I saw. The Afghan military folded in the face of the enemy even after the U.S. spent close to a trillion dollars to train and arm them. The president of Afghanistan fled his country.

The U.S. interest in Afghanistan was accomplished long ago. Our troops killed Osama bin Laden 10 years ago and even before then prevented Afghanistan from being used as a base for the terrorists who attacked on 9/11.

Now some Republicans are screaming about the humanitarian crisis caused by the return of the Taliban’s iron-fisted rule.

And they blame Biden for allowing terrorists to celebrate the U.S. departure from Afghanistan.

“Every terrorist around the world is cheering in Syria, in Yemen, in Africa. They’ve watched the Taliban … defeat America in effect,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “It’s a sad day for the United States of America. … He [Biden] owns it.”

McConnell conveniently left out the fact that it was a Republican president, Donald Trump, who made the deal to withdraw all U.S. troops this year.

“This deal is entirely Trump’s,” Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton wrote of that agreement in his 2020 book, “The Room Where It Happened.” “Time will tell who is right, and the full effects of the deal may not become apparent until after Trump leaves office. But there should be no mistaking this reality: Trump will be responsible for the consequences, politically and militarily.”

And as NPR noted in a recent report: “Trump in fact had complained at his June 26 rally in Ohio that the Biden administration was dragging its feet and ought to get out faster.”

Meanwhile, we should not forget that it was a Republican president, George W. Bush, who started the war with an open-ended mission to stabilize the country after the Taliban was kicked out of power. 

{mossecondads}The only member of Congress with any standing to criticize Biden’s decision to pull out is Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.). She was the sole vote against going there in the first place.

“However difficult this vote may be. … Some of us must say, ‘Let’s step back for a moment, let’s just pause, just for a minute, and think through the implications of our actions today, so that this does not spiral out of control,” Lee said on the House floor just days after 9/11.

What does Lee say now?

She echoes Biden’s speech.

On MSNBC last week, she said: “There is no military solution, unfortunately, in Afghanistan.”

It is also worth remembering at this moment that Lee and other progressives who criticized the Bush administration’s war efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq were vilified as unpatriotic.

A Gallup poll taken last month found a dead heat on the question of whether the United States made a mistake 20 years ago by sending troops to Afghanistan. Forty-seven percent of voters said it was a mistake. Another 46 percent said it was the right decision.

The cold, harsh reality is that there was never a good time to leave Afghanistan.

I was a 21-year-old when images of the fall of Saigon and helicopter evacuation flashed across American TV screens. Twenty-six years later, the U.S. went to Afghanistan.

Twenty-six years from now, if the U.S. is considering another military adventure into nation-building in a foreign country, I would beg them to heed the lessons of history and refrain from doing it.

It will end in tears.

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.

Tags afghan war Afghanistan Afghanistan withdrawal Barbara Lee Foreign policy Joe Biden John Bolton Mitch McConnell War on Terror

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