With great restraint, I’ve read Bob Ziel’s apologies for ex-President Trump since the 2016 primaries, e.g. Trump’s surly obnoxious behavior is really just being a typical guy from Queens, like Bob. Space does not permit worse examples.

Jim Key

Jim Key

Comparing President Biden’s competency (which must include his administration) with Trump’s is laughable. Space does not permit a thorough comparison. One good example is Trump’s immigration policy that separated children from their parents at the border without keeping accurate records. Trump didn’t care if families were reunited or not.

Ziel, in his latest letter, focused on the evacuation from Afghanistan. First, Biden inherited an eviscerated collection of federal agencies, including Justice, State and Defense, as well as idiotic policies. Trump and his cronies, like senior policy advisor Stephen Miller, organized a meeting in February 2020 with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar. An agreement was signed. There was a stipulation that the U.S. would withdraw its troops if the Taliban negotiated with the Afghan government on running the country. Eventually, a May 1, 2021 date became a commitment for U.S. troop withdrawal, later changed to Aug. 31.

The root cause of this mess was starting any war without a clear goal and exit strategy. President Bush started the war in the wake of the 9/11 attack to run al-Qaida out of Afghanistan and capture or kill Osama bin Laden. This was a well-defined and justified goal. Our military achieved the first part relatively quickly, then mission creep set in, as happens to so many government programs. The goal morphed into creating a democratically governed Middle East in our image. It took 11 years to kill bin Laden. The war could have logically ended here, if not sooner. Our goal then became fuzzy with no thought to duration or an exit plan.

Ezra Klein, in a New York Times article Aug. 28, makes some excellent points. The criticism we see now on Biden’s planning an evacuation is really the pro-war crowd attempting to obscure their failures. “The true alternative to withdrawal is endless occupation.” Biden knew this and had to choose between two very bad options.

“Imagine that the Biden administration began rapidly withdrawing personnel and power months earlier. A vote of no-confidence ripples through Afghan politics, demoralizing the existing government and emboldening the Taliban. Not knowing which side to choose, the Afghan soldiers quickly cut deals with the Taliban. As the last US troops leave, the Taliban overwhelms the country and Biden is blamed.”

Other major acts of the Trump administration sandbagged any hope of a speedy or graceful withdrawal. First, Trump and Miller intentionally slowed down the State Department’s attempt to expedite Afghan SIV visas. Olivia Troye, a homeland security advisor to former Vice President Pence, added that Miller and Trump had “watchdogs in place” in key agencies and departments, who in turn “made an already cumbersome SIV process even more challenging,” bringing it to a halt.

Our intelligence officials were astounded at the speed of the Taliban takeover and the complete capitulation of security forces. Afghan soldiers simply laid down their weapons and greeted the Taliban. Why on earth would they do this, given their bloodshed alongside American troops? For money. Some of the Afghan soldiers had not been paid for six to nine months. The Taliban paid them off. Where did the Taliban get the money? I think you need not look any further than a backroom deal in Doha.

So, Bob, if you want credibility, quit cutting and pasting the latest Republican right-wing talking points and get your own information. At one time, you pretended to be a journalist.

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