The past few days have been among the most painful in over half a century for the United States on the international stage. The fall of Kabul to the Taliban following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is a humiliation for the world’s superpower. It may take decades before America’s standing is restored, and faith in American leadership is fully revived.
The fallout from Afghanistan will exceed even that which followed the end of the Vietnam War, not only in terms of the damage to America’s self-confidence but also the threat it will pose to its security. The Taliban will inevitably turn their country once again into a safe haven for al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups to strike against the U.S. Nato has also been undermined. The retreat from Afghanistan has weakened the alliance, and squandered nearly 20 years of collective effort by its 30 members.
As commander in chief, Joe Biden carries ultimate responsibility for a decision that will haunt America for a generation or more. His legacy will be one of failure, exceedingly poor judgment and staggering incompetence. His advisers, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, must also shoulder some of the blame.
Upon entering office, Biden’s team promised to “restore America’s credibility” following the supposed unpredictability of the Trump years. Instead they now look like a bunch of amateurs, outplayed by the Taliban, a movement frequently depicted as living in the Dark Ages. The handling of Afghanistan has been so bad that even Biden’s cheerleaders in the Left-wing U.S. media, from CNN to The Washington Post, have loudly denounced him.
Unfortunately, the Afghanistan debacle is not an aberration for the Biden presidency. It exemplifies the Biden approach. On practically every foreign policy front, the Democratic presidency is driving U.S. decline.
On a visit to London this past week, where I met with British officials and MPs, I was struck by the tremendous disillusionment expressed with the Biden administration, a sentiment shared by many of their counterparts in the European Union, especially in eastern and central Europe. As one senior British politician put it, Biden makes Barack Obama, whose own advisers famously boasted of America “leading from behind”, look like wartime leader FDR by comparison.
From Biden’s disgraceful surrender to Moscow over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, to his shameless appeasement of the Iranian regime in his doomed efforts to revive the flawed and failed nuclear deal, this is a president who kowtows to America’s enemies, while kicking U.S. allies such as Israel and Poland. Even the special relationship is under threat as the White House puts a U.S.-U.K. trade deal on ice while arrogantly lecturing Brexit Britain over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The key beneficiaries of Biden’s weak-kneed approach have been China and Russia, who are no doubt relishing the disarray in Washington and cheering the sight of U.S. personnel fleeing the Afghan capital. Both Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping have grown stronger since Biden entered the Oval Office. They sense an opportunity in his weakness, and grow more assertive by the day.
Biden’s presidency has been a monumental disaster at home, too. From its appalling handling of the massive border crisis to saddling the American people with trillions of dollars of additional debt, it has lost any real credibility. While undermining American power globally, the Biden-Harris administration, the most Left-wing in U.S. history, has presided over a surge in illegal border crossings, with more than one million migrants entering the United States this year through the southern border with Mexico. The de facto open-borders approach of the Biden White House is so extreme that even the most socialist and liberal of European governments would dare not go down the same path.
The tragedy in Afghanistan should and will be a wake-up call for America’s allies. Biden isn’t leading the free world. He is actively eroding it. It will be up to the next president to clean up the mess, and restore U.S. leadership on the global stage.
This piece originally appeared in The Telegraph.