“America First.” That clearly is President Biden’s policy priority in ending two decades of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan.
“America First.” Should Biden start printing up campaign caps and t-shirts? That would make some folks crazy, wouldn’t it?
“Joe Biden’s ‘America First’ Rally, Tonight in D.C.!” It would have to be a virtual rally, of course, in the interest of public health. Or maybe organizers could mandate masks, all emblazoned with “America First.” That would be funnier than Ted Lasso.
But sadly, there’s nothing funny about what’s going on, and what’s going to go on, in Afghanistan. Yes, the pace of evacuations has risen to “warp speed.” (That term might make some folks crazy, too, right?) But Biden’s decision not to extend the August 31 deadline for U.S. withdrawal inevitably means thousands of our Afghan friends and their families will be slaughtered. Inevitably. Hey, just collateral damage, right? “America First.”
“America First.” That approach was evident even in the way Biden ordered and structured his remarks to the nation Tuesday afternoon. Yeah, he got around to Afghanistan, but only after he first touted the advancement of his $3.5 trillion social spending budget structure in the House.
Then he turned toward Afghanistan, and turned away from the truth. “We continue to be on track to accomplish our mission,” he said. False. Not if our mission includes saving the lives of thousands of Afghans we had promised to protect. And that is, or at least was, a major component of that mission.
Here’s what remains true. “The Taliban are calling the shots, and there’s nothing we can do.” That assessment is from American intelligence analyst Robert Baer. “Nothing we can do.” The United States should never find itself in a position of strategic impotence.
The president is not wrong about everything. He’s right to insist on an American exit. He’s right when he says he will not send Americans to die in senseless foreign wars. He’s right when he says he will focus tightly on tangible threats to American security. He’s right when he says we have to get out of the “nation building” business.
Did anyone really think Afghanistan was ever going to be anything other than Afghanistan?
But keeping our promises is part of maintaining American interests and security.
“America First”? Here’s my view of “America First.” It’s the simplistic, sophomoric province of little minds, whether it’s printed on a red t-shirt or a blue one. We’re very good at “simplistic” these days.
“America First” cannot rationally always mean “America Only.”