by Curt Mills
Friday, 20
August 2021
Idea
17:00

Joe Biden is stealing Republican thunder

Trump campaigned on ending forever wars — Biden actually ended one
by Curt Mills
More Trumpian than Trump? (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

Donald Trump completed his capture of the Republican Party on May 27, 2016 in Anaheim, California — by insulting “a guy, nobody ever heard of this guy.” “I shouldn’t even do this because I build up his name,” Trump told the Golden State crowd. “His name is Bill Kristol.”

“I don’t understand,” the future president said of the Weekly Standard founder. “Why do you keep putting the guy on television who’s been proven to be wrong for so many years? First of all, he wants the war in Iraq. He wants Iraq. All the guy wants to do is kill people.”

Today, Donald Trump agrees with Bill Kristol.  

“Biden’s decision to withdraw by an arbitrary date (originally September 11) was Trump-like,” Kristol said this week on the events unfolding in Afghanistan. “The feckless and incompetent execution was Trump-like. Blaming the Afghans is Trump-like.”

But Trump is on his side. Apparently channelling his inner neoconservative, the former President said: “Our country has never been so humiliated.” Ending the U.S.’s longest war, he says, “blows Vietnam away.” Setting aside the fact that his administration initiated this process with the Taliban, it is worth noting what Axios reporter Jonathan Swan once said of Donald Trump: he’s “a day to day player.” And what Trump says today still matters — which could be a problem for the former president himself and, more importantly, for the movement he ushered into politics. 

Bernie Sanders-to-Donald Trump crossover voters were real (they have their own Wikipedia, after all), and during his rise to power, Trump very much drew on the paleoconservative movement that dissented from the Republican Party of George W. Bush. Trump succeeded in bringing together a coalition of these two disparate groups based upon his isolationist foreign policy stances. Before his own meteoric comeback, Tucker Carlson wrote in January 2016 that “Donald Trump is shocking, vulgar and right.” Today, Trump no longer shocks anyone, isn’t in the right, and accordingly, appears to only retain a flailing vulgarity.   

A Fox News anchor said on Thursday night that the “big picture was not whether we got out of the war. The big picture is how we got out of the war.” Actually, by any reasonable definition of scope, the bigger picture is clearly whether we got out of the longest war in the history of the country — and we did, under the leadership of Democratic President Joe Biden. 

You might not hear a peep about this reality out of Congressional Republicans on the Hill. Some are relieved and actively rooting for a neocon recrudescence. Others are harping on about refugees — probably also not the greatest look. The fact is, in securing an infrastructure bill and an exit from Kabul, Joe Biden is stealing Republican thunder. Even the press hates the White House again. 

But now only 31% of Republicans agree with the exit from Afghanistan, according to a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll. Imagine if Trump had not played the partisan. Why should he? He was famously never much of a Republican to begin with.

Now it’s all he is. 

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Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
11 months ago

Cool Article, but it appears to not be irony, and it does not quite make it as satire, so what is it exactly?

I guess some of the new genera of writing where every thing is just made up, out of context, fabrication, assigning intent, imaging reasons, mis-coupleing quotations, imputing motives, and all directed to promote a ‘Super Agenda’. It is like Delta variant TDS, and no vaccine can cure it.

Fredrick Urbanelli
Fredrick Urbanelli
11 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Right you are

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
11 months ago

Oh give it a rest. Biden messed up the execution of this withdrawal completely and he must take responsibility.

Dustin Needle
Dustin Needle
11 months ago

By all means criticise the detail of Trump’s agreement with the Taliban.
But note Trump wanted to complete withdrawal before the onset of the “fighting season”. Biden opted to complete when the Taliban were match fit and were able to gather quickly in numbers.
Journalists are very fond of calling this “Trump’s deal”, but we know Biden changed the date, we don’t know what else got changed and whether this had the support to the original parties to the agreement.
I don’t doubt the end-game – Taliban control – would have been the same, but we will never know if Trump’s agreement would have resulted in the chaos of the past week with allies stuck on the wrong side of the line. Because it wasn’t followed.
And how much momentum was lost post November simply because the Democrats were more interested in posturing, overturning Trump’s policies for the sake of it and turning Washington into a militarised zone?
I look forward to an article that enlightens us on the important details, rather than yet another snarky article about Trump.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
11 months ago
Reply to  Dustin Needle

I get bored of endless Trump great, Biden a disaster, or vice versa. However I think it is pretty clear that the Afghan state and army (300,000 strong) had no real independent existence or claimed the loyalty of enough Afghans. They collapsed overnight as soon as a few thousand US advisors were withdrawn. Doing this to meet an arbitrary political timescale is pretty absurd (though also almost inevitable in the American system), but it seems overwhelmingly likely that this collapse would have happened after a withdrawal of Western forces, whenever this was done.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

The AFGH army was trained and worked dependant on air support that was withdrawn much earlier than the get out date. Bagram was the center of all Afghan C&C. Once abandoned the die was cast. The UK in conjunction with other allies did not want to pull out but couldn’t replace that C&C center. Sad, but NATO now must find a way to do without the US expertise in C&C. Trump threatened to kill NATO, Biden has done it.
The 2500 US troops kept the Taliban at bay for more than a year. Small money could keep that number forever with many less than Germany or S. Korea. Why give the Afghans to the Taliban? The war will only resume later at greater cost. Penny wise, pound foolish.

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
11 months ago

Pretty long winded way to chant “Orange Man Bad”.

Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson
11 months ago

I agree that many Republicans and FOX pundits, who were outspoken proponents of Trump’s decision to withdraw, are only now acknowledging the danger of a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan providing safe haven to all manner of Islamist terror groups.
But there is also the more immediate matter of ensuring the estimated 9000 US citizens spread around the country gain safe passage to the airport.
Worst case scenario: the Taliban stop playing nice and start using them as hostages.
Public opinion would turn rapidly against Biden.
So I’d go easy on the triumphalism and Schadenfreude for the present.
This could still escalate into a real nightmare and Biden could end up stealing Carter’s thunder.

Last edited 11 months ago by Eddie Johnson
Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
11 months ago

Why yes, let us just forget about the false “Russian Bounty” story that magically appeared right in time to sabotage Trump’s withdrawal plans.

Clive Mitchell
Clive Mitchell
11 months ago

The debate isn’t, or shouldn’t be about outcome. The debate should be about process. We had to leave. The Taliban would therefore take over.

But how do we leave? In a controlled manner? Or like a bunch of headless chickens? Biden, for reasons of his own chose headless chicken.

Jerry Mee-Crowbin
Jerry Mee-Crowbin
11 months ago
Reply to  Clive Mitchell

Surely the ultimate example of a headless chicken is indeed our very own Joe Biden!

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
11 months ago
Reply to  Clive Mitchell

The Taliban takeover was not inevitable. There were alternate forms of governing Afghan other than the Taliban. The US could have established regional power centers.

J M Dee
J M Dee
11 months ago

Thousands of military are on the ground and tens of thousands of civilians are stranded throughout the country. “Biden actually ended one,” eh? The war is over? I suppose it depends on what your definition of is is.

andrew harman
andrew harman
11 months ago

The righteous flailing around beggars belief – the right is blaming Biden, the left is blaming Johnson and Raab. As ever, everyone will look at this as they do everything: through their own lens. As for me I think the outcome would have been the same, regardless of the timetable or who was occupying the White House.
This is being harnessed to try and make politically partisan points but I am struggling to recall support coming from the left for the presence in Afghanistan…now they care about nation building and Afghan women and girls?

tim williams
tim williams
11 months ago

This is such rubbish. The Spectator is spinning the same yarn. Something really has gone wrong with elite thinking in the UK as in the US. The manner of the departure is so catastrophically bad it matters less that it has been achieved. He will be out of office in 6 months as his mental decline is obvious. This is a failure of historic proportions.Get real.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
11 months ago

This seems like a diversion from the real issue. China seems set to move in to buy up the mineral wealth.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
11 months ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

Yes indeed. I read somewhere that there is a trillion dollars worth of rare earths in those mountains. But I guess the left US leadership was too dumb to realize that those rare earths are essential components of their electric vehicle nirvana. So once again the West will be entirely dependent upon the Chinese.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
11 months ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

I wonder how long the Chinese will fare in Afganistan once the Taliban learn about the Uigur prison camps, assuming that the Taliban are really muslims.

J Hop
J Hop
11 months ago
Reply to  Mike Smith

It’s all tribal. The Taliban kills more Muslims than anybody else.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
11 months ago
Reply to  Mike Smith

Well isn’t that an interesting point! Many Muslim states are staying pretty quiet about the Uighyrs. On an individual level human beings have of course complex motivations, are good at self interest (even when well hidden), and great at creating their own self serving narratives, which they then firmly adhere to. And then on top of that you have ‘realpolitik’ on a state level.

Screaming ‘Islam is a death cult’ as so many do, is obviously offensive to many ordinary law abiding Muslims, self defeating by increasing polarisation (which is what the Islamists want) but more importantly, doesn’t explain anything at all about the complexity of the geo-politics involved.

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

The Muslim world isn’t staying quiet about the uighers. They condone it.

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
11 months ago
Reply to  Mike Smith

The Muslim world don’t care about the uighers.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
11 months ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

Yes, and the Chinese won’t make the mistake of trying to ‘nation build’

David Uzzaman
David Uzzaman
11 months ago

The easiest way to end a war is to lose it.

David McDowell
David McDowell
11 months ago

Interestingly in the UK there isn’t a peep from the usual suspects about the withdrawal from Afghanistan and opinion polls. Presumably the questions were asked but the answers were the wrong ones, and the results were shredded.

Rob Butler
Rob Butler
11 months ago

Pure gaslighting from the MSM.
This article is an example of why we have a sock puppet in The White House.
“Hey Man! It was four or five days ago”. As the “Killing Fields of Kabul” unfold over the coming weeks, history will remember Biden as the dementing President . This debacle is on all those who supported a senile man for the leadership of the West because he wasn’t the other guy.

Christian Filli
Christian Filli
11 months ago

Dude, the real war is just beginning. And the US is in full retreat already.

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
11 months ago

The fact that Trump didn’t like Bill Kristol is another reason to warm to him. His recent pronouncements are political attacks on the nature of the withdrawal. Even if you think that a Trump administration wouldn’t have done any better it doesn’t matter – that’s politics.

The media and bill kristols attitude to the withdrawal is telling. The media has turned on the administration because they want continuous war.

Fredrick Urbanelli
Fredrick Urbanelli
11 months ago

How could such a short article be so long-winded? And all of this hoohah only to conclude that, yes, you see, I was right all along. It was Trump what done it. At least Mr. Mills won’t have to engage in any of this silly self-awareness stuff. Whew! Who needs that in his life?

LCarey Rowland
LCarey Rowland
11 months ago

Trump was a bull in a china shop. President Biden is an experienced politician who has graduated to the true Statesman role. If you listen to Joe’s handling of all the flak and flotsam by which the backbenchers were attempting to steal the thunderous disruption of performing a necessary withdrawal–if you listen to our President, you will hear the directives of a seasoned leader who has been in the trenches of national and international leadership since 1972!
The man knows what he’s doing!
Sure, there will be casualties, but not nearly as many as another two, or twenty, years trying to make war in those Afghan mountains.
With all the noise and flak spewing from the mouths status-stealing blabbermouth senators, it is difficult to settle in and comprehend the good sense by which Joe decides, implements, explains and defends what our nation and our military equipment are accomplishing now. . .to get us back on a track of rebuilding a post-pandemic, post-t(R)ump, post-AsaianWar road to effective American government and appropriate us of our resources and our people.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
11 months ago
Reply to  LCarey Rowland

Good satire 🙂 I was almost fooled.