By Ravi Shankar/The New Indian Express
Chennai, August 29: In public life a leader is defined by his predecessor. The venality, lies and boorishness that defined the Donald Trump presidency by contrast showed Joe Biden as a patrician president, a healer of America. Then it came, the inevitable moment of reckoning that tests a leader’s mettle and shapes his legacy for posterity. It is the chaotic US retreat from Afghanistan and the mortal danger America’s Afghan allies are in Kabul and elsewhere, which have stained the Biden presidency forever.
His perverse political self-belief showed itself first after the Vietnam War ended and President Gerald Ford ordered a massive evacuation operation of thousands of South Vietnamese who had helped America during the war. The man who hindered Ford’s humanitarian effort was 36-year-old Senator Joe Biden. He thundered in the Senate, “I do not believe the United States has an obligation, moral or otherwise, to evacuate foreign nationals.” Thanks to Biden, over 1,74,000 South Vietnamese were arrested, brutally tortured, executed or sent to ‘re-education camps’. Joe Biden has blood on his hands. In 1975, it was Vietnamese blood. In 2021, it is Afghani. Now he is an old man, but not a changed man. He is repeating Vietnam in Afghanistan.
Some lies are deliberate misunderstandings of the truth. Biden lied that he didn’t expect Kabul to ffall so fast though the Pentagon had warned about the swiftness of the Taliban blitz. Biden alleged that the Afghan government fled, which isn’t true: many politicians, including Vice President Amrullah Saleh, stayed back to defy the Taliban. Biden explained on TV, “Our mission in Afghanistan was never supposed to have been nation building.” But in 2003 his view was that the “alternative to nation building is chaos, a chaos that churns out bloodthirsty warlords, drug traffickers and terrorists”. And they are back to destabilise the region where the US has strategic interests. Its prominent anti-China ally India is in danger of more terror attacks from across the lawless Afghan border.
The Taliban have threatened America of “consequences” if it does not stick to the withdrawal date. If Biden is naïve enough to believe Taliban assurances that Afghan soil won’t be used to launch terror attacks against the US, the Pentagon had already briefed the White House about the Taliban and al-Qaeda conducting “joint attacks” in Afghanistan. Taliban leaders have appointed as the security in-charge of Kabul, Khalil Haqqani who has a $5 million bounty on his head.
IS fighters have entered Afghanistan, so has al-Qaeda. Afghanistan is once again the hothouse of horror where the seeds of death and terrorism are being sown. America’s beloved grandfather is a man not to be trusted; a leader who would let millions of people who have been his country’s allies be shot, whipped, hanged from lampposts, raped, stoned and murdered so that he won’t “pass on a war to the fifth President”. Instead he has passed on the war to America and the world. It is not incumbent on a president to stick to his antecessor’s promises. Biden could have retained a small contingent of NATO forces on the ground. Now that the ground has shifted under his feet, Joe Biden’s name will be on the next headstone in the graveyard of empires.