‘The likelihood there’s going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country [of Afghanistan] is highly unlikely,” President Biden confidently proclaimed in July. “There’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy.”
One month later, the scenario Mr. Biden deemed impossible has become a horrifying reality. In recent days, the world has watched panicked civilians cling to U.S. military aircraft in a desperate attempt to escape the chaos unleashed by Mr. Biden’s reckless retreat. American diplomats had to beg our enemies not to storm our embassy in Kabul. Taliban fighters have seized scores of American military vehicles, rifles, artillery, aircraft, helicopters and drones.
The Biden administration’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan is a foreign-policy humiliation unlike anything our country has endured since the Iran hostage crisis.
It has embarrassed America on the world stage, caused allies to doubt our dependability, and emboldened enemies to test our resolve. Worst of all, it has dishonored the memory of the heroic Americans who helped bring terrorists to justice after 9/11, and all who served in Afghanistan over the past 20 years.
In February 2020, the Trump administration reached an agreement that required the Taliban to end all attacks on U.S. military personnel, to refuse terrorists safe harbor, and to negotiate with Afghan leaders on creating a new government. As long as these conditions were met, the U.S. would conduct a gradual and orderly withdrawal of military forces.
Unanimously endorsed by the United Nations Security Council, the agreement immediately brought to Afghanistan a stability unseen in decades. In the past 18 months, the U.S. has not suffered a single combat casualty there.
By the time we left office, the Afghan government and the Taliban each controlled their respective territories, neither was mounting major offensives, and America had only 2,500 U.S. troops in the country—the smallest military presence since the war began in 2001.
America’s endless war was coming to a dignified end, and Bagram Air Base ensured we could conduct counterterrorism missions through the war’s conclusion.
The progress our administration made toward ending the war was possible because Taliban leaders understood that the consequences of violating the deal would be swift and severe. After our military took out Iranian terrorist Qasem Soleimani, and U.S. Special Forces killed the leader of ISIS, the Taliban had no doubt we would keep our promise.
But when Mr. Biden became president, he quickly announced that U.S. forces would remain in Afghanistan for an additional four months without a clear reason for doing so. There was no plan to transport the billions of dollars worth of American equipment recently captured by the Taliban, or evacuate the thousands of Americans now scrambling to escape Kabul, or facilitate the regional resettlement of the thousands of Afghan refugees who will now be seeking asylum in the U.S. with little or no vetting. Rather, it seems that the president simply didn’t want to appear to be abiding by the terms of a deal negotiated by his predecessor.
Once Mr. Biden broke the deal, the Taliban launched a major offensive against the Afghan government and seized Kabul. They knew there was no credible threat of force under this president. They’ve seen him kowtow to anti-Semitic terrorist groups like Hamas, restore millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinian Authority, and sit by earlier this year while thousands of rockets rained down on Israeli civilians.
Weakness arouses evil—and the magnitude of evil now rising in Afghanistan speaks volumes about the weaknesses of Mr. Biden. To limit the carnage, the president has ordered more troops to Afghanistan, tripling our military presence amid a supposed withdrawal.
After 20 years, more than 2,400 American deaths, 20,000 Americans wounded, and over $2 trillion spent, the American people are ready to bring our troops home.
But the manner in which Mr. Biden has executed this withdrawal is a disgrace, unworthy of the courageous American service men and women whose blood still stains the soil of Afghanistan.
Mr. Pence served as vice president of the United States, 2017-21, and is chairman of Advancing American Freedom. [Wall Street Journal]