Blinken In The Senate
The hearing in the senate with Secretary of State Antony Blinken just ended. He had a rough day in the hot seat, to put it mildly. The attack came mostly from the Republicans as Democratic Senators tried to provide some cover for the President and Secretary. There wasn’t enough cover possible to deflect the direct attacks and questions.
The administration took it on the chin today — as they should have.
The main attempts to deflect were two. One was that they inherited a May 1 withdrawal date and simply executed against that. The beatdown of that was you moved the date to August 31, didn’t you? (Of course, first it was September 11th as unbelievable as that is.) He was asked why it wasn’t moved later to get past the fighting season and get people and equipment out. No answer. It’s not someone else’s plan when its your date.
The second defense was this was a 20 year issue and not solely on the doorstep of this administration. Let me address that.
First, the withdrawal and how it was conducted belongs to Biden and team. The sheer folly of how they did this and wanted to cover up the truth of what would happen is theirs. They were looking for a story and photo op, thus the September 11th original withdrawal date. They own the end.
The twenty year story has truth to it too. Except I extend that period to 24 years. Here’s my view on who owns what:
Bill Clinton owns this at the outset. He allowed terrorist acts to occur (like the USS Cole) with little or no response that enabled Bin Laden and team. He let them get established, grow and do acts. When he had a chance to take Bin Laden out, he backed off. By the time he left office the seeds and planning for Sept. 11th were in place.
George W. Bush owns the event occurring under his watch. The fact that on day one he knew who did the act tells you he was aware of the danger. Then he identified the mission. History will say the mission should have been to take out Bid Laden and team and not allow them to regroup. Adding a change in government to the mission, in a country that has never had one, created a long term mess. Going into Iraq and diverting attention from the problem in Afghanistan added to the mess.
Barrack Obama wanted out, but unlike Joe Biden, later he knew what the outcome would be. So he sent 30,000 troops back in to secure the area. He didn’t want an aggressive action, he then played defense. You’re either in or you’re out. He played for a stalemate and that accomplishes nothing.
Donald Trump, like Obama, wanted out badly. He saw ending the wars as a legacy and he was always playing to history. He had to be convinced on numerous occasions to stay, and every time he was faced with the choice he stayed. For election purposes he announced the May date to “keep his promise.” If reelected would he have left and let this occur? I don’t think so.
Along comes Joe Biden and decides to pull the trigger. He did so for a number of reasons, one was legacy. He never dreamed the timing would be what it was. He bet on history and lost.
Thus, if there are lessons go back 24 years. Get them before they get you. Certainly get them after they attack you and think they can do it again. When you take action, define a mission that makes sense. Taking out your enemy does. Creating a government in a country that has never had one is not it. Don’t leave for a date you set or a photo op you want. Manage it with your allies. Take your people out first. Take your equipment. Go on your timetable.
Plenty of blame for five Presidents. But this administration owns the closing act, no matter what they say.