The Daily Escape:
19th century schooner wreckage at Race Point, Cape Cod, MA
The seaweed-covered wreck above is an appropriate meme for our disastrous Middle East policy that today led to even more deaths of US soldiers in Afghanistan. ISIS in Afghanistan has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The latest news is that 11 American Marines and a Navy Medic were killed in a suicide bombing at a checkpoint at the gates of the Kabul airport. It also appears that at least 15 US military were injured. The deaths marked the first US military fatalities in Afghanistan since February 2020, when two American soldiers were killed in an insider attack by an Afghan soldier.
Imagine that you are a Marine guarding the entrance to Kabul airport. Imagine that the day before, you had been briefed about the potential of a suicide vest detonating near your position. Imagine doing your job, checking individuals who want to get past you into the airport, when you know you might get suicide-bombed.
They’re close enough to touch. You can smell their breath, but all you can do is stand there are be hyper-vigilant.
At least when someone shoots at you, you can shoot back. But there’s nobody to shoot at after the bomb goes off. Just take the dead and wounded to the medic and write up the after-action report. They knew they’d be targeted by ISIS bombers. And, yet, they went ahead and did their duty, processing evacuees and trying to assist in winding down this terrible war.
But pundits gotta spin. Here’s former Ambassador Ryan Crocker with his latest at MSNBC:
“Strategically and for a long, short and medium-term interest, is the decision to completely withdraw from Afghanistan, was a very bad one. That said, the decision having been made the execution of it has been pretty bad.”
It’s a viewpoint, but consider HR McMaster, former Trump National Security Adviser who said on MSNBC:
“Kabul blasts are what happen ‘when you surrender to a terrorist organization’”
Reprehensible. Matt Yglesias gives us a little history on terror attacks in Kabul, just in 2020:
Yglesias also provided a little history on similar bombings at Kabul airport:
“On 8 September 2009, at around 8:22 AM, a suicide bombing took place near the entrance of the airport’s military base
On 3 July 2014, Taliban fighters fired two rockets into the airport, destroying four helicopters. One of the four helicopters belongs to Afghan President Hamid Karzai
On 29 July 2015, three American defense contractors and one Afghan national were killed by a gunman outside the airport in the late evening
On 17 May 2015, a suicide bombing by the Taliban near the entrance of the airport occurred, killing three and injuring eighteen.”
The point is that we have been dealing with violence at the very location where this violence took place for a very long time, without pundits or members of Congress paying any attention to it.
So, as we sit at home, watching the drama unfold in Kabul, let’s salute the courage of our service members who died trying to rescue Americans and others from Afghanistan.
Let’s also give the single finger salute to the media, the pundits and the politicians trying to prove that they are tough enough to put more American soldiers in harm’s way in order to minimize the “optics” of our humiliating loss in Afghanistan.
Expect the “Benghazification” of the end of our time in Afghanistan, particularly if Republicans gain control of the House in 2022. There’s way too much shit to throw at Biden for that not to happen.
And regardless of your politics, spare some sympathy for Biden as well. He’s now under titanic pressure to avenge these deaths. Perhaps he should remember Ronald Reagan, who withdrew the Marines from Lebanon after 241 of them were killed in a bombing of their Beirut barracks in 1983.
Ezra Klein at the NYT quotes Emma Ashford, a senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security: (emphasis by Wrongo)
“There’s no denying America is the most powerful country in the world, but what we’ve seen over and over in recent decades is we cannot turn that into the outcomes we want. Whether it’s Afghanistan or Libya or sanctions on Russia and Venezuela, we don’t get the policy outcomes we want, and I think that’s because we overreach — we assume that because we are very powerful, we can achieve things that are unachievable.”
Sometimes, you just have to cut bait.