Matt Vespa

August 30, 2021



Well, the fiasco that erupted concerning the safe evacuation of American citizens from Afghanistan could have been much less chaotic. The Washington Post had a lengthy piece Sunday detailing the fall of Kabul. It circles back to everything you already know. The Taliban were racing toward reconquering the country.

The Afghan government was totally aloof. And everyone in the Biden orbit was on vacation when calamity hit. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani dithered on getting his act together, more concerned about the digitization of the economy than the Taliban threat. The publication noted that he agreed to step aside days before the Taliban took control of Kabul. The US assumed he would be there to help with the transitional government that included the Taliban. Instead, he fled, but here’s the real issue.

Buried mid-way through the piece is the Taliban offering the US to take control of not just the airport but all of Kabul. Chaos was engulfing the city as news of the government’s collapse spread. Security was a priority. The Taliban offered the US to take control of the city, and we turned them down (via WaPo):

In the void, law and order began to break down, with reports of armed gangs moving through the streets.

In a hastily arranged in-person meeting, senior U.S. military leaders in Doha — including McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command — spoke with Abdul Ghani Baradar, head of the Taliban’s political wing.

“We have a problem,” Baradar said, according to the U.S. official. “We have two options to deal with it: You [the United States military] take responsibility for securing Kabul or you have to allow us to do it.”

Throughout the day, Biden had remained resolute in his decision to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan. The collapse of the Afghan government hadn’t changed his mind.

McKenzie, aware of those orders, told Baradar that the U.S. mission was only to evacuate American citizens, Afghan allies and others at risk. The United States, he told Baradar, needed the airport to do that.

On the spot, an understanding was reached, according to two other U.S. officials: The United States could have the airport until Aug. 31. But the Taliban would control the city.

So, if we had taken control of the city, which we could have done, there would have been no Taliban checkpoints making access all but impossible. There would have been no beatings of Americans by the Taliban. No American passports would have been seized. We could have removed our citizens much more easily. Would it still have been chaotic due to the swarms of Afghan civilians trying to flee the Taliban? Probably—but perhaps processing them would have been smoother as well.

Instead, we have terrorists handling security like TSA at Hamid Karzai Airport, which was rocked by a suicide bomber last week that killed at least 13 US service members, most of them Marines. The city would have been secured. Our people could have ventured out without fear of violence. The civilians, the key Afghan allies we cleared to leave with us, could have been evacuated more efficiently as well. We wouldn’t have been subjected to handing the Taliban lists of those approved at the checkpoints, which amount to a kill list. It’s one of many disastrous decisions the Biden administration has been a part of in recent days.