For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
As rarely ever happens, we have an opportunity to compare and contrast the leadership of two different American Presidents in very similar circumstance.
- TRUMP committed the US and signed into international law an agreement to withdraw from five military bases including Bagram no later than July 14, 2020.
- TRUMP committed the US and signed into international law an agreement to withdraw all troops, "The United States, its allies, and the Coalition" no later than April 30, 2021.
- On Nov 11th, the day after Trump was officially advised that he had lost the election fair and square and all further agitation towards discrediting the election was unlawful, Trump ordered a massive stand-down of US forces. Specifically, in writing, Trump ordered all US forces out of Afghanistan no later than Jan 15, 2021
- Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller told reporters his response to the order was "What the fuck is this?"
- News of the memo spread quickly throughout the Pentagon. Top military brass, including Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, were appalled. This was not the way to conduct policy — with no consultation, no input, no process for gaming out consequences or offering alternatives.
A call was quickly placed to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone. In turn, Cipollone notified the national security adviser, Robert O'Brien. Neither Cipollone nor O'Brien had any idea what the order was or where it had come from.
Neither did the office of the staff secretary — whose job it was to vet all the paper that reached the president's desk. Yet the paper bore Trump's distinctive Sharpie signature.
The U.S. government's top national security leaders soon realized they were dealing with an off-the-books operation by the commander in chief himself.
- Miller and the Pentagon publicly expressed their concern regarding the feasibility and legality of executing such a reckless order when the President was clearly emotionally unstable and erratic.
- Miller told associates he had three goals for the final weeks of the Trump administration:
- #1: No major war.
- #2: No military coup.
- #3: No troops fighting citizens on the streets.
- Miller and the Pentagon conspired to ignore the direct order from their Commander-in-Chief
- One of the first actions Biden took in office was to contact the Taliban and advise that Trump was badly behind schedule on the promised April 30 withdrawal.
- The Taliban agreed to push the withdrawal to Aug 31 but stated clearly that any US troops in Afghanistan after Aug 31 would be a violation of the peace agreement and a renewed declaration of war.
Transcript: Hearing to Receive Testimony on the Conclusion of Military Operations in Afghanistan and Plans for Future Counterterrorism Operations (Round 1 of Questioning)
United States Senate Committee on Armed Services
Tuesday, September 28, 2021 Senator Warren: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
So I want to begin by zooming out, because it is not possible to understand our final months in Afghanistan without viewing them in the context of the 20 years that led up to them. Anyone who says the last few months were a failure but everything before that was great, clearly hasn’t been paying attention.
In 2015, the Taliban conquered its first province since 2001. By October 2018, the Afghan government controlled only 54% of the 407 districts. And by May 2020, the Afghan government controlled less than a third of Afghan’s 407 districts. We poured money and support and air cover, and the Afghan government continued to fail.
By 2021, it was clear that 2,500 troops could not successfully prop up a government that had been losing ground and support to the Taliban for years.
Secretary Austin, I understand that you advised President Biden to stay in Afghanistan. But, as you acknowledge, staying or withdrawing is a decision for the President alone. So I want to focus on what happened next. Once President Biden made the decision to have U.S. forces leave the country, who designed the evacuation?
Secretary Austin: Well, Senator, again, I won’t address what I advised, but the advice I gave to the President. I would just say that in his calculus, this was not risk-free, and the Taliban, as we've said earlier in this hearing, were committed to recommencing their operations against our forces. His assessment was that in order to sustain that and continue to do things that benefitted the Afghans that would require at some point that he increase the presence -- our presence -- there in Afghanistan. So once he made the decision, then of course, from a military perspective -- in terms of the retrograde of the people and the equipment -- that was, that planning was done by Central Command, and certainly, principally, by General Miller. Very detailed planning. And then, we came back and briefed the entire inner agency on the details of that plan.
Senator Warren: Okay. So the military planned the evacuation. Did President Biden follow your advice on executing on the evacuation plan?
Secretary Austin: He did.
Senator Warren: Did President Biden give you all the resources that you needed?
Secretary Austin: From my view, he did.
Senator Warren: Did President Biden ignore your advice on the evacuation at any point?
Secretary Austin: No, Senator. He did not.
Sen Warren: Did he refuse any requests for anything that you needed or asked for?
Secretary Austin: No.
Senator Warren: So the President followed the advice of his military advisors in planning and executing this withdrawal. As we’ve already established, the seeds for our failure in Afghanistan were planted many, many years ago, so let me ask you one more question, Secretary Austin. Knowing what you know now, if we had stayed in Afghanistan for another year, would it have made a fundamental difference?
Secretary Austin: Again, it depends on what size you remain in at and what your objectives are. There are a range of possibilities, but if you stayed there at force posture of 2,500, certainly, you'd be in a fight with the Taliban. And you'd have to reinforce yourself.
Senator Warren: I appreciate you looking at it as a fighter, but I would also add one more year of propping up a corrupt government and an army that wouldn't fight on its own was not going to give us a different outcome. And anyone who thinks differently is either fooling himself or trying to fool the rest of us.
I believe President Biden had it exactly right: Withdrawing was long overdue. The withdrawal was conducted in accordance with the advice of his military advisors, who planned and executed every step of this withdrawal.
To be clear, any and all commanders recommending in January 2021 that the US maintain a rump force or hold onto Bagram understood that they were recommending a renewal of hostilities in Afghanistan and a violation of the international Treaty Trump had signed a year earlier. Biden wisely refused to break faith with NATO and persist in the the longest war in US history without any realistic future hope of strategic or diplomatic advantage to the US.
When Biden says "I don't recall," we should correctly interpret that remark as an attempt to protect the reputation of certain incompetent warmongers pontificating from the Pentagon.
Now ask of yourself- which of these is the more effective Commander-in-Chief?
A commander that orders an immediate withdrawal without any logistic or political consultation and who is so afraid to stake his reputation on the order that the military can confidently and effectively ignore that direct order?
A commander who says "I've bought you a little extra time since you got nothing done all last year but I need you to make speed now and withdraw by Aug 31. What do you need from me?" And the order is obeyed?