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Generals Milley and McKenzie testify to Biden’s Afghan fiasco

Generals Milley and McKenzie testify to Biden’s Afghan fiasco

One of the most egregious decisions made by President Biden was the unilateral and unconditional surrender to the Taliban in Afghanistan.  Many attribute Biden’s decision — and his handling of the withdrawal — as a turning point in public perception of him and his presidency.  Causal or coincidental, Biden’s favorable rating plummeted below 50 percent at the time – and has never exceeded it since.

In the three years since that fateful decision, memories of the facts of that event have faded and false narratives have arisen.  Most notably, Biden and Democrats have laid the blame for the departure from Afghanistan on President Trump’s Doha Agreement with the Taliban – and the chaos on the military in executing the ordered withdrawal.  Biden further claimed that the pro-American government in Kabul was strong enough – and sufficiently well equipped — to stave off Taliban efforts to overthrow the government.

On March 19, 2024, the issue of Afghanistan was again the subject of congressional hearings.  Testifying were two men closely associated with carrying out Biden’s orders.  They are General Mark Milley, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and General Frank McKenzie, former head of the U.S. Central Command.

They were both unequivocal on several of the most relevant key points.

  1. The decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan – essentially surrendering in the war – was made exclusively by President Biden on his own authority as Commander-in-Chief of the armed services.
  2. The American military leadership strongly advised against a complete withdrawal – and recommended that 2500 soldiers remain in Afghanistan to prevent the Taliban from toppling the pro-American government in Kabul in violation of the Doha Agreement.
  3. That the government in Kabul was unlikely to retain power in the face of the Taliban fighting forces – contrary to Biden’s claims at the time.  Although, they assumed it would take longer.
  4. That the Taliban had already broken virtually every provision of the Doha Agreement – a fact ignored by Biden when he made his decision.  In other words, Biden placed no conditions on his surrender.

Of all the failed military involvements of the past 75 years – Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Syria and a few lesser battles – Afghanistan stands out as the most humiliating … the most damaging to United States’ reputation and security … and the most boneheaded military decision by an American President.  That was made painfully obvious by the testimony of Milley and McKenzie.

Not only was the decision wrong, but it was a tactical and strategic disaster.  Biden pushed the plan, claiming that the Afghan government was able to carry on the fight with the Taliban.  The government in Kabul fell even before American troops — and America’s Afghan partners — were evacuated. 

That meant that the United States had to rely on the Taliban for security during the evacuation.  As a result, 13 American servicemen and women and 183 Afghan civilians were killed in a bombing at the airport, 11 more died in the panic to board planes and 10 more, including seven children, in a mistaken U.S. drone attack on a friendly civilian aid worker’s vehicle.

To deflect from his disastrous decision, Biden claimed he had no choice because President Trump had entered into that Doha Agreement with the Taliban to pull out American Troops.  Trump’s was a bad decision, but one which Biden was not obligated legally or morally to follow. 

In fact, Trump had delayed the implementation of American withdrawal because the Taliban were violating key elements of the agreement.  Contrary to the agreement, the Taliban continued to attack government forces … continued to shelter terrorists including the head of al Qaeda … planned to topple the Afghan government … and returned to their former oppressive policies, especially against women.

Milley specifically testified that prior to Biden’s decision to surrender in Afghanistan, the Taliban had violated virtually every provision of the agreement.  Despite the fact that Biden had total authority to reject Trump’s agreement – and the fact that the Taliban had violated it – Biden proceeded with HIS order to surrender to the Taliban anyway.

The withdrawal of American troops was complicated by the fact that the Biden State Department was slow to evacuate the thousands of Americans and the civilian Afghan friends who risked their and their families’ lives to help American troops – and who faced deadly retribution after the American military was gone.  Many of these folks held American visas and were promised to be taken out of Afghanistan. 

The State Department had also failed to establish bases in America and in foreign nations that would receive Afghan refugees – adding to the chaos and further inhibiting their removal.  As a consequence, thousands of Afghan friends and American citizens were left behind.  Many have since been hunted down and murdered by the Taliban.

The Biden legacy will long be remembered in those images of desperate men, women and children attempting to flee from Afghanistan – clinging to departing airplanes and putting their children in the arms of American servicemen.  For months and years after, individuals and organizations have been attempting to do what the Biden administration failed to do – to get the American friends out. 

Imagine that. Three years later and America’s friends are still there … still in peril …  or dead.  

In testifying before Congress in 2021 – shortly after the chaotic surrender, the Secretary of Defense said that the “circumstances” for the withdrawal of troops, American citizens and Afghan friends with visas were “anything but ideal.”  And yet, with that knowledge, Biden proceeded, anyway.

As with the Biden surrender, itself, the pro-Biden press failed to adequately cover the salient portions of the generals’ recent testimony.  They continue to spin their reporting according to Biden’s mendacious narratives – suggesting that the surrender in Afghanistan went as well as possible and that Biden was locked in by the Trump agreement.  Those are lies.

Because the press does not report fully and accurately on the key points of the hearing, the best way to get the full story is to view the testimony of Generals Milley and McKenzie.  For those interested, it can be found here on YouTube.  It is compelling in explaining in detail why the decision to withdraw was wrong in every way — fundamentally and tragically flawed.

Biden’s personal decision to surrender in Afghanistan will forever be a blight on his legacy. According to most polls, the American people believe Biden’s decision to surrender in Afghanistan was a huge and tragic mistake based on personal motivations bordering on political malfeasance.

While the actual surrender in Afghanistan was three years ago, the chain of negative, dangerous and even deadly outcomes continues to this day.

So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.

6 Comments

  1. FRANK STETSON

    “One of the most egregious decisions made by President Biden was the unilateral and unconditional surrender to the Taliban in Afghanistan.” Except this decision was made in 2020 by Trump, essentially leaving a poison pill for Biden to swallow. And swallow he did because he was hell bent to make his campaign pledge. He forgot to plan effectively.

    “Afghanistan stands out as the most humiliating … the most damaging to United States’ reputation and security … and the most boneheaded military decision by an American President.” Really? One President? Wasn’t Afghanistan under Bush, Obama, Trump, and Biden. While Biden was the last decider, the PROBLEM is clearly all of the above. And the problem wasn’t the leaving, the problem was our lengthy stay in Afghanistan. There would be no good way out, just like Vietnam.
    And I don’t even have to look to say Vietnam’s pullout was clearly worse. Embassy, helicopters, people hanging on fences, buildings, ladders, and such. A list of CIA collaborators left behind and 30,000 Vietnamese estimated slaughtered because of it. As Saigon falls, two marines become the last two ground deaths as they are killed in a rocket attack in the final days, sort of like the 13 in Afghanistan. One of them was there for two weeks only before he died. Then there were the remains of airmen Captain William Craig Nystul and First Lieutenant Michael John Shea that were never recovered as their aircraft got clipped by another in the final days.

    In the final days after the evacuation is started:
    4/4/75 A C-5 cargo plane carrying more than 300 persons, including children, escorts and U.S. Air Force crew members crashed near Saigon. 78 Vietnamese children and 50 adults are killed.
    4/8/75 A RVNAF pilot dropped bombs from his F-5 on the Presidential Palace in Saigon and defected to the North Vietnamese. The bombs did little damage but caused panic.
    4/27/75 The first PAVN rockets fell in downtown Saigon, killing 6 people
    4/30/75 Over 420 people awaiting evacuation were abandoned and presumed dead.
    5/15/75 Marines encountered heavy resistance and 18 were killed before their withdrawal from Cambodia. Twenty-three additional Americans were killed in a helicopter crash during the operation.

    58,000 of our kids die in Vietnam; 2,459 in Afghanistan. You got some balls on you to hate Biden so bad as to lie about the sacrifices of our kids in Vietnam to defend your right to say this crap. Your obsession with Democrats bad, Biden worse, is blinding. You have to know that while Biden made mistakes, Afghanistan is owned on both sides of the aisle with Biden just being there to play the last card in the deck. Like Vietnam, there are plenty of issues to go all around starting with why the hell were we there for so long to begin with. In Afghanistan, Obama and Trump were asleep at the wheel to begin with.

    Milley basically summarized that he “had “lots of regrets.” “In the broader sense, the war was lost,” which is the key takeaway. THE WAR WAS LOST, we needed to get out of there. Biden fucked up, but it was all fucked up before he came onto the scene. THE WAS WAS LOST said Milley.

    “At the end of 20 years, we the military helped build an army, a state, but we could not forge a nation. The enemy occupied Kabul, the overthrow of the government occurred and the military we supported for two decades faded away. That is a strategic failure.” He added, that the military performed well but I contend he lied: they did not build an army, there was no state, just a puppet democracy is a land that did not want it.

    “He noted insufficient intelligence which probably would cover from when Trump issued our defeat notice to the Taliban through the time of Biden’s ill-planned getaway. No one predicted the speed of the collapse. One real failure was in our training of Afghan defense. It obviously fell short of results.” Really? Everyone had two years to plan: Trump was on first, what was in his wallet? Obviously the Taliban planned better than either Trump or Biden. But Biden owns the evacuation no matter what plans Trump had or did not have. It’s on his watch.

    “The military also provided hope for 20 years to the Afghan people — we provided unprecedented opportunity to millions.”
    “Both Milley and McKenzie stated the decision to evacuate non-combatants came too late. McKenzie said: “I believe that the events of mid and late August 2021 were the direct result of delaying the initiation of the NEO for several months,” McKenzie said. “In fact, until we were in extremists, and the Taliban had overrun the country — as you are aware of, the decision to begin a NEO rests with the Department of State, not the Department of Defense. Despite this, we had begun positioning forces in the region as early as nine July, but we could do nothing.”

    Apparently, they had a two-weeks heads up from decision to departure. That’s the Biden screw up, and probably not listening to those who said “that’s too fast, too soon.” But why two weeks and not 1.5 years? From Trump’s announcement to Biden’s order they should have been planning.

    “I’ll be candid, I don’t know the exact number of Americans that were left behind, because the starting number was never clear,” he said. “Same is true of at-risk Afghans, SIVs [referring to a special visa program], the commandos, other Afghans that served with us — those numbers varied so widely that they were quite inaccurate.” 1.5 years to plan man…..

    Miley told the committee that in his opinion, the Taliban was going to start again whether we left or not: “I think the probability is greater than not that the Taliban would have reinitiated combat operations” in which case Biden should be seen as saving lives.

    Horist says: “Not only was the decision wrong, but it was a tactical and strategic disaster.” Hmm, I will give you Biden wrong on the tactical but Trump owns the strategic disaster. IMO. The evacuation was not a disaster. Thirteen dead is not a disaster. There were far more dead in Vietnam and that is seen as a successful evacuation under Nixon.

    Give me a break. War is hell, leaving whether you win or lose is hell. Almost in every case, there’s blame enough for everyone. For example, you list all these things Biden fucked up. Why didn’t the military or other experts seeing what you so clearly see from your armchair today ——- RESIGN IN PROTEST. If it’s all going to hell, as bad as you see it, why did they proceed? Even though this one probably does not fall under “duty to disobey,” they could quit like the brave general under Trump did.

    But the bottom line is Biden was correct to leave, IMO, and while Trump set the stage for 1.5 years of planning and recruitment by the Taliban, which Horist omits from his thoughts, Biden owns the evacuation plan and his timing tarnished the results. But the big picture is that by this time, the entire war was a clusterfuck from Bush to Biden with Obama and Trump owning a prominent portion of the mess. The sad part is that it started as such a righteous war —- get Bin Laden, diminish the Taliban. Once again, once we got into nation building, all was lost. The bad outcome from leaving would just be in degrees — we would have always lost something. Just like Vietnam. It was too little, too late.

    Reply
  2. larry Horist

    Frank Stetson … You never fail to double down on your propaganda bs. You are bald face lying when you say the Biden was locked in by Trump’s initial agreement with the Taliban. Biden had full power and authority to set aside that agreement for any reason. Fact: Trump did not implement the agreement — and delayed implementation — because the Taliban had broken virtually every provision of the Agreement — as the generals so clearly noted. Yes, the war was mishandled through several administrations, but the decision to surrender — especially at the time — was THE most significant mistake of the war. Biden ceded Afghanistan to the enemy in defiance of the advice of his military advisors and foreign allies. That one action meant that America lost all those lives, treasure and prestige in vain. Unlike you, most Americans saw it for what it was … and in my judgment that is why Biden’s favorability rating plummeted at that time. You either did not listen to the generals’ testimony or you just decided to carry on your disinformation bs.

    Reply
    • FRANK STETSON

      Mr Horist: how does one “double-down” on one’s first comments on the subject? You are a weird little fellow relying on old adages, old ideas. It’s not that you are old, you probably have always just thought old. But you continue to be a pugnacious prick, so just stop the name calling. I am not a propagandist, I did not lie here that you have proved, I am not a liar, my face is bald however, but I did not spread disinformation. You are correct, I did not listen to the generals. IF you did, perhaps that’s your issue. I, instead, downloaded the written transcripts of what was said. That’s why I used quotes a lot.

      I never said: “Biden was locked in by Trump’s initial agreement with the Taliban.” You concluded that for some strange reason. I said it was a “poison pill.” Why? I said: “Apparently, they had a two-weeks heads up from decision to departure. That’s the Biden screw up, and probably not listening to those who said “that’s too fast, too soon.” But why two weeks and not 1.5 years? From Trump’s announcement to Biden’s order, they should have been planning.”

      Perhaps I was not clear, let me further clarify, the “poison pill” that Biden cheerfully swallowed was giving the Taliban 1.5 years to plan for the occasion, to gain intelligence about our leaving without us correspondingly planning for 1.5 years and being surprised by a two-week heads-up for departure.

      I did not lie, you misinterpreted, and then called me names.

      You noted: “Trump did not implement the agreement — and delayed implementation — because the Taliban had broken virtually every provision of the Agreement — as the generals so clearly noted.” I could not find that; do you have the source? I just searched the transcript, perhaps you have a more complete version.

      As far as I can tell, Trump took office with over 10K US troops in Afghanistan. A year and a half later, he added 3K troops to just stay even and began talking to the Taliban without the Afghans. In 2019, Trump even suggested a Camp David meeting on 9/11, again, without the Afghans. In February of 2020, Trump signed the Doha agreement with the Taliban again leaving the Afghans out of the agreement. He even signed Taliban prisoner release of high value combatants without the Afghans even though the prisoners were in Afghan jails.

      The Trump agreement announced we would pull out BY May 2021. The Taliban agreed to play nice as long as the US met the dates. Trump also got 5K Taliban fighters released from Afghan prisons including all ranks of trained Taliban soldiers. The Taliban American hostage was not part of Trump’s deal, he left him behind to rot.

      Then Trump took his last year in office to reduce troop strength. President Trump ordered a series of drawdowns of U.S. troops. By June 2020, President Trump reduced U.S. troops in Afghanistan from 13K to a mere 4,500 in June announcing to the world, and the Taliban, that all US troops would be home by 12/25/2020. That’s in the record.

      Milley said: he got the Trump order to withdrawal all troops by 1/15/2021. A week later, he got a signed order to stop at 2,500 Troops which is Biden’s starting point. You really don’t define that as a poison pill? In it’s entirety, the Trump transition was probably the worst of any American President and the Afghanistan time bomb was already ticking away without much time left before it blew. Yeah, poison pill. Probably left a crap in the bathtub too.

      According to Biden, Trump provided no withdrawal plans, there was no Trump plan. Did you say you saw one? Got a source? The withdrawal was a few months away. Trump had to have a plan, right?

      Austin told Congress “The intelligence was clear that if we did not leave in accordance with that agreement, the Taliban would recommence attacks on our forces.”

      Milley in an interview said that “He also noted that in the fall of 2020, during the Trump administration, he advised that the U.S. maintain a force almost double the size, of 4,500 troops, in Afghanistan.”

      This is the poison pill that Biden cheerfully swallowed. He knew the Taliban knew, he knew that Trump left the Taliban know our plans, our timing, and the strongest they had been for years in Afghanistan already controlling much of the country. He was told to beef up the troops, but also assured he could pullout without much damage, direct or collateral, and he GUESSED he could squeeze it out it time. Bad decision. On Biden’s watch. He swallowed the pill cheerfully versus rebuilding troop strength, taking back land from the Taliban and putting more Americans in harm’s way. For what? That’s why 13 of our finest died, to get as many of the others out as we could and to protect us from sending more there to die. For what? As Milley said: the war was lost.

      The decision is a good one, IMO, the implementation was piss-poor. And I stand corrected, Milley said there WAS a PLAN but that two weeks was not enough time to plan the plan…..i.e. make it operational in a better way than the tragedy that transpired. I say BS to that —- you folks had 1.5 years to prepare. The Taliban prepared wisely, we apparently did not. And that’s both on Biden’s and Trump’s watch although Biden owns the NEO evacuation.

      You are correct that during Trump’s time, and after the Trump agreement, that the Taliban defied Trump, defied the agreement and attack Afghan forces in Helmand province. Trump responds with an ineffectual air strike. But I cannot find where Trump delayed the surrender deadline which would not be on his watch —- how convenient. Do you have evidence of that?

      In May of 2020, the DOD inspector general’s office says the U.S. cut troop levels in Afghanistan by more than 4,000, even though “the Taliban escalated violence further after signing the agreement.” He asked for troops and Trump continued the draw down.

      In June of 30, 2020, DoD inspector general’s office reported, “The Taliban did not appear to uphold its commitment to distance itself from terrorist organizations in Afghanistan. UN and U.S. officials reported that the Taliban continued to support al-Qaeda, and conducted joint attacks with al-Qaeda members against Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.” Trump continues the draw down.

      In September, VoA says: “Taliban attacks in three provinces across northern Afghanistan since Tuesday killed at least 17 people, including six civilians, and wounded scores of others even as a Taliban political team was negotiating peace with Afghan government representatives in Doha, Qatar.”

      McConnell notes we are in trouble, Rubio says it’s a Saigon-like situation shaping up. Milley announces the 2,500 stop point for the draw down to be completed in January 2021 or the next Presidential term. The peace talks break down and Taliban violence escalates. All on Trump’s watch.

      By December of 2020, the peace talks have a framework, the Taliban has integrated Al Quesadia into it’s ranks, the DoD indicates they never followed Trump’s agreement. I do not see where Trump delayed the agreement. He certainly did not delay the drawdown. And, I didn’t mention this before, but the agreement itself — is that really a great deal to begin with? Really?

      I stand by my term: poison pill. And that Biden cheerfully swallowed it and the NEO evacuation was totally on his watch and he screwed the pooch. HOWEVER, your concept of going back means a fuck of a lot more American kids dead than 13. Perhaps Biden should have dropped in a few thousand to make this departure as good as Saigon which, for the city, was pretty good. However, even there, as noted in my factual submission —- many more than 13 ultimately died.

      I don’t agree that Trump’s surrender was an egregious mistake. Our implementation was. Afghanistan was already lost. What you suggest is to take it back, one more time, give for the gipper and all that. Nope, we lost, we could not win, it was time to bring the best of our best back home. If Afghanistan does not want to be free, let it be, let it be.

      Reply
      • larry Horist

        My my …. Frankie has his undies in a bunch, eh? .. simply because he was exposed for being wrong in you statements. And I did suggest you were fibbing because I assume you know the truth and just do not to admit you are wrong. That is why ai label you response as propaganda. I have to laugh when accuse me of calling you names — which I generally avoid — at the same time you call me a “prick” — and use such barroom pejoratives and insults quite often in the past. That was about as far as I read of your loooooooong rant — which is further than most anyone else is likely to have read. I honestly cannot understand why you write so much for no discernible good purpose. It is like Tom characterizing his silly rating system as some sort of public service — even though he has not public being served. But if being the Larry Horist fictional doppelganger gives you a sense of self-worth, that is okay with me. I stand by my commentaries. Your obsessive and pathetic attempts to counter my every statement and opinion with half-assed information … low class insults and nasty sarcasm is an exercise in futility.

        Reply
  3. FRANK STETSON

    Horist: “According to most polls, the American people believe Biden’s decision to surrender in Afghanistan was a huge and tragic mistake based on personal motivations bordering on political malfeasance.”

    According to Gallop, it’s a little more nuanced than that simplistic view: “President Joe Biden announced his decision on April 14 to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan. As we would expect given the underlying negative views of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, surveys thereafter showed significant public support for Biden’s decision. An Ipsos survey conducted April 16-18 found 50% supported the idea of the U.S. bringing home “all of its troops from Afghanistan immediately,” while 27% opposed. The 2021 Chicago Council Survey, conducted July 7-26, found 70% support for the decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11. A Quinnipiac poll in May found 62% support. A Fox News poll conducted after the April announcement gave respondents two options — removing all troops or leaving some U.S. troops in Afghanistan for counterterrorism operations — and found 50% opted for the latter choice, while 37% said that all troops should be removed.”
    But after the pullout: “The NBC News poll shows 25% of Americans approve of the way Biden is handling the Afghanistan situation. The CBS News poll finds 74% say the removal of the troops has been handled badly by the U.S. and 67% say that Biden did not have a clear plan for evacuating American civilians. An Aug. 13-16 Morning Consult/Politico poll shows that 31% of registered voters approve of Biden’s handling of Afghanistan, while 57% say (at the time of the poll) that the withdrawal is not going well. And the USA Today/Suffolk poll shows a 27% approval rating for Biden’s handling of Afghanistan.”

    Mr. Horist: America seems to say what I do: right thing, wrong way. Therefore, America says your idea: wrong thing, wrong way.

    Gallop clearly agrees with you that the long-term affect is killing Biden’s overall approval rating but notes what you do not say: didn’t matter in the mid-terms now, did it.

    Gallop says less than 1% of Americans put Afghanistan at top of pile for issues important to them. FYI: this was done for mid-terms, not the 2024. I still think it’s relevant but you can check yourself:

    *https://news.gallup.com/opinion/polling-matters/354182/american-public-opinion-afghanistan-situation.aspx#:~:text=An%20Ipsos%20survey%20conducted%20April,11*

    Reply
  4. larry Horist

    Frank Stetson … Thanks for proving my point. as you note in your conflicting response, only one-quarter of the public TODAY thinks Biden did a good job with Afghanistan, Case closed. It appears your data and your mind are stuck in the past. The polls you noted were done at the time of the withdrawal more than three years ago — before all the facts were known. And you accuse me of living in the past….LMAO.

    Reply

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