As this is written, at least 13 US troops including Marines and a Navy Medic have been killed in suicide bombings in and around the Kabul airport in Afghanistan attributed to an offshoot of the Islamic State.
It may get worse, especially as many Americans will be left behind and tens of thousands of Afghans who were allied with the United States may well be butchered.
Amid the death, destruction, a number of prominent Republicans are already clamoring for President Joe Biden’s resignation or, failing that, his impeachment.
There is no real chance for an impeachment given that Biden’s Democratic party controls both houses of Congress and, therefore, all key committees in both the House and Senate.
Moreover, any impeachment under current conditions, even if it went forward, would have far-reaching consequences as it would expose massive failures in the National Security Council and State Department, the failed intelligence agencies and the military.
The core of the problem was the foolish decision by Biden to prematurely remove US troops based on a faulty deal cut between the Taliban, the State Department and the NSC. That deal required the US to leave behind only a skeletal military crew of no more than 700 personnel, confined to the Kabul airport.
Apparently whatever assurances that were made to allow passage to the airport (if there were any assurances) were violated right from the start, as the Taliban allegedly went around killing former officials, translators, newsmen and others, and shooting up Afghans trying to go to the airport, killing men, women and children.
None of this dissuaded the Biden administration from strictly enforcing the “deal” even though the level of risk was rising exponentially.
Making matters worse, the Defense Department – which these days is run by an ex-General – and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who all knew with absolute certainty that the evacuation plan was a gross mistake, never attempted to persuade Biden, the NSC or the State Departement to change the plan.
Indeed, many in Washington see the performance of the Pentagon as craven and accuse it of causing the death of valiant young military personnel doing their best to save lives by evacuating Americans and their allies in Kabul.
Indeed, the first indication that a disaster was in the making was when the Defense Department ordered Bagram to be abandoned in the middle of the night in early July. As Americans furtively left the base under cover of darkness, they made sure to turn off the electricity and yank out the radars and communication gear at the heart of the Bagram base.
The Afghans were never told and they were left without any support, even without keys to the vehicles left behind.
Not reported, of course, is what is happening outside of Kabul, for the simple reason there is no reporting in those places.
The scope of the disaster is compounded by a steady stream of misleading information from Washington. Just to cite one example among hundreds: the White House claimed 70,000 (Americans?) had been evacuated from Kabul; Vice President Kamala Harris, in Vietnam, raised the number to 80,000.
The number is dramatically fewer than these undocumented claims.
The president has been unable to explain himself adequately, largely because it is apparent he is impaired intellectually. It became so bad on Wednesday, August 26, that the President’s microphone was turned off so that any question he tried to answer – there was just one question – would not be heard by anyone else.
Then he turned his back on the press and walked away.
The 25th Amendment to the US Constitution provides for presidential succession in case of impairment defined as either/or physical or intellectual impairment. The key provision is Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, which outlines under what circumstances the vice president should assume the powers and duties of the office of the acting president.
Congress has not set up any separate body to judge the health or the mental state of Biden, leaving it to the Biden cabinet to initiate steps to remove Biden and put in his place an “Acting President.”
The Washington “problem” is that Vice President Harris is widely regarded as lacking in judgment and experience. Thus the Democrats are in a dilemma: if the Party pushes to put Harris in charge, they are stuck with her for the future.
Unfortunately, at least so far, Harris has shown little acumen for leadership and lacks popular support. But, on the other hand, she is not mentally impaired or senile.
For the Democrats, trying to hang onto Biden may be far worse than going with Harris, although that is by no means a foregone conclusion.
But Biden’s consistent blundering and incoherence augur for increasing problems down the road, since trying to hide the president under the rug and only trot him out under controlled conditions is proving to be a failed strategy.
In addition, as Biden is put under pressure and tension, he crosses a threshold from rationality to anger, and that anger has fearful consequences in a nuclear weapons world.
A key advantage for getting Biden to step aside – at least “temporarily” – is that the Democrats can avoid an inevitable bloodletting, exposing the massive incompetence that has characterized the Afghanistan pull-out.
There are those at the NSC, State Department, CIA and Defense Department who would desperately want to avoid exposure, and one sure-fire way to put off the otherwise inevitable is to throw the president over the cliff.
Vice President Harris should be thinking about getting back to Washington from Vietnam as fast as she can. She may want to separate herself insofar as possible from the Afghan debacle, although that will be difficult since she claimed (probably erroneously) that she was part of the Afghan decision-making process.
She will need to sing a different song.