For two decades, Americans spent time, money, and lives in Afghanistan based on the recommendations of establishment leaders and neoconservatives like Rep. Liz Cheney.
Much like President Joe Biden when he said “there’s going to be no circumstance where you’re going to see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy of the United States from Afghanistan,” these intelligence communities and military experts denied that the Taliban would immediately take over the country. They claimed the Afghan army was equipped and trained to hold off the terrorists at least for a few months. They also lied about what exactly was going on in the decades-long war.
A U.S. intelligence report in June concluded that the Taliban could overrun Afghanistan just six months following the government’s collapse. This prediction, the Wall Street Journal noted, “aligned more closely with the analysis that had been generated by the U.S. military.” A more recent intelligence report from last week suggested a tighter timeline but still claimed it would be 90 days before the Taliban took full control of the capital city.
The Taliban’s return to Kabul, however, took just a single weekend while Biden was away from the White House and relaxing at Camp David.
Just three weeks before the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, top U.S. General Mark Milley reassured reporters that “the future of Afghanistan is squarely in the hands of the Afghan people” and that “the strategic momentum seems to be with the Taliban, but the Afghan security forces are consolidating their forces to protect population centers.”
“They are adjusting forces to consolidate forces into the provincial capitals and Kabul. It remains to be seen what will happen. … I don’t think the endgame is yet written,” Milley concluded.
In a congressional hearing with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in June, Milley claimed that he was “very comfortable that security at the Kabul airport will be maintained” and repeated that “no provinces have fallen to the Taliban yet.”
“There’s a 300,000 plus or minus security force consisting of the army and the police forces for the Afghans. We have not done train, advise, assist in quite some time down at the tactical level, so they have been out there shouldering the burden of that fight for well over a year,” Milley said before claiming that the Biden administration had a “deliberate, responsible draw down, a retrograde, to bring out US military forces.”
When discussing potential future outcomes, Milley, in the same hearing that he said he wants to “understand white rage,” once again assured the legislators that “an outright takeover of the Taliban” was “unlikely but possible.”
Even before this year, Milley was confident that the “[Afghan] army and … police force have been very, very effective in combat against the insurgents every single day,” as he stated in 2013 about Kabul. As Josiah Lippincott wrote for The Federalist:
He was lying. More than 60,000 Afghan police and military were killed during our occupation compared to just 42,000 alleged Taliban. Afghanistan’s military and government were utterly corrupt. American officials, in private admitted that at least 40 percent of the $103 billion in reconstruction funds spent in Afghanistan went into the hands of insurgents, Taliban, and corrupt ‘allied’ warlords.
As soon as the world discovered that the predictions of Milley and others could not be further from the truth, it was too late. But that didn’t stop him from agreeing to revise his assessment from June that there was a “medium risk of terrorist groups reconstituting in Afghanistan within two years.”
Secretary State Antony Blinken, who previously suggested that the Taliban’s talks with communist China could stall the terrorists from issuing a takeover, also eventually admitted even though the U.S. poured billions of resources into the Afghan military, the Taliban advancement “did happen more rapidly than we anticipated.”
Cheney, who puts the “forever” in “forever war,” also avoided addressing the failures of the decades-long war in Afghanistan to blame Biden for not listening to the same military officials who got everything wrong.
“I think that he ignored the advice of his military leaders,” she said.
It’s clear that the U.S. intelligence community and so-called experts failed to accurately report and predict the Taliban’s advancement and inevitable takeover. They may try to “revise” their predictions or even shift blame to other officials but the truth is they all should be held accountable for their actions.