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Why Joe Biden’s Afghanistan Speech Was a Disaster

Biden Afghanistan Speech
President Joe Biden arrives to delivers remarks to essential and frontline workers and military families attending the Fourth of July celebration, Sunday, July 4, 2021, on the South Lawn of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Katie Ricks)

President Joe Biden addressed the nation on the unfolding tragedy in Afghanistan. He was unrepentant. “I Do Not Regret My Decision,” he declared.

His speech did little to resolve the concerns a bipartisan array of Americans have for two reasons: First, he relied on a dishonest strawman and, second, the Afghan withdrawal contradicts the reasons he cited to justify his policy.

First, the strawman: “I cannot and will not ask our troops to fight on endlessly in another country’s civil war,” he declared.

But, no one was asking that, and it is not what American troops were doing.

Over the past five years, the Pentagon had reduced the American presence to under 10,000 troops. The presence was a deterrent and led to few American casualties.

Indeed, over that period, far fewer Americans have died in Afghanistan than residents of Baltimore have died in automobile accidents.

Past efforts to nation-building were an expensive and misguided mistake, but not the American military presence which had evolved into a mission set not dissimilar from what the Pentagon maintains in Korea.

Biden, like President Donald Trump before him, also justified his desire to withdrawal in order to “face threats of today…not yesterday’s.”

The problem here is that he accomplishes neither. He is right that terrorism is a worldwide phenomenon. President George W. Bush and NATO allies ordered forces into Afghanistan in order to deny Al Qaeda a safe haven from which they could again attack the American homeland or Europe. What Biden now does in the name of being forward-looking is to create a vacuum into which terrorist groups will again sink root.

Deterrence will be difficult. After all, the Taliban believes they defeated the United States and will not take future threats from the Oval Office seriously. Rather than move on from a past threat, Biden resurrects them.

As to future threats, Biden—like Trump—worries about China. (Both Biden and Trump may also say they worry about Russia, but the sum of both their policies—both bullying Ukraine and Biden allowing Nord Stream-2 to move forward—empower the Kremlin). Rather than enhance America’s position against China, however, Biden has hemorrhaged it.

If Americans are tired of defending Afghanistan as Biden claims, should Beijing believe they will stand up to defend Taiwan? By enabling China to advance its interests in Afghanistan, Biden is also enables it to cut-off India and other American allies from Central Asia.

Simply put, If Biden considers surrendering Afghanistan to the Taliban to be a forward-looking strategy as his speech implies, then the worst is yet to come. Biden’s incompetence now risks the entire post-World War II liberal order.  God help the United States.

Michael Rubin is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a 19FortyFive Contributing Editor. 

Written By

Now a 1945 Contributing Editor, Dr. Michael Rubin is a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Dr. Rubin is the author, coauthor, and coeditor of several books exploring diplomacy, Iranian history, Arab culture, Kurdish studies, and Shi’ite politics, including “Seven Pillars: What Really Causes Instability in the Middle East?” (AEI Press, 2019); “Kurdistan Rising” (AEI Press, 2016); “Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes” (Encounter Books, 2014); and “Eternal Iran: Continuity and Chaos” (Palgrave, 2005).



  1. Angry Lobster

    August 16, 2021 at 10:25 pm

    And God help Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, the EU, Israel, and other American allies around the world.

  2. formwiz

    August 16, 2021 at 10:39 pm

    The lying dogfaced pony soldier has always been cut and run. Standing up to adversity has never been his long suit; relying on the protection of the Secret Service to keep him from getting a smack in the mouth when he insulted a citizen with an honest question or criticism has.

    Now it comes home to roost.

  3. scf

    August 16, 2021 at 10:39 pm

    Why the heck do you keep going on about Trump? Trump is not president and had nothing to do with what happened the last week. Grow up. Biden owns this disaster.

  4. A. Landmesser

    August 17, 2021 at 2:45 am

    We know Biden believes those who question his medical policies, the election results, or his policies in general to be domestic terrorists. Our vaunted military elites selected by the Obamaista informed us our real challenge was climate change and race.

    This must have been what Rome was like around 450AD.

  5. Boomer Conservative ????

    August 17, 2021 at 6:59 am

    We need a Forever War for Israel ?????️‍⚧️?️‍?

  6. Jim Smith

    August 17, 2021 at 9:27 am

    I assume some 27 year old staffer wrote the speech, it was quickly reviewed by some assistant vice undersecretary at State, and then put on the teleprompter. Those in actual leadership positions are too busy practicing their gender pronouns.

  7. Rick

    August 17, 2021 at 11:41 am

    “First, he relied on a dishonest strawman” ??????

    For ordinary Americans whose jobs and paycheques don’t depend on the sufferance of the Biden Department of Defense: Biden boldly lied his ass off for the entire 18 minute speech.

    You know it’s an excuse and deflection when you conclude the crap and then turn and run from anyone asking a question.

    Why wouldn’t a highly paid US bureaucrat like the author notice that Biden repeatedly used the excuse he was handcuffed by Trump’s policy and deadline? But had no problem cancelling and in fact completely reversing Trump’s policies and plans at the southern border, allowing hundreds of thousands of criminal illegal aliens to enter, while 20% of them are infectious with Covid and yet are shipped all over the US.

    Is that the kind of missed analysis of the Biden speech at least partially explain why Bush went into Iraq when the author was an advisor to that administration?

  8. Doctor Mist

    August 17, 2021 at 1:47 pm

    “ What Biden now does in the name of being forward-looking is to create a vacuum into which terrorist groups will again sink root.”

    Biden is, for some reason, not worried about foreign terrorist groups, but rather the so-called domestic terrorists (i.e. the opposition) and wants the army to focus on that.

  9. Jack Kennedy

    August 19, 2021 at 2:56 am

    Joe Joe Joe ………. what are you going to do about the …….
    Biden Hostage Crisis coming right at YOU & America ????

  10. Gregory Casey

    August 25, 2021 at 12:36 pm

    Did not Rubin realize that at the time he penned this piece, the Taliban were already at the Gates of Kabul?
    Is Rubin so detached from reality that he does not know what’s been happening in Afghanistan over the course of the past 19 months? ever since Pompeo, guided by sTrumpet inked the accord between the US and the Taliban that guaranteed a US exit by the 1st of May 2021? almost 4 months ago!!
    Apart from the mechanics of withdrawal, does not Rubin realize the truly staggering shakedown of American taxpayers that’s been conducted in Afghanistan by the MIC of the course of the past 20 years? We know of the $2.25 Trillion that’s been acknowledged to have been spent but how much more is yet to be disclosed to have been frittered away in Afghanistan knowing that the Pentagon has already acknowledge the loss of $21 Trillion in the black hole that represents American Foreign Policy? And all of this while people live in tents on sidewalks and under bridges in the wealthiest country in the world!
    Time for Mr Rubin to straighten his eyesight and his priorities!

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