America's incompetent abandonment of Afghanistan and the instant collapse of the government we built, supported, and funded for 20 years is a humiliating failure for our ruling class. The disaster that unfolded over the past month belongs to President Biden, but the foundation was laid by our "smart" political, military, and intelligence leaders over the past two decades.

Every four years, a Democratic presidential candidate pops up and reminds us that he -- or, one cycle, she -- represents the smart party when it comes to foreign policy. These Democrats boast that they're not isolationist, like Donald Trump, and they're not unilateralist cowboys, like George W. Bush. They, and their top advisers, assure us that they are right, tough, smart, nuanced, and sophisticated. And every four years, the U.S. foreign-policy establishment -- think-tank wonks, retired diplomats, columnists and authors, certain retired generals -- almost uniformly swoons at these Democratic presidential candidates' keen grasp of a complicated and dangerous world.

And these top Democrats are not shy about telling us how they understand the world better than anyone else does. ...

In the worldview of the Democratic foreign-policy cognoscenti, Americans should expect foreign-policy crises during Republican presidencies, because GOP presidents and their foreign-policy teams are either crazed warmongers or ignorant, selfish isolationists, or some combination of the two. They just don't understand the world as well as the self-identified "smart" Democratic foreign-policy thinkers.

But something odd happens whenever the self-identified "smart" Democratic foreign-policy thinkers come to power. Somehow, randomly -- through no fault of their own, they insist -- disaster strikes.

Jim Geraghty lists numerous examples for your edification.

Mark Steyn takes a wider-angle view that highlights the utter incompetence of American leadership.

To modify Hillary Clinton, what difference at this point would it make if the US government simply laid off its entire "intelligence community"?

Indeed, what difference would it make if it closed down its military? Obviously, it would present a few mid-life challenges for its corrupt Pentagon bureaucracy, since that many generals on the market for defense lobbyist gigs and board directorships all at once would likely depress the going rate. But, other than that, a military that accounts for 40 per cent of the planet's military spending can't perform either of the functions for which one has an army: it can't defeat overseas enemies, and it's not permitted to defend the country, as we see on the Rio Grande.

So what's the point? ...

One of the depressing aspects of the Swamp is that everything becomes a racket - including even your armed forces. Look at that buffoon at top right, the guy who heads the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Thoroughly Modern Milley: that's an awful lot of chest ribbonry for a nation that hasn't won a war in three-quarters of a century. During his recent wokier-than-thou Congressional testimony on "white rage", I wish someone would have asked Thoroughly Modern what they were all for[.] ...

I'm in favor of razing the Pentagon and salting the earth - or, at the very least, firing Milley and the massed ranks of "parade generals" (a useful Commonwealth term) and moving the few guys left to a new HQ in a strip-mall on the edge of Cleveland. The bigger your armed forces get, the more they become a racket - as the US-created "Afghan National Army" "300,000-strong" (and now down to, oh, twenty-seven maybe) has just conveniently demonstrated. As for where all the money wound up, the Taliban's tour of American "ally" and former Afghan vice-president "Marshal" Dostum's palatial spread provides a clue.

dostum palace.jpg

Yeah, those golden thrones were bought with American blood and taxes. Needless to say, Dostum and his forces surrendered to the Taliban without a shot fired.

President Biden argued there was no point in America spending more time in Afghanistan. Biden is correct about many things, but was incompetent in his execution. He said:

So what's happened? Afghanistan political leaders gave up and fled the country. The Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight.

If anything, the developments of the past week reinforced that ending U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan now was the right decision.

American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves. We spent over a trillion dollars. We trained and equipped an Afghan military force of some 300,000 strong -- incredibly well equipped -- a force larger in size than the militaries of many of our NATO allies.

We gave them every tool they could need. We paid their salaries, provided for the maintenance of their air force -- something the Taliban doesn't have. Taliban does not have an air force. We provided close air support.

We gave them every chance to determine their own future. What we could not provide them was the will to fight for that future.

There's some very brave and capable Afghan special forces units and soldiers, but if Afghanistan is unable to mount any real resistance to the Taliban now, there is no chance that 1 year -- 1 more year, 5 more years, or 20 more years of U.S. military boots on the ground would've made any difference.

The problem here is that none of these events was inevitable. Afghanistan could have turned out differently if our political, military, and intelligence leaders had been competent over the past two decades. What's more, the withdrawal itself could have gone differently if President Biden had been competent over the past seven months. We didn't have to close Bagram Air Base and make ourselves dependent on Kabul's commercial airport. We didn't have to delude ourselves that the Afghans would fight when they wouldn't. We could have projected the Taliban taking Kabul in 90 hours rather than 90 days. These were all bad decisions that weren't inevitable; they were the result of incompetence.

We pray for peace, safety, and security in Afghanistan. We pray that Afghan women and girls will be protected. We pray that refugees will be provided for. We pray that Americans and our allies who are trapped in the country will be evacuated safely. We pray that evil will be restrained. We pray that American and global leaders will have wisdom and courage to protect the powerless.

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