The fall of Afghanistan has shocked Obama’s former ambassador to such a degree that he is now questioning President Joe Biden’s ability to lead the nation.
Speaking with The Spokesman-Review, Ryan Crocker, who served as Obama’s ambassador from 2011 to 2012, lamented that the Biden administration failed to see the Taliban’s swift takeover when preparing for the withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“I think the direction was predictable; the trajectory was not,” he said. “What President Biden has done is to embrace the Afghan policy of President Trump, and this is the outcome.”
Just a little over a month ago, Joe Biden rejected assertions that U.S. withdrawal would lead to another “Fall of Saigon” moment, wherein Americans and their allies would be fleeing Kabul as the country crumbled around them.
“Mr. President, some Vietnamese veterans see echoes of their experience in this withdrawal in Afghanistan. Do you see any parallels between this withdrawal and what happened in Vietnam?” Biden was asked on July 8.
“None whatsoever,” Biden replied. “Zero. What you had is you had entire brigades breaking through the gates of our embassy — six, if I’m not mistaken. The Taliban is not the South — the North Vietnamese army. They’re not — they’re not remotely comparable in terms of capability. There’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy in the — of the United States from Afghanistan. It is not at all comparable.”
While Crocker was critical of former President Trump’s plan to withdraw from Afghanistan and negotiate with the Taliban, he believed the Biden administration should have been ready to provide adequate air support to Afghan forces stationed throughout the country. In February of last year, then-President Trump said his administration’s agreement of withdrawal would be contingent upon the Taliban’s cooperation.
“If bad things happen, we’ll go back,” Trump said.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo equally promised, “Today, we are realistic. We are seizing the best opportunity for peace in a generation. Today, we are restrained. We recognize that America shouldn’t fight in perpetuity in the graveyard of empires if we can help Afghans forge peace.”
The spectacle of the Taliban overtaking Kabul as the United States withdrawals could have consequences for years to come, according to Crocker, who fears that Islamists will now have a calling card of victory to better its recruiting strategies.
“We’re going to pay for that for a long time to come, and that’s why it is insane – just idiotic – to think that we can tell the Taliban that if they don’t stop taking over territory and play nice, the international community will withhold recognition and support,” he said. “The Taliban really doesn’t care, because they’ve got something far more valuable.”
Overall, Crocker had serious doubts about President Biden’s ability to lead.
“I’m left with some grave questions in my mind about his ability to lead our nation as commander-in-chief,” Crocker said. “To have read this so wrong – or, even worse, to have understood what was likely to happen and not care.”
President Biden will reportedly address the nation in a few days as vacations at Camp David amid Afghanistan’s fall.
Follow Paul Bois on Twitter @Paulbois39.