Some people have all the luck. The luckiest is US President Joe Biden. The usually skeptical media treats him with kid gloves. Prominent media houses downplayed the questionable deals his son Hunter made when Papa Biden was the vice-president. It took the dramatic and sudden takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban to wake the media and public intellectuals up to his monumental incompetence, indeed his cluelessness about the situation.
Then there are some who can do nothing right—that is, in the reckoning of the popes and bishops of public discourse. Former US president Donald Trump is among those whose permanent address, in their view, should be perdition. One wonders the reaction of politicians and opinion makers in America had he been in the office in these circumstances.
Quite apart from routine calls for his impeachment, the Democrats would have raised a stink; they would have accused Trump of stupidity, callousness, conceit, and worse. The mainstream media would have hauled him over the coals for having endangered the lives of thousands of Americans who are stranded in Afghanistan. Even conventional, anti-Trump Republicans like Mitt Romney and John Bolton would have blasted the 45th president for being lackadaisical and casual.
But here is Biden, blissful in ignorance about the situation on the ground. He is worthy of the title Shahi-i-Bekhabar (Heedless or uninformed king), which was given to Bahadur Shah I (1707-12), the son and successor of the Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb. Even as the Taliban fighters were entering the Afghan capital, he was vacationing.
Biden came out briefly after Kabul’s fall—to blame everybody but himself for the debacle. And yet, he had the temerity to say that the “buck stops with” him.
There is a phrase in Hindi, ‘paap ka ghara’, loosely translated as the pot of sins; when it gets full, it’s time for comeuppance. The same is true for the pot of luck: when it brims over, deplorable consequences follow.
Biden’s luck seems to have run its course. Honeymoon with the mainstream media is certainly over. Having humored him for too long, primarily because he managed to defeat Trump, it is now questioning the President’s handling of the situation. A recent write-up in The New York Times says, “Classified assessments by American spy agencies over the summer painted an increasingly grim picture of the prospect of a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and warned of the rapid collapse of the Afghan military, even as President Biden and his advisors said publicly that was unlikely to happen as quickly, according to current and former American government officials.”
On July 8, Biden had said, “Together, with our Nato allies and partners, we have trained and equipped over… nearly 300,000 current serving members of the military—of the Afghan National Security Force, and many beyond that who are no longer serving. Add to that, hundreds of thousands more Afghan National Defense and Security Forces trained over the last two decades.”
That proved to be a fiction, but not because the Afghan security forces were cowardly, as we shall see.
To the query on July 8, “Your own intelligence community has assessed that the Afghan government will likely collapse,” he replied, “That is not true.”
But by July, the NYT story says, many intelligence reports grew more pessimistic, questioning whether any Afghan security forces would muster serious resistance and whether the government could hold on in Kabul.
So, Biden has not just been lying but also maligning others, and not just Trump. After the fall of Kabul, he said, “The Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight. If anything, the developments of the past week reinforced that ending US 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.”
This was adding salt to the injury, for more than 66,000 Afghan soldiers and policemen died for their country, while the American losses were lower than 2,500. Afghans have surely shed blood for their country.
Yes, there were desertions; there was corruption; but to say that Afghans were not willing to fight is as malicious as it is mendacious.
Imagine Trump saying such a thing. Public intellectuals and media Brahmins would have made mincemeat of the former president, accusing him of racism, Islamophobia and arrogance. On the other hand, there is Biden who bungles, fumbles, mumbles, lies, and vilifies anybody when it suits its purpose.
Trump would have been condemned and calumniated by opinion makers for such statements and decisions. Biden, however, while no longer dealt with kid gloves, is yet to face the fire that singed Trump. Such are the perks of embracing the New Left fads like diversity, multiculturalism, and political correctness.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the stand of this publication.)