US Nightmare: Afghanistan is Saigon, Dien Bien Phu, Suez, & Dunkirk combined
WASHINGTON, DC: The unfolding spectacle of the Western powers in full retreat from Kabul is an unmitigated disaster of truly historic proportions. Comparisons to Saigon, while valid, do little to underscore the seminal and monumental tectonic events that have just occurred. Suez, Dien Bien Phu, and Dunkirk would round out the explanation. A willful humiliation of the NATO alliance was carried out in the most amateurish and incompetent manner possible. This is a debacle of the ages that will seriously harm American prestige and alliances for decades to come.
The unfolding disaster in Afghanistan is a combination of Saigon 1975, Dien Bien Phu 1954, the Suez crisis of 1956, and the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1941. It is a direct replay of the withdrawal from Iraq that spawned the rise of ISIS. Joe Biden has shaken the faith of our allies. Emboldened our enemies in China and the radical Islamist world. While leaving Afghanistan to fall into butchery.
It is a disastrous, cynical and cowardly retreat from our responsibilities and obligations as a great power. It portends a decline of American influence and the emerging of a much more dangerous world.
They are terrified in Taiwan
So much so that former Blackwater head Erik Prince has suggested Taiwan try to purchase nuclear weapons from India or Pakistan. America can’t really be trusted as an ally anymore. It wouldn’t be surprising if Saudi Arabia now tried to do the same. That is if Israeli bombs over Iran don’t strike first in the coming months.
The American collapse of will in Afghanistan has shaken the faith of our alliance partners. From Japan to South Korea to Germany to Great Britain. From Australia to Taiwan to Lithuania, those who counted on American resolve are now justifiably less than steadfast.
How do you think the Baltic states and the Ukrainians feel about American commitments today? Joe Biden has squandered every last ounce of American moral authority and trust with willful incompetence and callous indifference to the reality on the ground.
It is a seismic shift in the international order. A vacuum of leadership from a world power at a crucial juncture. An abdication of common sense, responsibility, judgment, and vision with cataclysmic results.
Our European allies are outraged
Deutsche Welle reported outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel as saying:
“This is an extremely bitter development. Bitter, dramatic and terrifying. It is a terrible development for the millions of Afghans who want a more liberal society”. Merkel said she believed the US decision to press ahead with the withdrawal was taken for “domestic political reasons” and is partly to blame.
Merkel’s likely successor as Chancellor CDU chairman Armin Laschet was even harsher toward Biden.
“It’s the biggest debacle that NATO has suffered since its creation and it’s a change of era that we are confronted with,” he said in Euro News.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier saw the Biden administration-led pullout as “shameful.” “The images of desperation at Kabul airport are shameful for the political West,” the president said.
The British are angry in their scorn for Joe Biden.
“Joe Biden has come under fire from senior British politicians over his defense for withdrawing forces from Afghanistan, with [Labour Party chief] Keir Starmer calling it a ‘catastrophic error of judgment,’” UK newspaper The Guardian reported on Tuesday.
The New York Times reported that Biden’s disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal has ‘rattled’ the UK political establishment.
“In Britain, the chaotic departure from Afghanistan has drawn comparisons” to the “1956 Suez crisis, in which a humiliated Britain was forced to pull out of Egypt, having failed to dislodge its nationalist leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser.”
UK’s former Veterans Affairs Minister, Johnny Mercer, who personally served as an artillery officer in Afghanistan, said that his country had “chosen defeat.” The hasty withdrawal was “shameful,” “sad,” “humiliating for the British army,” and a “tragedy for the Afghan people.”
The Fall of Saigon
Comparisons to the fall of Saigon in 1975 are very appropriate, for a number of reasons. A long running war that was no longer supported at home. A corrupt government propped up by American aid. A decades long policy of not invading North Vietnam and solving the problem at its root in Hanoi.
More precisely, though, the South Vietnamese army was fighting fairly well for several years after the last American combat soldiers left. It was only after the post-Watergate Democrat Congress cut off all aid to South Vietnam that the collapse came.
After the cut-off of funding and without American air support the army collapsed. The NVA launched coordinated attacks across the country and the government crumbled in weeks. America scrambled to get its citizens out of Saigon with the famous helicopter exit from a besieged American embassy. Tens of thousands of Vietnamese who worked with us were left behind.
In Afghanistan the retreat from Bagram Air Base signaled the beginning of the end.
Just like the cut-off of aid to Vietnam, which Biden supported in 1975, the decision to leave Bagram was irresponsible, feckless, and deliberate. The results were not just predictable. Biden undid 20 years of American efforts and a trillion taxpayer dollars in 11 days. It didn’t have to happen, at all.
We had 2500 troops at Bagram. NATO had another 10000. The Turks had another 3000 troops at Hamid Karzai airport. Our allies wanted to maintain a presence. They knew what would happen.
Biden steamrollered them in the spring and then evacuated Bagram Air Base in the dead of night. Leaving tens of thousands of American citizens and 80,000 or more Afghan allies to the tender mercies of the Taliban.
This was not how it was supposed to be
The Trump deal was for conditions-based withdrawal based upon a deal for a transition to a national unity government between all parties. Yes that meant a government that included the Taliban. Biden completely neglected that part. Withdrawing before a deal was reached. Without protecting our citizens. translators and allies first.
Certainly, the military should never have been withdrawn until every American had been evacuated. Until every Afghan ally had been moved to another country. Then and only then should the Military and air cover presence been drawn down, if at all. The hasty, ill-planned exit from Bagram was the trigger for the collapse of Afghanistan. From there the Taliban offensive began. Without American opposition.
So we end up with a Saigon-style debacle with 10000 to 40000 Americans held hostage behind enemy lines. Both in Kabul and throughout Afghanistan. In Herat and Kandahar, and Helmand and Mazar al-Sharif. How do Americans get past 50 Taliban checkpoints? For Afghans, it is a suicide mission. The Afghanistan debacle makes the fall of Saigon seem like small potatoes.
The lessons of Dien Bien Phu
As we speak 6000 American and 3000 Turkish troops hold Hamid Karzai Airport. A one runway lifeline to the outside world. Easily shut down with mortar fire. Surrounded by higher ground and Taliban checkpoints. A tactical disaster in the absence of a logical strategic objective.
Like the French, at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 the Americans are surrounded in Kabul. With an impossible mission. At the mercy of a hostile Taliban on the verge of total victory. Delivered to them on a platter by Joe Biden. With a side order of abject international humiliation for the United States.
At Dien Bien Phu French forces were inserted into a valley surrounded by Vietnamese insurgents. They were defeated decisively by Vo Nguyen Giap, who would go on to defeat American forces 31 years laters. Their tactical position was exactly the same as American forces at Kabul airport. Surrounded. At the mercy of the Taliban.
The fallout from Dien Bien Phu was the loss of French prestige as a major international power. As well as their withdrawal from Indochina The following year the Algerian war of independence began. In 1956 it was the Suez crisis. By the time Algeria declared independence in 1960 millions had died. France was a much-diminished power. An overextended French colonial empire saw the demise of its influence on the world stage as a result of a series of self-inflicted cataclysmic events.
The Suez crisis of 1956 is a powerful example.
In 1956 Great Britain and France seized the Suez Canal in response to Gamel Abdel Nasser’s attempt to nationalize it. Working in concert with Israel, British and French forces expected American support. When Eisenhower refused to help, the invasion collapsed. Britain and France were humiliated by their ally, the United States. They were finished as world powers of consequence.
Though each is a consequential player in the Nato alliance, they have never regained their former footing on the world stage. The current crisis in Afghanistan threatens to do the same thing to the United States. Its ability to function will be diminished, its capability will be questioned. Like the Suez crisis in 1956, power relations in the world may shift away from a dynamic that favors the United States.
The effect on US policy and interest will be calamitous
Already British politicians are saying they must band with Japan, South Korea, Australia, and Germany. To not be so dependent on the United States to lead them. Indeed, watch for Germany and Western Europe to make an accommodation with Russia and China in the wake of Afghanistan. Watch for the Baltic States to do the same. If you are the Ukrainian government you have little faith in American assurances anymore.
The government of Taiwan you take American assurances with a grain of salt and prepare to make other arrangements for your defense. Japan and South Korea will do the same. Japan could have 100 hydrogen bombs from the plutonium in their breeder nuclear reactors in a matter of several years.
Kabul is like Dunkirk, only landlocked.
In 1941 300,000 British and French troops were trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk. In 2021 40000 Americans and 80,000 Afghan associates are trapped in Afghanistan. From Kabul to Kandahar to Herat to Jalalabad. Every effort was made to get the troops off the beach in 1941. In 2021 in Kabul, with the Taliban, it is as if the British asked the Nazis to help them evacuate the beaches.
Dunkirk in Kabul is liable to start looking like Tehran in 1979, only with thousands of American hostages instead of 52. The Afghan debacle has managed to draw comparisons to the slaughter at Gallipoli and the senseless massacre of the Crimean war. There are too many historical tragedies to compare them to. All of them hold the same historical lesson.
The fall of Kabul is a devastating blow to the Biden Administration.
It is a catastrophic setback to the United States as a great power. With all the negative impact of the fall of Saigon, the disaster at Dien Bien Phu, the loss of prestige and influence of the Suez Crisis, and the disastrous route and evacuation of Dunkirk. It mirrors the pullout of Iraq, the rise of Isis, and the slaughter of the Yazidis. Emboldening our enemies, weakens us at home and abroad, and destroys the concept of America as a reliable ally.
It portends the end of a long period of American influence in the world. Decimates the belief that Joe Biden is capable of being President. Questions our ability as a nation to be trusted. Posing a distinct challenge for the future of America as the predominant power on the world stage at a time when our ability to lead was never more important.
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